Total Crash of our Blog site

I am sorry to report that our very popular Practical Aquaponics Blog site crashed Saturday night last.  I have spent two days trying to repair and resurrect the database but to no avail.    The fault in the database was also present in my last backup ....so no luck there either.

Murray Hallam - Practical Aquaponics

It will be a long job re entering all the data but pages and posts are all lost.  We have managed to retrieve most (we hope all) of the membership info.
The membership system will be up again in a few days and I will gradually re enter by hand all of the memberships.  There is just over 2,600 so it will take a while.

Thanks for your patience.

Murray Hallam
Practical Aquaponics

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AQUAPONICS FLOMEDIA in SCHOOLS.

Aquaponic Education in schools is taking off around the world but its not often you see a new hybrid technology installed that combines two very different aquaponics systems – floating raft and gravel media together in the one system.

Murray Hallam's Educational FloMedia Aquaponics system pictured was recently installed at Freshwater Christian College near Cairns, Queensland.

 

 

This Aquaponics System  features Murray Hallam’s new FloMedia system that he devised that allows you to grow a variety of plants in the one set-up using the best and most suitable method for each plant type .    Murray says he’s been testing his Flomedia technology for over a year and the response has been sensational. To make his fish tanks more accessible to the school kids, Murray created a fish viewing windows in his 2 x 1250 litre fish tanks. 

FloMedia Aquaponics Systems.

FloMedia Aquaponics Systems. Now you can grow anything

The fish tanks are hooked up to 4 x media beds and 2 x raft beds. Murray says the fish tanks have half a dozen large Jade Perch in one tank and some ornamental Goldfish in the other tank. On top of the windowed fish tanks are smaller fingerling tanks which children can get a closer look and feed a variety of smaller decorative freshwater specimens.

Aquaponics Media and floating raft beds in the same Aquaponics system.

Media and floating raft beds in the same Aquaponics system.

Murray Hallam was recently honoured with an award from the Science Teachers Association of Queensland. Murray says the teachers were “on fire” and incredibly enthusiastic about aquaponics. He says the feedback was so positive, teachers were explaining to him how aquaponics education can fit into the school curriculum.

Apart from learning life skills, teachers say Aquaponics can be integral to teaching students about Physics, Animal Husbandry, Water Chemistry, Horticulture , Aquaculture, General Science, Electronics and practical skills. They also get to eat fresh vegetables at the school canteen thanks to the fast growing salads the system produces.

Murray says his FloMedia system is powered by his CHOP2 method which he revealed and explained  in his DIY Aquaponics DVD.

Murray Hallam Aquaponics Made Easy

Murray Hallam

CHOP2 allows the home builder to allow his tanks to be built on uneven ground and individual grow beds regulated independently with nutrient flow.

It also makes life easier for the various auto-siphons that regulate the flow of oxygen rich water to his gravel grow-beds.

Murray says developing the dual system of aquaponics food production using FloMedia means heavy nutrient feeding plants like cabbages and fruiting plants such as tomatoes can be grown and supported in his gravel media bed systems while lighter feeding plants like lettuce and basil can be grown on floating raft. Combing the two systems together seems like a stroke of genius. Sorting out the water flow and pump issues is where Murray’s FloMedia technology solves these problems. Murray says that there is no better way to grow lettuce than in Floating Raft.

The only problem he says, is that for an average family running floating raft, they will grow so much of the stuff, they wont know know what to do with it all. An ideal solution for a school system.

In thee next blog we will feature another school that has installed a large FloMedia Aquaponics Educational kit and has been running it with excellent educational outcomes for all of the 2011 school year.

Guest Blogger Frank of ECO Films

Posted in CHOP System, General News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Commercial Aquaponics: Why You Should Go Small First.

Aquaponics Farm

Murray Hallam and Gina Cavaliero look over her Aquaponics Farm in Florida.

There’s been a lot of interest about commercial aquaponics recently and some discussion about how big should such a system be to become viable? Big is always best right? Not necessarily. If you envisage one of those broad acre hydroponic farms that seems to run for acres and acres off into the distance then you might be surprised that this is not the solution or even the future of aquaponics.
Speaking with Murray Hallam recently about commercial aquaponics, he sees this future very differently. Murray is big on small scale aquaponics that offers a secure future to the mum and dad operators running their own relaxed lifestyle but selling their produce not to big agri-business food chains, but directly into the community. Farmers markets, produce sold directly to restaurants, even food sold to other local food suppliers that redistribute your produce directly to the community.


Fast Tube by Casper

Gina Cavaliero from Green Acre Organics is one such person doing the direct to restaurants route. If you thought the process would be difficult to secure a contract of direct sales like we did, then you are in for a surprise. Gina cannot supply enough food to meet the need in her local community. It seems fresh produce in peak condition is a much sought after commodity.

One of the smart things Gina did was to first build a mini micro aquaponics system. In her backyard you will find a very small floating raft system connected to a round outdoor pool fish tank. Here Gina is able to cleverly test out a range of produce from herbs to lettuce to test and discover what grows well in her neck of the woods. Living in Florida helps too. But until you test a range of of boutique produce you will never know exactly how well those greens will grow based on your climate conditions. A micro floating raft system gave Gina the necessary clues to what would work well in her larger system.

Building a small micro-system first is a clever inexpensive thing to do. No sales person or marketing guru can tell you exactly what to grow in your climate. You will need to do your own homework first. Some level of filtration is needed on even a basic small system like this.

The plants and fish are a litmus test to the experimental nature of determining the optimal growing conditions for her test plants. Of course in her main greenhouse the usual rules of filtration apply. Gina features even a degassing tank to heavily oxygenate any methane present in the system before the water is sent off to her floating rafts. But building a micro system is a terrific idea before taking the heavy investment in up-scaling to a larger more expensive commercial system.

Gina even lightly stocks her big tank with tilapia. There is no problem with the fish supplying enough nutrients to keep the plants well fed. Lightly stocking your tank with fish can also be less stressful to the farmer should something break down resulting in heavy fish losses which seems to have a compounding problem in heavily stocked tanks. Heavily stocked tanks also require critical attention to filtration and fish oxygen demand. Sometimes a lighter approach to aquaponic farming can be less stressful and more therapeutic and still yield good plant growth.

Incidentally Gina Cavaliero along with Sylvia Bernstein and Murray Hallam will join forces for a small scale commercial aquaponics class next April in 2012 in Florida. Murray Hallam will also reveal how to build a hybrid media system he calls FloMedia right into your floating raft system. The idea is that for the small commercial farmer wanting to grow a broader range of plants and vegetables, even root crops, FloMedia can be expanded to use fish nutrients along with your conventional system. This raises the opportunity for farmers to trial a broader range of fruit trees and larger plants in their locality.

 

Posted in General News | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cold Climate Greenhouses and Seed Raising.

As part of The Complete Course we are offering an incredible one-day event...

Sustainable Greenhouse Design AND
Saving and Adapting Seed
with Penn and Cord Parmenter

This workshop is only available to participants in
Green Acres Aquaponic Farming - The Complete Course

Example of a very well constructed greenhouse.

We are incredibly excited to announce the addition of a new session to the Green Acre's Aquaponic Farming Course! Penn and Cord Parmenter have agreed to join us for an optional one-day session on April 25 to teach Sustainable Greenhouse Design and Saving and Adapting Seeds!

Penn and Cord grow year-round using their passive solar greenhouse at 8000 ft above sea level in Colorado year-round...with no powered heat! Now they are committed to taking what they have learned in this extreme situation and sharing it with others through their classes and consulting. I have personally taken this course at the Denver Botanic Garden, where they are frequent instructors, and it was outstanding.
By the end of the day you will know the key principles behind passive solar greenhouse design. You will also understand enough to take the plans that will be distributed in class and build your own greenhouse, often using inexpensive, recycled materials! Click here to learn more about their greenhouse designs.
Seed SavingPLUS, they will also cover the basics of Saving and Adapting Seeds in this action packed day! Learn how to save money and improve your seed stock the way farmers have been doing it for centuries. Click here to learn more about seed saving with the Parmenters.

What can you expect from this class? Glad you asked!

  • Fully trained, certified, professional instructors who live this every day
  • Sustainable Greenhouse Design
    • 4 -5 hours of instruction mainly by Cord Parmenter, who is a professional blacksmith and has built many of these greenhouses, and Penn Parmenter who grows in them year-round at 8000 ft above sea level with no supplemental heat!
    • This greenhouse requires no expensive fabric, parts or equipment and can even be built mostly of recycled materials
    • A full set of plans to take home with you
  • Saving and Adapting Seed
    • The remainder of the day will be spent learning to save and adapt seeds.
    • They teach the techniques they learned from Bill McDorman of Seeds Trust
    • There will be both lecture and hands-on sections
    • By the end of the day you will know how to not only harvest, save and adapt your own seed (thus reducing your farm expenses) but also how to adapt them to your environment and aquaponics system.

The Instructors

 

Cord and Penn Parmenter

Aquaponics greenhouse training.

Penn and Chord

Hi! We're Penn and Cord Parmenter, we garden together in the mountains. We grow Bio-Intensively which is how we grow more food in less space with less water. Altogether we are gardening less than 1/5th of an acre while reaping the equivalent of about 4/5ths. We have about 75 raised beds total which we rotate every year. We employ a combination of techniques to grow what we want. The higher you go in elevation - the more techniques you may need to combine. We have gardens full of growing examples of every kind.

We are raising three growing boys - Maximilian, Beauregard and Wulfgar. We have 4 horses, one garden cat, and we hunt, fish, forage, dry, can, freeze and grow.
Cord grew up in the wilderness and has a lifetime of experience in survival skills, wood skills, and horses. Cord is a Master Blacksmith and the owner of The IronMan - he creates beautiful custom iron for fine homes and gardens. See his work at: http://www.theironmancord.com.
Penn writes about high altitude gardening whenever she can and is currently working on a book about growing food in the mountains. Penn has a degree in theatre, and has studied and explored horticulture and the wilderness most of her life. We are co-instructors at Denver Botanic Gardens and around the state and region. We also give talks and lectures. 

Cost

  • $200
  • Cancellation policy Requests for cancellation of registration must be received in writing. Cancellations received by April 1, 2011, will be subject to a cancellation fee of 15%, which will be deducted from the refund. No refund will be made for cancellation requests received after April 1. If the event needs to be cancelled because of an unforseen cause beyond the organizers control (such as Acts of God, fire, strikes, and natural disasters, etc.) you will be refunded your registration fee less 15% to cover incurred organizational costs

Date

  • April 25 (this will be a 5th day for those in Session 1 of the Farming Course, or the 1st day for those in Session 2)

Time

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Video Policy

Because we strongly believe that the personal experience of actually being in the class and interacting with the systems, the instructors and fellow participants is critical to the eventual success of the participants, this class will not be available on video tape and video taping of these sessions is prohibited.

Location

  • Ridge Manor Community Center 34240 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor, FL 33523

Airport

Tampa International

Hotels

preferred rates have been arranged, accommodations are not included

This workshop is only available to participants in
Green Acres Aquaponic Farming - The Complete Course

There are limited seats available and it is sure to fill up quickly. Reserve your space now!

 

Posted in General News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Aquaponics: Selling Your Produce At Farmers Markets.

Although many people get into aquaponics for the fun of growing fish and plants together, they soon realize the potential that aquaponics could offer them.

Farmers Markets are a good way to sell your produce.

“Going Commercial” is the hot topic on Aquaponics Forums as people consider the possibility of selling their surplus produce or even building a larger more commercial system to sell their fresh clean food.

The plunge to go head first into a business venture could prove disastrous if people don’t research their business model properly. Anne Forsthoefel spoke recently at the Aquaponics Conference in Orlando Florida.  She offered attendees some valuable tips on selling your surplus at Farmers Markets.

Portland Markets
The Portland markets began 20 years ago with 13 farms selling their produce and now its grown to 167 vendors with $10 million in sales turnover and over 16,000 visitors looking for fresh locally grown produce.

Although by no means complete or applicable only to Aquaponics, Anne’s tips make a lot of common sense in building a solid relationship within your community.

Here are her tips of marketing your produce successfully.

Ann Forsthoe

Know your Buyers by name

It might sound too simple, but remembering your buers first name and greeting them with a “Hi John!” when they approach your stall pays dividends and build brand loyalty and friendship. You will forever have an advantage that the big food chains with their depersonalized stores can never compete with. Anne Forsthoefel says that in the 21st century “Community and relationships are what people are starving for.” Take advantage of that need.

  • Train your Buyers

    Not everyone understands your produce or how long it took to grow or if plants grown in aquaponics have a fish smell. Explain the vagaries of local food grown within your community and be prepared to extoll the virtues of why that tomato variety tastes as good as it does because of the local climate. Anne also says that people love to try something that is rare. Scarcity is always at a premium price so explain the variety of lettuce you have grown. That Japanese Mizuna Lettuce you have on sale may need to be explained to people why its so good for their diet, tastes like a mustard green and the health benefits it contains.

  • Everyone has an Opinion

    Smile and be respectful to people that come to your booth. Most people already have an opinion so don’t get into an argument over details. As Anne says, “This is retail folks. If you don’t like people – then don’t man your booth!” Find someone else with a pleasant personality to do that job for you. Joel Salatin an American farmer recently said the same thing. Not everyone is suited to manning a stall and being pleasant to people asking the same dumb questions. Know when the job is beyond you.

  • Beautiful Signage

    Believe it or not, people form an immediate impression when they look at your booth or stall for the first time. First impressions count and well made signage proclaiming your name and goods – hanging over your head evokes your image, your style, your brand. Its your business card. It draws people into your booth to investigate further. This doesn’t mean cheap however. A rough ink scrawl on a piece of old cardboard doesn’t evoke quality – or style. Think carefully about your brand image and if you want to get the best price for your produce, spend a little time and effort crafting signage that evokes the mood you wish to portray.

  • Offer Samples

    One of the best ways to get people to flock to your stall is to offer them a free sample and enable them to do the taste test. People are naturally curious and anything grown “aquaponically” will bring out the curious eager to do their own research. Small bit sized pieces of cooked fish on skewers will attract a lot of people.

  • Attention to Detail

    Anne recommends that you price every sale item and make it easy to see. Be prepared to explain your pricing structure to your buyer.
    “Be fair and be prepared to justify your price.” she said.
    When it comes to organizing the shape and look of your stall, Anne has a particular point of view as to what works and what puts people off. She is not in favour of booths that are “U” shaped or feature a tunnel look that is meant to incite people to wander into and look around. People want a point of departure and don’t like to hemmed in. A shopfront table between you and the buyer seems to be the best format that continually works well for marketing your produce.

  • Community Relationships

    “The history of selling food has traditionally been face to face.” says Anne. “Its only recently that bio-business has depersonalized it.” Working with people and giving something back is what builds stronger localized communities.
    “Those who succeed are the people who believe in the movement of creating a resilient food system.”
    “Not doing it just for themselves but for something greater.” she says. “But you need to work within your local government and get political.”
    “If we encouraged local food markets within the USA – everyone would be employed.”

    By Guest blogger Frank of www.ecofilms.com.au

 

Posted in Aquaponics Secrets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment