Getting Veterans involved in Aquaponics

Hello my name is David from Plainfield , Connecticut USA. I am a retired US Navy Veteran and I have been using some basic Aquaponic technics recreationally in a 14’x24’ greenhouse for the past three years and I have been an Aquaponics Association going on two an a half years now. I am thinking of attending Santa Fe Community College to further my knowledge in hopes to own my own business in the near future and provide my community organically grown fish and produce and potentially provide local high school students internship training in technics on aquaculture and aquaponics. If I attend Santa Fe Community College, it will give me the tools to achieve my entrepreneurial goals. I have recently applied for VA benefits that are provided by the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program. Hopefully this will allow me to attend Santa Fe Community College and provide me with the Education I need to try and fulfill my dreams.
But in order to receive the benefits the VA wants me to research data on Aquaponics Occupations and job listing. I am researching in a search engine called Onet online which has me entering a Occupation (Aquaponics), then look for job titles in this field. Their doesn’t seem to be any Occupations like Engineering or Construction in these Search Engine data bases for Aquaponics. The search engines in the O net online data base are National Labor Exchange, Career Builder, Indeed and Zip Recruiter. In indeed they have some lower level positions but that is it. I also reached out to Trifecta Ecosystems in Connecticut and spoke to Kieran he gave me some good data and is willing to talk to my counselor who is helping me through this process. To give my counselor Molly the incite on where the industry is and heading. Then I thought that who else could I turn to for more assistance so I thought that maybe I could make this a class project and use this network of professionals already in the industry. I am hopeful that there is someone who could help me. Thank you!


Hello David

email me, [email protected]
have a look how we do aquaponics at

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Thanks for posting this @chefdaponte67. If there are a few more interested we’ll also be happy to convene a zoom chat about this topic, it is very important for industry growth.

Anyone with large commercial experience like @arvindvenkat or @potentponics have any ideas about this?

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Feel free to email me if you want with your questions il help how i can. [email protected]

I think you aren’t seeing engineering or construction because most of the time larger facilities are designed by a consultant then approved by an engineer for inspection purposes then given to a contractor to build. Greenhouse companies are pretty turn key these days or you can buy a kit and hire a crew to throw it up in a few days but they usually also do other ag buildings and things not just aquaponics. The other thing is aquaponic design is constantly evolving as we learn more about the science which might also be a factor as well.


A build manual for lower cost system module that can produce 600 heads of lettuce /week is shown at
It can be replicated as many times as desired for larger systems. The one shown there is in metric, but I have a more updated manual I can send you for free if that system looks like something you are interested in. [email protected]

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Hey Brian,

That is awesome, Love the support! Anything that can help get more people involved the better it will be in order the get this industry the recognition it deserves. While getting Veterans involved, all we want to do in life is make a difference. From boot camp to being in the forces and still after all the action is gone. Aquaponics is a way the help many veterans still feel that we are making a difference.

UPDATE: So on May 28th I sent my counselor an article By Neill Mattson submitted to Cornell University on: Accelerating workforces development for the controlled environment agriculture industry, Curriculum from Santa fe Community College and Kentucky State University. I also reached out to one of the Owners (Kieran) of Trifecta Ecosystems and he gave me his email and mobile number for reference to my counselor so she could get a real sense as where the industry is going from someone already in the industry.
Today: My Counselor explained to me the following: “Apologies for my delay. I wanted to take some time to staff your case and look at some information in regards to moving forward. While I admire your passion and commitment to the field of aquaponics, unfortunately the information you provided re: degree plans and articles is not adequate labor market. In doing some market research, while this field may be expanding, there are no positions available here in CT. As a reminder, the goal of our program is employment and must remain the priority. That being said, we would be able to offer you support in a related field such as environmental sciences with the hope that you might be able to transition into aquaponics in the future, but we would not be able to support a goal of aquaponics at this time. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or questions, and if you would like to move forward in this manner.”

So with this being said can I use Environmental Sciences as a Vehicle to get me to Aquaponics or will this field just create a longer path to my goal =Aquaponics/veteran owned/helping other veterans. what do you think?

Have you connected with @RobT? He is in Connecticut as well. I am sure he knows farms in the area and maybe has some information to contribute. Here is his farm:

@chefdaponte67 another option is to look into careers for either aquaculture, hydroponics, greenhouse management, biodigestion / waste management, or just general agriculture. All these fields are integral for growing aquaponically.

Environmental Science is good for understanding the theories of WHY we practice aquaponics, and the benefits of aquaponics. But I don’t think envi sci will prepare you to actually grow with aquaponics.


David, I think you may want to use Hydroponics in your employment search. When I searched Indeed for ‘hydroponics’ it came up with 249 current openings at various levels of experience and functional expertise.
You can also contact your local Workforce Development Center for financial assistance in getting approved for funding for your education and/or work experience in aquaponics. There is one in Santa Fe. They are funded by the Department of Labor and are required by law to give preference to veterans. Let me know if you need assistance in finding.

The other thing to consider is that you can get formal university level training as a remote student. I have taken courses from the University of Kentucky which seems to have good Aquaponics curriculum.

We have several members here as well that offer certificates, workshops and training that can increase your knowledge of aquaponics.


Hello Everyone,
Just a quick update on my status with SFCC and the VA process. It took me 4 1/2 months but I finally got approved for VA educational funding and I’m currently attending classes. I can’t say enough for Charlie Shultz and his staff at SFCC. I never seen any College or University work so hard to get one student into there program. Great Job SFCC! I also want to thank the Aquaponic community for coming together and helping me with support letters to make this all happen. First and foremost, Thank you Brian for your letter it made all the difference coming from you! I also want to Thank Kieran from Trifecta Ecosystem and Rob from Bigelow Brook Farm for you letters of support as well. I have always heard that this community is very close knit, i saw it in action a few weeks ago. So thank you everyone for all the advice, comments and support through-out this process! Go Aquaponics!!! To bad that we can’t all meet in person at the conference, but I’m still attending as I have since 2019. Hope to see everyone online!


congratulations! keep us posted.

Hopefully next year we’ll all be in Oklahoma City!


I really hope so!

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Dave, you are welcome to do an “article” or blog post about your journey, why you’re interested in aquaponics, etc.

Could be a good way to get more veterans interested in controlled environment agriculture?

Let me know if you have any thoughts.


Yes - you are right. The science of bacteria matters. Mom nature has rules - which bacteria can grow where. Its decided by the geo coordinates of that location. Stuff like mean-sea-level makes a difference.

David - thank you for writing about your journey.

I am sure every practitioner will agree that we cannot teach a child how to ride a cycle from a touchscreen. Farming is doing.

You made the effort - I’d love for you to please motivate others. I am sure my audience will love to hear your notes.

Would you like to do video chat with me ? I’m available at your convenience for a discussion.

thank you.


Hey Brian,
As you know I’m a Vet and when I’m interested in something, I’m all in! So the way my journey got started way back in 2014 when the price of produce started to sky-rocket and I was paying over $2.00 for one pepper and then I started to grow my own via soil, then my interest started to increase and I took a local master gardeners course so I can become a little more knowledgable about plants and how to be successful in growing vegetables. Then when I retired from the US Navy in 2018, I decided to buy a greenhouse, nothing too big or too small 24’ x 14’ just something that I can be dangerous enough to grow some veggies for my family without paying the high prices of produce and any additional pesticide and herbicides in my vegetables. One day in August 2018 when I was working on my shed, this cable person from Frontier was working on a pole across from my house and asked what I was growing in my greenhouse. I replied nothing yet, he asked me what was my plan and I told him that I was planning to build some planters boxes and grow some veggies in soil. Then he starts talking about this way of growing with fish (Aquaponics) and it piqued my interest as I started talking to him about aquaponics, I started doing my own research on YouTube and started sorting out which postings we’re most credible and start looking at different organizations or colleges affiliated in this industry. Since I was retired and was not working at the moment, I started looking for any conferences that I may be able to attend to gain more information and do some networking to link myself up with someone in the industry to generate a comrade to learn more about aquaponics. So I realized that I just missed the 2018 Aquaponics Association in Hartford, CT by 2 weeks. So I continued to speak to this cable guy Joe about Aquaponics and then we started to create a plan on how I was going to build an Aquaponic system, but then we brainstormed on how I was going to heat it or somehow retain as much heat in the winter as possible after many conversations and research I was able to get a hold of someone in Colorado that help me with specs on creating a geothermal loop to retain as much heat below the frost line, so a digging we went and create a loop that went down 8ft and stretch out about one seventy-five feet around my backyard and back in on the opposite end of the greenhouse. After that, we decided to build a media bed x2 with a sump tank underneath the media beds underground so it can be insulated with the soil and did the same with the fish tank but not as deep. The start of my first Aquaponic system started in February 2019 and then I went to the 2019 AA conference and that is where everything really started for me as far as how far I wanted to take this. Then it was a dutch bucket system another media bed and then DWC and another media bed. So now I’m all in and reached out to Charlie and people from Kentucky State Univ, Rob from Bigelow brook farms to see what was my best option to take me to the next level where I can be marketable within the industry.
So as you know I reached out to my VA rep in Connecticut and you know the rest from thereon. Now I am currently attending SFCC and taking Charlie’s courses.


I would be honored to do a video chat with you and share my journey! I will be available after next Wednesday EST. I am currently enrolled at Santa Fe Community College and next week will be my last week before the winter holiday break. So please feel free to reach me at this forum to set up a time and then we can proceed.
Thank you!


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Hi Dave - great to hear from you. Thanks for your participation.

Wednesday is good. Would you like to do a whatsapp video call or a google meet call ?

I am available at +91.82639.79565 if you would like to chat there. [email protected] is my email id.

I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn -

Kind regards,

I would love to get your notes on my course -