Grow Food, Grow Hope

Where do we go as a society? What are our goals? Do we seek help or do we seek to help? How can we help? For years I've done what I can for others with very little. As an American I always want more for myself but what really are my needs? We all have basic needs like food and housing. What about those without? How far should charity have to go? Do 'we' have to provide? Should we provide? Or should we teach, encourage, and push those in need to help themselves and others in the process?

Looking back on my past seeing that I didn't have nutritious meals on a day to day basis and realizing there are still children and adults in our country and around the world that don't have those opportunities for something like fresh vegetables and ethically raised meats drives me to want to provide a way. Not to provide directly but to find ways in every environment for anyone to be able to grow and sustain their own gardens indoors and out. Aquaponics is one such way. It is not, nor is any other method, the cure all that is needed. It is and can be a huge step in the right direction. Mixed with other aspects of permaculture we can see inner city communities, rural areas, and potentially even harsh environments growing healthy sustainable foods. Food is not about money and it never should be! Food should be about accessibility and nutrtion!

Where do we start? How do we get there? Well, that's the beauty of our modern age. More and more information is being disseminated across the Internet with greater accessibility. While the information is there for all to find the real work is getting the information directly into the hands of those who can do something. Not everyone has the resources to find this information or in many cases even know what to look for. Outreach is a necessity. That whole feed a man a fish versus teach a man to fish thing. And with aquaponics.... well, there's the fish!

My limited experience with aquaponics to date has been fairly positive. Many folks have had positive experiences. I've seen Youtube videos where people have utterly failed but really it's their own damn fault when doing something like mixing your fish with straight tap water which contains a fair amount of chlorine! I add water to my system regularly due to evaporation but generally it is after I let a bucket sit overnight or only add a small amount to reduce poisoning the system. Don't be a noob! If you've never taken care of fish don't expect to just jump into aquaponics. I never put additives in my water like a dechlorinator. The idea is to keep the system as close to organic and natural as possible. ESPECIALLY if you intend to grow your fish for food as well.

Where does that leave my personal system? Toast unfortunately! Garage fire destroyed my setup. This summer (2018) our goal is to move our chickens then convert the existing chicken area into a green house fully powered via solar. I've grown a fair amount of assorted greens which we've continuously harvested and consumed. I had a basil plant from 2016 still doing good in June of 2017. As as experiment I planted a couple of cannabis seeds I was given and shockingly have grown an incredibly healthy vibrant plant under LED lighting. My goal wasn't to produce cannabis but if it is a viable crop then why not? It is incredibly healthy to eat putting kale to shame and you won't be getting high eating fresh green leaves.

What do YOU need to get started? Well it can be as simple as a counter top kit from Amazon to grow herbs in your kitchen to a grow bed over an existing aquarium on to full fledged systems with IBC totes and stock tanks. Even existing ponds can have the beneficial waste recycled into well styled beds that overflow back into the pond creating more oxygen.

2019 is about to start and the greenhouse is coming soon. The chickens are moved so right after the holidays I get to start deconstruction of the old chicken enclosure and start setting posts for a 16' x 16' greenhouse. Ideally I'd like it to to be completely offgrid and it will be mostly aquaponics. It will be a fun experience which I'll include pictures and document anything anyone might be interested. Should I ever begin doing anything on Youtube I vow to never do Patreon. I'd rather make money off excess produce and helping people get their own greenhouse going than blabbing on all day about my thoughts and ideas when I can just write them here.

Did I say 16x16? Ha! Yeah, my dreams are always crushed. Have to work within the existing confines first which means no bigger than about 12x16 feet. Unfortunately orientated the wrong way. The East/West portion is narrow making it a bigger challenge. However (!!) if I can build it up quickly enough and get my proof of concept working as well as I hope then I may be able to expand the system. I hate money. One bitcoin would buy me everything I need to build, insulate, and monitor the whole thing. I've got a fair amount already in place in terms of solar panels, a start on the battery bank, a fish tub (literally a fiberglass bathtub), and a single grow bed in need of minor adjustments. I have to build a new roof which should be cheap enough and then figure a temporary cover until I can get the double wall polycarbonate panels. So if you're into the project and want to donate some bitcoin send to 1DWm9vv28vtjgA6NijzsxqB2Mbgote6wK3 or Paypal a gift and note it is for the greenhouse. The greenhouse *will* happen. Food will be grown. Information (and hopefully food) will be shared.