Welcome to Blue Point Tilapia Farm.  The Home of Driftwood Johnson, our mascot and chief tilapia.  This whole endeavor really morphed out of just always having fish and living with fish, among other critters.  We have been fortunate enough to obtain the permits necessary for tilapia- Red and White Nile (Oreochromis Niloticus) and Blue Israeli or (Oreochromis Aureus).  Tilapia get a bad rap since they are often imported and raised with poor quality food and water.

Here in Maine, our fish are grown  in aquaponic systems where they are fed organic, GMO free food.  As with everything else that we eat, this makes a huge difference.  However, their most important job is providing the nutrients needed by the plants which are hooked up to their tank.  Their water feeds and nourishes the plants, and the plants in turn clean the water which goes right back to the fish.   Simple as that.   And to sweeten it all, we are adding freshwater jumbo prawn this year -think small lobster or gigantic shrimp- (Machrobrachium Rosenbergii) so our little ecosystem can flourish as a polyculture- it’s own little world.  

With BIG shrimp on the barbi…. 



Why we’re doing this

Awhile ago we decided to become as self sufficient as we could.  Since quite a number of our ‘hobbies’ require electricity,  we put up 20 solar panels and a wind turbine and bit by bit other aspects of our little permaculture world began to take shape- and it’s a work in progress still.  We moved the entire operation to Brownfield Maine from the Blue Point section of Scarborough in 2016 and are now planning on having a passive solar greenhouse as well.  When we first started, it was in our house.  Everything.  We proved to ourselves that any family can do this.  And it is becoming more and more obvious that more should, so we quickly started to tell folks about aquaponics and because we stock quite a number of schools who have systems, talked to the teachers and kids about this wonderful food producing process that uses a lot less water than conventional gardens and with no weeding!

We repeatedly tried to get the State of Maine to allow importation of prawn to grow in our systems and finally last year, our wish was granted.  Growing tilapia and prawn together, actually increases the yield and size of the fish and the prawn eat the detritus of the fish and any uneaten food.  It is quite a symbiotic relationship.  2018 will be our first opportunity to import this species.

Why it’s Important

We are already beyond our planet’s ability to support the life we have now.  The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report stated we had already exceeded the planet’s regenerative capacity by about 30%.  “The resulting deforestation, water shortages, declining biodiversity and climate change are putting the wellbeing and development of all nations at increasing risk.”

In the U.S. 80% of our water consumed is for agriculture.

Land subsidence is a worldwide concern as we deplete our aquifers at an alarming rate and the industry that uses the most, (agriculture) pollutes the remaining ground water it survives from with the fertilizers and chemicals it applies.

Confined aquifers never regenerate ~ the unconfined ones can only be replenished if it is done so at the same rate as the withdrawal.  Our gradual warming trend, cloud seeding, and pollution all further the drying up of these aquifers ~ not to mention consumption which is out of control.

So WHY Aquaponics?

Obviously something must change and many other countries have already begun telling their citizens to independently grow their own fish and produce using aquaponics – in their own home or property.  The reason is twofold- first, many countries can no longer supply their populations with enough food and aquaponics uses the least amount of this disappearing water supply.  Here in the US, the movement to locally produced food is expanding at a phenomenal rate.

Aquaponics uses the natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients.  This is an environmentally friendly, natural food-growing method that harnesses the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics without the need to discard any water or filtrate or add chemical fertilizers.  Aquaponic systems come in every size imaginable from a small home system to gigantic facilities.

On November 1st of 2017, an important “battle” over USDA Certification came to a head. Unlike in the European Union, USA hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic farms have all been eligible for USDA Organic certification, and in the past decade or so more and more organic hydroponic produce has been appearing on grocery shelves.

Proponents of soil organic farming have fought this allowance for over twenty years. This fall, after an opposite vote in April, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted that aquaponics and hydroponics should be allowed to continue to be certified organic, but voted no on aeroponics (a practice similar to hydroponics, but where plant roots are sprayed with instead of suspended in a nutrient solution).  Currently, around 100 hydroponics farms are certified organic, only one aquaponics farm, and no aeroponics farms.

The purpose is to relieve overfishing, produce local food, and control pollution through a closed-looped system. “In traditional aquaculture systems—in which fish are raised in open water, in ponds, or in tanks—disposing of effluent is tricky.  Waste buildup can be toxic for fish, and dumping it can contaminate surrounding areas with deadly ammonia.  But with aquaponics, by-products are filtered out and sustain plants whose roots dangle directly into the water rich with nutrients. Farmed U.S. tilapia and freshwater prawn—considered a best-choice seafood by organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium—are most often used in aquaponics, though urban fishmongers in other states also dabble in raising catfish, perch, shrimp, and crawfish.


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