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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 136
September 5th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend

It was a regular week. We harvested and reseeded some "truck crops", did some fish tank maintenance, and I worked on the farm biogas installation. 18-year-old Connor (one of our workers) put in a new fence line. I kept our 64-year-old Cat D4 bulldozer running for another week. We harvested and dried mint. We just did normal work on the farm. Then it hit me! We were working and making money with the farm!

To put this "aha!" in perspective: six years ago my wife and I were sitting around the breakfast table mulling over what to do next. We just signed a 30-year note on the house we'd spent four years building with our own hands. Construction in Hawaii went flat in late 2007, and hasn't picked up again. Our two construction-related businesses were dead in the water, and we had $20k of credit card debt we racked up finishing the house, plus a huge mortgage to pay. We had no work, and were wondering how long we could live on our credit cards.

We reflected on how vulnerable we were because we were tied to an industry that needed constant growth to survive. We reflected on what sector of the economy might not be so vulnerable, and realized it was food. It never goes out of style, and people don't stop buying it like new cars or houses when things get a little tight.

It was like a light went on in our heads that said "We need to make food!". We had no idea how to make food yet, but a week later we were on the plane to the best aquaponics course we could find. This was the turning point that led us to the farm that makes our living, feeds us, and teaches us new things all the time.

Why should any of this concern you? If you've been fired, if your house is in foreclosure because your job disappeared or got reduced to part-time, if your retirement was suddenly worth half what it had been before overnight because of stock market shenanigans, if you've had any of these experiences, you should be concerned. Maybe nothing happened to you personally, but I'm certain you know someone to whom it has.

We don't claim to have all the answers. We just know that growing food for ourselves and others has been a success even in these difficult times. We think it's a good idea for people to take growing food into their own hands, whether or not you learn how to grow food with aquaponics. We also think it's a good idea to be able to grow food year-round no matter what your weather, so we got involved in energy-efficient greenhouse technology a year and eight months ago.

In today's "Nugget", we continue with Part 2 of our series on "Energy-Efficient Greenhouses For Aquaponic Growing". If
you want to learn how to do this instead of just read about it, we have trainings scheduled for Tennessee in September of 2013 (see bottom of this column, and right sidebar).

Our "In The Farmily" column today
is about some of the special members of our Farmily.

Aquaponics Nugget #136, Part 2: Energy-Efficient Greenhouses For Aquaponics

Why We Got Interested In Greenhouses At All:

Back in 2011, we gave one of our Personal Intensive aquaponics trainings for a fellow whose family had been in the ornamental flower business for years, using greenhouses. They had about 120,000 square feet of greenhouse space, and perhaps another 200,000 square feet of outside “shade house” space in which they had been growing (this was a BIG operation by our standards!).

At the height of their business, they had 80 employees. When he took the training, their business had decreased so much due to the recession that they only had 5 employees plus the family members. He’d come to Hawaii to learn how to convert his greenhouses to grow food using aquaponics.

During the course of the training he spoke about why the Recession had caused the demand for his product (flowers) to decrease so much, and as a secondary result, he explained how there were many (relatively new) greenhouses all over the US that were available for pennies on the dollar because they had simply failed to pay the bills and gotten repossessed by the banks.

(Below) A conventional "high tunnel"; one of the simplest and least expensive of greenhouses. Unfortunately, it's also a type that requires you to throw LOTS of energy at it, both for heating in the wintertime and cooling in the summer; because it has NO insulation and NO thermal mass (we'll talk a lot more about those two later in this series of articles!)


His farm was still in business only because his family owned their farm: they’d paid for building it out of cash flow and not from a loan; so they didn’t owe any money.

Getting into growing food was a good move for him.

Hearing about all the greenhouses that were suddenly available at fire-sale prices started Susanne and I thinking and researching in that direction. It had become obvious to us, after teaching commercial aquaponics for three years, that most of our students lived in temperate climates and needed greenhouses to be able to grow year-round.

This is desirable not only because people need to eat year-round, but also because the prices for many fresh produce items are the highest during the winter months (in some places it’s also during the summer months!), and that’s when the farmer can make the most money from growing the same thing.

We soon realized that our aquaponics offerings (as complete as they were in terms of aquaponics technology) only provided part of the solution to our clients; and that we needed to become proficient in greenhouse technology as well in order to stay on the cutting edge of this movement.

Then we saw a presentation during a conference in 2011 that really turned our heads in the direction of developing our own greenhouse designs: it featured many photos of traditional Chinese-style greenhouses, and emphasized their energy-efficiency and how they were built out of low-tech, affordable materials.

(Below) A Chinese-style greenhouse, complete with roll-down straw insulating mat to keep daytime warmth inside at nighttime. The small entrance building serves as an "air lock" keeping the warmth inside, as well as storage for tools and supplies.ChineseGHPinkNewsletter

(Next newsletter in this series will continue explaining our Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Technology. Over the course of this series, we will cover subjects including (but not limited to) thermal mass, insulation, solar heating, geothermal cooling, energy effficient greenhouse systems, passive hot air venting, cold-side air cooling, water walls (or evaporative coolers), night-sky cooling, heat exchangers, visible light, infrared light, radiant heat, and will tie this all together with continuing discussions included on how to get the most bang for your buck on each of these items. Most important for those of you who are "lightly funded", we will explain how to purchase and erect your own energy efficient greenhouse for pennies on the dollar, even if you never purchase any of our offerings! Thanks for listening!)

For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Table Top Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our TableTop System package includes easy-to-understand building instructions and operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels or IBC totes, but operating one successfully without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. You simply use the "Daily Operations Checklist" in the manual and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success. We also cover how to make aquaponics systems out of weird things like old refrigerators and door frames; this makes aquaponics much more economical to get started in, and fun too!

We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and built our first commercial aquaponics systems with FAR less information than this manual contains. We included all the information learned from that experience in this manual so you don't need to make any of the same mistakes we did.

Learn about our TableTop Systems!


Friendly September 2013 Tennessee Commercial Aquaponics and Greenhouse Training:

These Tennessee trainings are $1,495 per person for five days of the most comprehensive and profitable Commercial Aquaponics and energy efficient Solar Greenhouse technology on the planet. If you can't wait until September to learn about profitable commercial aquaponics, check out our Personal Intensive trainings in Hawaii.

SPECIAL OFFER: First 25 registrations will receive 50 tilapia fingerlings, a $100 value (shipping not included).

(Below) Tim drinking water from one of Randy and Katie's aquaponics systems at a previous Tennessee training. "I've been drinking this for six years; it's the reason I absolutely know the food from these systems is safe and healthy" (Tim).  TimWaterDrinkingNugget

First 5-day  training: September 23rd-27th (register here for first Tennessee training). Second 5-day training: September 30th-October 4th (register here for Tennessee second training).

(Click here for more information on Tennessee trainings).

These five-day trainings allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend.

Both of these five-day trainings include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, and new $295 DIY Commercial Tilapia Hatchery manual as course materials, plus our Plywood/Epoxy/ Tank manual, CAD construction drawings for all greenhouses and aquaponics systems, and much more!

(Below) Randy and Tim showing attendees at the Tennessee training how easy it is to use a DO (dissolved oxygen) meter to measure oxygen levels in the vegetable troughs.


If you're located near Tennessee, Randy and Katie give regular free farm tours of their aquaponics systems and greenhouses to introduce the public to the benefits of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouse growing. Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.

Our Affiliate Program:

For those of you who aren't yet aware of our Affiliate programs, here's the deal: we're the ONLY aquaponics professionals who teach our students how to teach aquaponics, AND let them use our manuals (under license) to teach others with. In fact, there are three Micro System trainings being given by our affiliates right now (see sidebar). You'll see that we also encourage and work with "Commercial" level affiliates such as Randy and Katy Campbell (with whom we're offering the September Tennessee courses) to teach our Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings. No other aquaponics teachers offer this, but you can partner with us to do so if you wish!

More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.

More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.

More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.

(Below) Randy and Katie's Chinese-style Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in Tennessee in the February snow, 2013. 70 degrees inside and you had to take your coat off when working with the vegetables!

GreenhouseSnow3Small 2

The Friendly  Aquaponics Way Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Trough Liner Distributors:
West Coast USA
East Coast USA

Click here for Trout fry and fingerlings directly from the hatchery to you!

Spanish Language Micro System package now available!

Free Farm Tours

Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


Thousands of inch-long "fifty-cent" baby tilapia from our "backyard" hatchery


What they turn into about a year later: a beautiful 2-pound white tilapia grown in the fish tanks of our aquaponics systems


Sign yourself up for the FIRST

Or sign yourself up for the SECOND

TENNESSEE September 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics, as soon as you register! ($99.95 value)

Micro System Classes!

Join Ben and Alicia Godfrey at Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas for a Micro System training! Call Ben or Alicia directly at 254-697-2927, or email them to sign up for this course. You can visit their website here to see a list of all the other cool classes they offer!

Join David Lindemann in Melbourne, Florida, in one of his Micro System classes: Call David directly at 321-604-6684, or email him to sign up for this course. You can visit David's website here for details of the class and to see all the other cool things he's doing!

Join Kevin Crawford in Longmont, Colorado, in one of his Micro System classes: Call Kevin directly at 720-363-5069, or email him to sign up for this course.

These Texas, Florida, and Colorado one-day live trainings use our $100 Micro System DIY manual as coursebook, and are a real deal!

Also, for a great two day Basic Aquaponics Course, attend Sahib Punjab's Backyard and Small Urban Farming class in Orlando, FL, on the 7th and 8th of September. Sahib's goal in his workshop is to empower you to grow your own food naturally, right in your own backyard.

Visit Sahib's website  for more information.

In The Farmily:

Our Farmily now consists of  ten people; here are a few:

Rose, Queen of the Known Universes, is eight going on 21. She knows what everyone should be doing, and tells them what to do and how to do it frequently. We are doing our best to teach her that she lives in a world where there are other people (just like her) that deserve consideration. The trick is to give her a sense of respect for others without chasing her powerful spirit away.

Jack, our 12-year-old surfer grommet (newbie), works in the aquaponics with us. Jack understands how the systems work and always asks intelligent questions. Jack is a saver, and is on his way to becoming the family mogul: he took the money he made working;  bought his first surfboard and leash, and is a regular on our Saturday morning trips to the nearest surf spot, along with our hanai son Brandon.

Brandon is a gem; he's soft spoken, confident, and always takes a good look at a situation before jumping to a conclusion. He's an incredibly hard worker, and is fun to work with. He's inquisitive, is always trying to learn more to improve his skills and knowledge set.

Brandon just finished completely rebuilding the engine on his car, with a bit of help from his Dad; he's a genuine mechanic now, and we often have conversations about "motor stuff" that go over everyone else's heads.

We call Brandon our "hanai" son (means adopted in Hawaiian) because we feel the same way about him as our biological children: proud of him, protective, and hoping that he has a happy life.

Lucky, our ten-year-old, has traditionally been interested in the kitchen cabinet where the sugar treats are kept, as well as the X-Box, but lately he's been working in the aquaponics almost as much as Jack. He's learning that with regular work comes regular rewards for that work.

This is how we let our kids work: they work until they want to stop, then they quit. We look at how much they helped out, and pay them accordingly, and/or take them to movies, out to dinner, etc, letting them know it was because they pitched in that we could afford these luxuries.

We feel this gives them valuable experience in how the real world works, as well as confidence and abilities that will come in handy their whole lives. What do you mean, you worked an hour but want to be paid for four? LOL!

Jenna, the 24-year-old daughter of a friend, recently graduated college with degrees in psychology and sociology, and joined the Farmily to get real-world experience and a line for her resume. We really appreciate Jenna being here because all the male interns are moving faster, trying to impress her.

But it's a shame that the bureaucrats who manage our country's economy have turned it into a place where a smart woman with education can't even get a minimum wage job because there are none. What can you do about this besides wait for the Federal Reserve to order another round of "Quantitative Easing" (this is known as "printing money" when South American countries do it)?

You can start growing food! Put in a Victory Garden now, even though it's not wartime. It doesn't matter whether you learn how to grow things in the soil OR with aquaponics, but start doing something about your food security now. You will feel more control over your life and destiny if you're moving in a positive direction. The worst that can happen is that you'll have extra to give away to the neighbors.

Aloha, Tim....

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2013

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Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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