Who is Friendly Aquaponics?
Susanne Friend and Tim Mann are the married partners in this wonderful technology called aquaponics, in their business named Friendly Aquaponics.
We knew absolutely nothing about growing plants before we began, in fact we both had a long, sad history of killing houseplants. We both come from the business world, so farming is new to us. If we can do this, anyone can! In mid-2007, we became tired of having two businesses tied to the failing construction industry on the Big Island, and decided that we’d grow food. We are thrilled to have taken steps toward our own food security, and are honored to be sharing what we have learned, so that you your journey toward food freedom can be easier.
What started out as the desire to make a good living from growing food has slowly turned into a crusade. We are committed to undoing the industrialization of our food supply. If you have not read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, and seen the movie “Food, Inc.” (now out on DVD, and on Netflix), then you really must do so, to fully understand what has happened to our food supply since the end of World War II. And it has spread to the rest of the world now as well, with McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s spreading like viruses….
We stand for local, organic, non-processed, real food, and that is what we grow on our farm, to feed our family. We hope you join us, as America moves from being known as the “Fast Food Nation” to a country filled with “Slow Food Communities.” We believe if you do not grow it yourself, at least you should know the grower!
“Leonard Nimoy once said that ‘The miracle is this, the more we share, the more we have’ and that’s exactly what’s going on in Friendly Aquaponics; Susanne and Tim not only provide superior organic products for their local community. But in addition, they are enriching the lives of people around them with the gift of their amazing knowledge.” says Christopher Flynt, of Tucson, AZ, who interned with us for six months. “Topher” is a brilliant and wonderful man, who blessed us by living with us and helping us out in more ways than we can count.
The Friendly Aquaponics Tribe
(As written by Tim – the short and sweet one above is by Susanne =)
I’m Tim, the guy who digs the ditches, herds the fish, and fixes things that break. My wife Susanne has the college degrees, and this whole aquaponics thing was her idea. She manages the vegetable production, marketing, personnel, advertising and communications (including this web site!).
World Tribe is our brand name for the organic lettuce mix that we sold for two years at a “Big Box Store”. After teaching that business model for nearly three years, we realized it was flawed, because very few of our students had the necessary $1 million to $1.5 million for an aquaponics system and greenhouse large enough to supply even one product for a “Big Box Store”, we went in another direction. Currently Friendly Aquaponics grows a variety of vegetables for sale through our own “Farm Store” right on the property, and in our Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse trainings, we teach our students how to be profitable with smaller-scale commercial aquaponics system ventures that cost as little as $20,000 to get going! Since 2011, we’ve been urging people to “Start Small!”
World Tribe is our vision of a world in which everyone has stopped fighting, and instead has started working together on the Quan Yin principle. For those of you who don’t know her, Quan Yin is a Buddhist saint who was offered Nirvana after attaining enlightenment, but refused, saying she wanted to be reincarnated and go back to earth to keep on helping people. When asked why, she said, “my work is not over until everyone has attained their own perfection, then I will have earned the right to come with them”. So, put simply, we believe that it is all of us or none of us.
We live on the windward coast of the Big Island of Hawaii in a big, warm-hearted house that we built with our own hands. It is peach-colored, with turquoise-colored trim, and has a painting that says “T Heart S” in the third-floor window facing the road (means Tim loves Susanne; like teenagers, yeah?). You’ve seen it if you’ve driven the Hamakua Coast road anytime over the past twelve years. It’s the only three-story house on that road, and it has a really weird roof. That would be Friendly Aquaponics!
We have wonderful children who are the loves of our life: Victor, video games-master, expert cook, and sound f/x artist at age 22; Jack, Mr. Good Behavior (except when he’s not!), who’s 16 going on 35, and who takes care of everyone; Lucky, who almost died at birth (but fought hard and didn’t, and that’s why we call him Lucky) at age 14-1/2, he was very quiet growing up, but has recently come out of his shell and is actually loud these days; and finally Rose, the Queen of Everything at age 12, who is making up for being the youngest by telling us all what to do.
We have a kupuna (Hawaiian word for “honored elder”) living with us as well: Susanne’s mom Isabelle, (although everyone calls her Mamaia (pronounced “ma MY ah”) because she did a stint as a volunteer in a Romanian orphanage and that’s their word for grandma). She travels a lot of the time, even though she’s 92. During the school year she teaches Jack, Lucky, and Rose, as she is a retired schoolteacher. Mamaia likes gardening and taking walks in the early morning.
I think people usually say what their hobbies are in these things, so here goes: Susanne likes photography (both digital and old-school film), Photoshop work on the computer, hand-coloring infrared prints with transparent oils, making leis (Hawaiian flower garlands), and her huge Shire draft horses. She loves our children like her next breath. She dreams about cruising the world on a sailboat big enough for the entire family. I like making swords and knives, jazz drumming, surfing, and sailing, and since I absolutely adore my wife, I am going to build her that big sailboat. Keep in touch, and come sailing with us someday soon!