Inspired by the idea of the the reef club frag swap, the New England Frag Farmer's represents a regional event with "farmers" from all over New England gathered to sell their home grown "crop." The E.O. Smith Coral Project opens the doors to the school for any local hobbyist, retail or online store to come in and set-up a tank to sell coral frags. Admission is only $5, and anyone can come in and chat with the farmers, share information and get a few nice homegrown frags to stock their tanks. The Frag Farmer's Market has grown into the largest frag swap in the Northeast, with 50+ sellers and over 800 people coming to shop for the 2015 FFM.
The coral reefs of the world are in peril as a result of numerous human activities, including the marine aquarium trade. As a hobbyist and an avid scuba diver, I find it upsetting that I am taking part in destroying the reefs that I love so much. The hobby that we all take part in pulls ten of thousands of corals out of the oceans each year, with a focus on finding the rare and hard to find specimens. Many of these corals end up dying in collection, shipping, and acclimation. From there many end up dead by being put into insufficient environments. The irony is that most hobbyists have the ability to successfully grow coral colonies from tiny pieces of the colony and can, in time, create full sized colonies in captivity, with minimal effect on the ocean populations. By providing a venue for local hobbyists to sell homegrown coral frags from their tanks, my hope is that more people will take the time to frag the corals that they have. If we can take one coral colony from the wild, cut it into 25 pieces, put it into 25 people's tanks who grow it out and frag it, we will not have to take another colony of that coral from the wild in the future. By hosting the event, I also give the hobbyist a chance to see some of the incredible diversity of homegrown coral that is available in the New England area and beyond. By giving hobbyists the opportunity to stock their tanks, learn a few things from people who are successfully growing corals in their aquariums, and leave ready to start growing and fragging themselves, I am hoping to have a positive effect on the environmental impact of our hobby.
As a side note to all of this, many "Farmer's Market" style events have popped up in other areas, which is great to see. I am looking forward to the day when we can import minimal numbers of corals and use almost exclusively aquacultured specimens.
The following companies have generously supported the Frag Farmer's Market this year either by donations to the market, or by participating by coming to sell their frags. These businesses have shown commitment to the environment by providing frags, supplies to frag, or "greener" options to reefkeeping in general. The E.O. Smith Coral Project encourages you to take a minute to support these businesses when purchasing equipment, fragging supplies, or frags for your systems. Take a minute to look over their websites using the attached links. Check back often, this list is ALWAYS growing!
A special thanks to CaribSea for offering to not only donate to the raffle but also supplying the water for the 2016 FFM! They have been a HUGE supporter of the school project from the very start and continue to offer their products to the project to ensure its success.. Thanks!