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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 118
March 20th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

In today's "Nugget", we cover Part 2 of why we think "Big Ag" will get smaller, and why small local aquaponics and conventional farmers will be more competitive.

Our "In The Farmily" column today, by Susanne, is an extension of last week's column about why we share.

Over the next few newsletters, these two complementary columns will cover why the combination of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouses is an excellent solution to many of the worlds problems today: the high cost of energy, tightening food supplies, changing weather, decreasing availability of water, and social and political unrest.

Friendly 2013 Training Schedule:

New York Training: Saturday, June 8th: TableTop and Backyard Systems
(this is a BENEFIT, by donation); and June 10-14 (Monday thru Friday) , the 5-day Commercial Aquaponics and Energy Efficient Greenhouse Training, $1,495 per person. Registration will open soon.

Commercial Aquaponics and Energy Efficient Greenhouse Training, $1,495 per person (this special $1,000 off discount only applies until April 15th). First 5-day  training: June 17-21st (register here for first training). . Second 5-day training: June 24-28th (register here for second training). (Click here for more information on Tennessee trainings).

We are honoring requests for a five-day training that we received during our last Tennessee training. Our participants suggested this format because it would allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend.

All of these five-day trainings include our $995 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!

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.

1. The three days of the Aquaponics Technology training is everything we know about the techniques and methods of growing with aquaponics. Each day has hands-on segments. In addition, you will spend the latter half of Day Three building several 12-square-foot TableTop Systems from scratch (under our expert eyes, of course). More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.

2. You can take one of these 12-square-foot TableTop systems home, assemble it there, and begin growing with aquaponics immediately, even in the middle of winter! The cost of this kit is only $550; much smaller "kits" from others start at $1,295 and go up from there, not including shipping.

3. The one-day Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course is everything we know about energy-efficient greenhouses, including information and complete CAD plans showing how to build a Chinese-style aquaponic solar greenhouse; and how to convert existing greenhouses to be as energy-efficient as possible. We even show you how to purchase, move, and erect a good used greenhouse for ten cents on the dollar! More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.

4. The one-day Commercial Aquaponics Training is everything we know about all the different ways of making money with aquaponics, from CSA's to Costco, from wholesale to retail, from selling simple produce to producing value-added products, including Health Department Certified Processing Facilities, Food Safety Certification and Organic Certification. We also include our commercial-scale tilapia hatchery and nursery information, so you can raise your own tilapia and make money selling the fry and fingerlings to others also. More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.

Click Here To Find Out More About The 2013 Tennessee Trainings!

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!

  Aquaponics Nugget #117, Part 2: Why The Game's Over For "Big Ag"; And Why It's Just Beginning For The Small Farmer

As we mentioned last week, there are five major areas of concern (also known as "input variables" in the food equation that gets the food to our grocery shelves) that this series will consider: the cost of energy for food production, the effect of weather on food production, the availability of water for food production, and finally, the social forces that are combining to move our society away from oil-expensive, industrialized food production and towards local, energy-efficient food production.


We covered cost of energy for food production in last week’s newsletter. We know you're paying attention, because we only mentioned four areas of concern above. Today’s newsletter tells us why we should be concerned about the effects of weather on our food supply.


Before 2010 Russia had been a major European wheat supplier, but they banned grain exports early in the winter of 2012-2011 when it became obvious that the 2011 harvest season would produce much less than in previous years because of drought (see article here). As much as they wanted the income from their wheat exports, they needed the wheat for domestic consumption even more.


There were also droughts in Russia and in the US in the 2012-2013 wheat season. We don’t have final numbers for those yet, because both of those harvests will occur later in the Spring of 2013, but it looks like the decreased production from both the US and Russia will drop global stockpiles of wheat to the lowest point in years.


Other countries are also affected. Pakistan, for instance, had a drought during early 2010 which drastically affected their wheat crop (see article here), but later in that same year they experienced much greater than normal monsoon flooding (see article here), which also destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of their wheat crop.

Even in Hawaii, which everyone thinks is Paradise, we've had crazy weather. I've been here 37 years, and the first 22 were quite dependable. But in 1997 we had our first drought on the "wet" windward coast of the Big Island, and it lasted so long that towards the end we actually had a forest fire!

Since then, we've had many droughts, from a few months to slightly over a year in duration, in a place that is normally considered "rain forest". That's not all: we've also had three or four periods in the last ten years where we had our entire "normal" yearly rainfall (60 inches of rain) occur during a 2-month period!

These global effects of weather are exacerbated by the fact that overall, we're consuming more food than we're producing. There has been a huge draw down on global grain reserves because of shortfalls in production such as we mention here. This is our food "bank account", and it isn't getting replenished.

Grain stocks are lower than they have been since 2008 (read article from the Earth Policy Institute here), and the FAO (the United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization) has forecast that both production and stockpiles are going to be lower in 2013 than in 2012. Anyone can see that this is not going in a positive direction!

Read this Reuter's article, One of the quotes in the article is "much would depend on the (world) weather situation ensuring better crop production levels next year". This is a fancy way of saying that if the weather doesn't magically get good in the Spring of 2013, we might be hosed!

The effects of weather on food production are an incredibly important factor in the world today, because they largely decide whether or not we can grow enough food to feed everyone. This is not just because some people are getting hungry: we've had famines all over the world for my lifetime.

However, this time things are different: a lot of these people are not the poorest people in the poorest countries, but people who have been fairly well fed most of their lives. This class of people tends to get upset, pick up guns, and try to do something about it long before they are really starving! In other words, civil unrest, political destabilization, and many additional complications arise if people simply get hungry enough.

Here are some examples: the Mexico City tortilla riots in 2008,  Yemen and the "Arab Spring",  and a Wikipedia article that cites "political unrest and government actions (against it) in 22 different countries and regions". These are only a few examples of how lack of food, or the concern about it, can affect our world in ways that simple hunger or famine doesn't.


Here’s the bottom line: we can’t depend on the weather anymore (if we ever could!). We have so many people on the planet now, with such small food stockpiles, that any future weather fluctuations can threaten the survival of the human species somewhere on the planet.

Costco cold room small 2

Our Farmily with our product in a "Big Box" store; the first time ever that a little mom and pop (Aquaponics!) farm took an account away from a multimillion dollar agribusiness. You'll see more of this, because you as consumers will demand it!

(In next week's "Nugget", we'll cover the next part of "Big Ag 0, Small Farmers 3". Thanks for listening!)

The photo below is our Second Generation Solar Greenhouse, at ten in the morning in the Tennessee winter. It's growing plants inside right now, and you have to take your jacket off because it's so warm! It's cool when it's hot, and warm when it's cold (hope that makes sense to you, it's the best greenhouse we've ever seen!).

GreenhouseSnow3Small 2

Watch The Friendly  Aquaponics Philosophy Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!

New Source! Trout Fry/Fingerlings Shipped Directly From the Hatchery To You!

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

Special Offer!

Sign yourself up for the FIRST

Or sign yourself up for the SECOND

TENNESSEE June 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and get a $1,000 discount, plus you receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

Why We Share, Part 2: World Population Overshoot

Aloha All! 

Overshoot (definition)

"All species expand as much as resources allow and predators, parasites, and physical conditions permit. When a species is introduced into a new habitat with abundant
resources that accumulated before its arrival, the population expands rapidly until all the resources are used up."

     - David Price, Energy and Human Evolution 

In Nature, there is a cyclical relationship between the populations of predators and prey. This keeps the populations of both species in check. Below is a chart that tracks the relationship between snowshoe hares (prey) and lynx (predator) in Canada between 1855-1930. It's easy to see how the Canadian lynx population (in blue, representing thousands of lynx) leads the snowshoe hare population (in red, also in thousands)

snowshoe hare lynx small1

But what happens if there are no predators?

This situation was explained very well in a paper by David Klein, "The Introduction, Increase, and Crash of Reindeer on St. Matthew Island," and in an essay "An Ecolate View of the Human Predicament," by Garrett Hardin.

In 1944, 29 reindeer were brought to St. Matthew Island (a remote island in the Bering Sea in Alaska), by the United States Coast Guard to provide an emergency food source. There were no predators to cull the population, and initially, there was abundant food, so the reindeer population grew exponentially.

The Coast Guard abandoned the island a few years later, leaving the reindeer to multiply with nothing to hinder their growth. By 1963, the reindeer population had risen to about 6,000, but then died off very suddenly over the next two years to 42 animals. This population crash is the result of the reindeer overshooting the carrying capacity (food supply) of the island, along with an especially harsh winter in 1963.

By the 1980s, the reindeer population had completely died out. The chart below illustrates the rise and fall of the reindeer population from 1944-1980, from 44, to over 6000, to zero.

Reindeer Population Graph small

This phenomenon is called "overshoot". Environmentalists see this as a natural experiment of effects of overpopulation, and as a classic example of the consequences of overpopulation. In the branch of ecology known as population dynamics, overshoot occurs when a population exceeds the long term carrying capacity of its environment. The consequence of overshoot is always a population crash or die-off. 

So, what does this tell us about the human population, which has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around 1400AD, with the most significant increase happening in the last 50 years?

This rapid increase is mainly due to medical advancements, mostly due to the broad understanding of germ theory - as well as dramatic increases in agricultural productivity allowed by fertilizers produced by fossil fuels.

As of the day I am writing this, March 19, 2013, the world's human population is estimated to be 7.073 billion, according to the US Census Bureau. There is a huge range in the estimates for the "carrying capacity" of the Earth, or it's ability to support humankind, ranging from 4 billion to 16 billion people under existing conditions., and depending on which estimate is used, human overpopulation may have already occurred.

The recent rapid increase in human population has raised significant concerns that our planet may not be able to sustain present numbers of inhabitants, let alone even more. Next Newsletter, we'll talk about the critical problems with any population that  is increasing exponentially.

Thanks for reading,

Aloha, Susanne.....

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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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