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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 72
February 7th, 2012
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

We finished the Solar Greenhouse yesterday, have seven consecutive days of training coming up in four days (during which time Susanne and I need to write the manual for the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course). Susanne and I worked the last two weeks straight without a day off and we're missing our kids.

So I took the easy way out on this newsletter; I omitted the usual "Nuggets" column (we'll resume in two weeks), and re-used last week's "In The Farmily" column about our interns, of whom enough good things cannot be said. My wish is for you to enjoy year-round growing, wherever you are. The Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse technology makes that possible. Aloha, Tim........
This Friendly Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse at the end of the day February 5th, with the sustainable PV energy system installed and operating. Entirely off the grid now, the greenhouse is ready for the installation of our first-generation vertical growing system, the first of it's kind in the world (more about this in a bit!).

Farm intern Mauricio (in red shirt), Tim (in center), and Tacoma (a visitor from Sebastopol, California) inside the newly planted Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse. It's not only a cool space, it's also a "cool" space. Inside the curved beams (which are easily made from construction grade lumber by anyone with normal carpentry experience), with the tightly stretched ETFE film on the outside, it sometimes feels more like a living creature than a static building. It is like a living creature, as it is full of life: the fish in the tank, and all the vegetables growing in there.


This is me (Tim) looking goofy, officially unplugging the solar greenhouse from the grid (that's the extension cord in my hand). In a minute you'll see pictures of the PV system equipment and installation inside the greenhouse.


This is the electrical distribution center of the greenhouse. You can see the flat grey AC distribution panel behind me, the black OutBack charge controller above and to the right, the black ExelTech inverter to the right and below, the DC circuit breaker box to the right of the inverter, and the PV panel breakers in a box with the cover off to the upper right. Batteries are outside the greenhouse, following good practice. Our solar greenhouse training demystifies what all this stuff is, how to purchase it, and how to install it safely.


Inside the DC breaker box; the 150 amp main breaker from the inverter to the battery bank to the left, two 80-amp breakers for two banks of PV panels to the right (one not yet installed).

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I haven't included a photo of our new vertical growing systems, so they will just have to remain a question in your mind for awhile. We're unveiling them to the world for the first time at our February 16-17th, 2012, Solar Greenhouse Training. However, we can definitely say the following about them:

Because of improvements Susanne made in our seeding and planting systems in the last year, our deep water raft aquaponics systems hold 6.45 plants per square foot of raft area. In contrast, UVI's "commercial" system holds 1.5 plants per square foot, and Nelson and Pade's "commercial" system 1200 holds 1.72 plants per square foot.

When you look at "conventional" vertical growing systems, they claim an impressive number of plants per square foot; but they calculate this number based on the number of plants in their growing towers, and DON'T include the space required BETWEEN towers so that the plants can get some light. When you include the "between" space, these systems hold from 3 to 5 plants per square foot of greenhouse space, not even as good as our raft systems.


Our current (first!) generation of vertical growing systems holds 23 plants per square foot. If you simply add another level to our systems, and a "harvesting deck" with a stairways at 6 feet off the ground to harvest and plant the vertical modules from, you will have 46 plants per square foot.

Our technology puts from 44,000 to 88,000 plants in a 24-foot by 100-foot greenhouse footprint, including room for
planting and harvesting operations, fish tanks, and storage. We know improvements can be made even in these numbers, but need to operate this one for awhile to understand the concept better and know which direction(s) we can go.

We've extended the 50% discount on ALL the February trainings for the entire registration period (until the courses start). The purpose of this is to make it as affordable as possible for as many as possible to attend these courses. If you've already registered, thank you for helping support this work.

If you're interested in
learning about our new Solar Greenhouse technology, please take a look at our Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training (Special Offer in right sidebar of this email), where you will learn more about how to grow affordably using aquaponics in greenhouses than you can anywhere else in the world. The FIRST training is in Hawaii in February 2012. For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Apartment/Condo Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our Apartment/Condo System package includes new and easy-to-understand building instructions and complete operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience operating a commercial aquaponics farm. 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!

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 Apartment/Condo Systems!

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Franz Schreier's FIRST Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in full bloom, Heppenheim, Germany, 2011, showing lamellae PV panels and growing plants!

Click Here To See Our New Aquaponics Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!
Free Farm Tours

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month,  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!


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! We've decided to extend the 50% discount for our February 16th-17th Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training and ALL of our Aquaponics Trainings for the entire registration period, right up to when the courses start.

Sign up now, and receive the 50% discount, plus we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

More Information on Hawaii Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training

In The Farmily
Aloha All!

We have by far the most highly qualified interns that we have ever had, and I'd like to introduce them to you. It astounds me the level of participation they bring to our party. Here's a quick run down on our outstanding crew that's here now:

Katie: from Boston, arrived here "accidentally" in August of last year, and came back for a second term. The happiest person I have ever known, and willing to do the worst jobs with laughter and joy. Although only 19, she's running the crew, and gaining valuable management experience while here. Her plan is to take Aquaponics back to Boston, and provide fresh summer produce in the wintertime, with her own Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse. She's from a loving family, and we are so happy they're willing to share her with us

Mauricio: kind, loving, completely supportive, from San Diego. Has already run a small system, and wants to expand into Commercial operation in the greater San Diego area, in partnership with his cousin. Ultimate goal is to raise wet hops to provide to the Microbrewery folks in Southern California, who at present can only obtain dry hops, which are infinitely less desirable.

Jeff: also from the San Diego area. Grounded, incredibly hard worker. Strong, silent type. Loves the technical aspects of aquaponics, and stays as Tim's assistant long after everyone has drifted away, which Tim loves! Jeff eats standing up...I'm not sure what this means...Jeff?

Daniel: from Maui, already an accomplished dirt farmer, literally seven feet tall, and larger than life in everything. Uses amazing IMO (indigenous micro-organisms) and fermentation techniques that he is happily teaching us all. Did I mention he's actually 6'12" tall? Wonderful guy, and an amazing chef! Daniel also eats standing up. Hmmmm....perhaps it's because our kitchen is so small!

Jerry: from the cold country of Denver, Colorado (brrr!), and he's enjoying Hawaii's distinct lack of snow. Jerry has this incredible vision to build a healthy, organic, fast-food alternative restaurant in Denver, sourcing his produce from his own aquaponics farm. Currently still bond trading, Jerry gets up at 2am, and then works all day in the Aquaponics. For obvious reasons, he's the one most interested in the Solar Greenhouse, and he's done almost every bit of the painting on it since he got here (usually my job, now his work clothes look like mine! THANK YOU, JERRY!) And he makes the BEST smoothies!

Isobel: from New Zealand, by way of Wyoming, where she's been working inside the State Correctional Institutions, with her American husband, Stan. Isobel is the kindest, most gentle person ever, and she is SUCH a hard worker!

Love you all! Your support is truly the wind beneath our wings. There are no words to express our gratitude. Seriously.

Our thanks to you all!

**Sus** (Susanne)
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