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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 63
November 24th,  2011
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,

First, I'm writing this rather late on the night before Thanksgiving, so I'm going to cheat! I'm re-using Susanne's "Farmily" column from last week instead of writing a brand-new one. But I will give you a short piece on one of Friendly's new training partners: David Lindemann of Sweetleaf Aquaponics in Melbourne, Florida.


David has 512 square feet of aquaponics trough area in a system that probably cost about $5,000 in materials to build. When we visited him in September, although it was still quite hot, he had a wide variety of vegetables growing and his plants looked quite good for having NO protective structure of any kind. That's right: David is growing outside in the open in a most difficult climate. Farmers say that in humid Florida in the summertime the only things you can grow are green beans and okra, but David had a much wider variety of vegetables in his system.


On this same Florida trip, we were able to visit a $1,500,000 rooftop greenhouse growing facility called Green Sky, in a little town called Winter Garden. With glass glazing, air conditioners, water walls, fans, automated shading screens and vents, it was a state-of-the-art facility. We noticed something immediately: there were almost exactly the same number of plant spaces in this million-dollar facility as in David Lindemann's $5,000 installation. One thing we're certain about: of these two facilities, we'd bet that David's is the profitable one.


David is holding his next Micro System training in Melbourne, Florida, on January 21st, 2012. You can contact David by emailing him at dave@sweetleafaquaponics.com, or call him at 321-604-6684 to find out more about courses. David is teaching Micro System courses that cover aquaponics systems up to 512 square feet in size.


If you're interested in
learning about this 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:
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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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Aquaponics Nugget #63:
A Primer On Sustainable Energy-Efficient Greenhouses, Part 4


This column is an ongoing series on how to understand, build, and operate energy-efficient greenhouses. If you missed any of the previous newsletters in this series, you can click here: "Back Issues Of Newsletters" to read them first if you wish.

We're building a Chinese-style Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse that is very similar to Franz Schreier's (click here to see Franz's "Solar Greenhouse" slideshow). This Chinese-style greenhouse is the most energy-efficient if you are north of 21 degrees North latitude, or south of 21 degrees South latitude. If you don't want to build this kind of greenhouse from scratch, there are other options open that still incorporate most of the benefits of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse. We'll cover one of them in today's column.

There are greenhouse businesses all over the US that grew flowers and ornamental plants, for which there is very little market in today's economy. You can purchase a greenhouse from one of these companies for pennies on the dollar, disassemble it, and transport it to your location for reassembly and reconfiguration as an Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse. But you won't simply rebuild it as it was; there are several improvements (we will cover these in the next few newsletters) that you will make so it is more energy efficient and durable. Here's how you do it:

First, do your web-based "due diligence": put "Wanted" ads on Craigslist for your area, for the size of greenhouse you want, and for your price range; and of course, also search Craigslist, Ebay, and other online auctions for your greenhouse. What are you looking for in a greenhouse? You want one that has a full-length screened ridge vent for venting hot air in summertime, that can be opened manually from the ground. You also want one that has roll-up side curtains and end walls (these are usually the first 4 to 5 feet in height of the sides and ends) that can also be manually operated, so that you can let in cool air. If it has "Aluminet" or similar sliding mesh shades inside, they're a plus. If it has what are called "water walls" they are a plus, but they're not necessary, as you can easily build your own later.

What you DON'T need: you don't need to spend any money on air conditioning units, air conditioning ducting or fans, propane space heaters (air heaters); these are all a waste of money to remove and reinstall; in fact, don't even accept these if the owner gives them away for FREE! You're going to be using MUCH more energy-efficient heating and cooling systems than these outmoded and energy-wasting ones! Don't worry if the greenhouse sides seem high; you can make them shorter by cutting the wall columns shorter when you reinstall it at your site.

What you ARE looking for is a relatively new structure that has no rust; they're all made of galvanized metal. Don't worry if the owner says "the glazing or plastic covering is old", you're going to replace that anyway with Asahi Glass' ETFE film. Also, it needs to be reasonably-priced; to determine if you're getting a deal or getting scammed, get the brand name and model, then call the manufacturer for a current price, plus shipping to your location; now you will have an idea of what "discount" you are getting for the used house. It's VERY likely that if you are persistent and polite, you can find a greenhouse in good condition for ten to twenty cents on the "original" dollar cost. Third, being reasonably nearby may also be a benefit; read the next few paragraphs, then you can determine how far away "too far" is for you.

Let's say you've found your greenhouse. The next step is to get a good tent and some camping gear, and take your work crew, tools, U-Haul truck and/or flatbed trailer to the greenhouse site. You're going to camp at the greenhouse's location and take the greenhouse apart, taking photos and making sketches and labeling and numbering the parts as you go, so it's easy to reassemble when you get it home. You've got a gas-powered compressor for air wrenches (for undoing bolts); and a generator to charge battery-powered drills (for removing screws) and for electric tools and lights (and TV for after work hours). If the greenhouse has columns that go straight down into concrete piers, you'll want to rent a portable electric metal bandsaw or a cutting torch (make sure you know how to use these!) at your rental place that you can cut the columns off at the base with.

Take your crew and do a tour or two around the house before you pick up tools, and familiarize yourself with it to figure out how to take it apart with the least amount of work. As you take it apart, stack and bundle "same" items together on your trailer or U-haul truck. Put each separate length of bolts in a coffee can (or 5-gallon bucket) which you remembered to bring for this purpose, and label them so you know later where they go and what they connect together. If the deal you struck with the greenhouse owner includes cleaning up the garbage when you leave, you'll want to have an extra pickup truck along that you can haul stuff to the nearest dump with.

When you finish, you should have a U-Haul truck or trailer full of neatly labeled bundles of metal beams, columns, tie straps, braces, and buckets and cans of bolts and screws; and also a camera full of pictures and a sketch book full of sketches. Was it worth it? Yes! Here's why:

If you purchase a brand-new greenhouse from the manufacturer, it's a bunch of parts and bolts that comes in a crate, and you are going to have to assemble it ANYWAY. If you buy a new one, your crew WON'T be familiar with all the parts and pieces. They will be slow and tentative, and may make mistakes that require backing up and beginning again. The BEST way to figure out how something goes TOGETHER is to take it APART! This is why taking apart an existing greenhouse is so valuable: it trains your crew, and when they DO put it together again at your place, the work goes smoothly and quickly, and even if you're paying for this labor, you still may pay LESS or about the same as if you just had a crew assemble a new greenhouse at your site.

Another reason it is worth it: you may get a $30,000 greenhouse (that would cost another $3,000 to ship to you!); landed at your site for $3-6,000 plus another $1,500 worth of U-Haul rental, gas, tool rental, new bolts and screws, and so on.

Next week, we'll start explaining the steps you will take as you reassemble the greenhouse to make it more energy-efficient, durable, and economical to operate.

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

(Next week: More on the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse, and how you can build your own! Thanks for listening!).

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

Free Farm Tours
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Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

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!


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



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


Special Offer! Sign up for our February 16th-17th Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training before December 15th, and receive a 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

This week we'd like to invite a deeper connection between our Farmily and you. It seems that every week we send out a newsletter, we get between 40-50 people who not only read it, but care enough about what they've read to reply to us. Every week, people send us comments, stories, and most deeply appreciated words of support. People have come out of the woodwork to assure us that we're doing good things, and they tell us how we have impacted their lives for the better.

Some people have posted their blogs to the Internet, for people to follow along. Here's a great example of this: www.aquaponicfun.com, this is incredibly good information posted by a family in Texas, where records were set this past summer for 70 days over 100 degree F.. They're running a Micro System built from our plans, with photos and charts, and excellent commentary.

All these comments have been hugely appreciated, though we never solicited them. I'd like to change that. We'd like to hear from you. It provides so much encouragement to us, especially when set against the few less than happy, fulfilled people who have made it their hobby to try to damage us in any way possible, using the Internet as their platform.

We're asking for powerful statements about how our work has impacted your life, and what you have built with the information you have received from us, to use as testimonials on our web site. If you're willing to give us permission to use your full name, and where you call home, we'd be honored to hear from you, and use your testimony.

You see, we hear from just enough of you to realize that we have an amazing group of people out there who support us and want us to win. There are people who understand our deep commitment to remaining open source, and our reasons why we want you ALL to teach Aquaponics. We realize there are people who "get" us, and want to connect more fully with you, to "get" you back.

We would also be honored to see photos of what you've built as well, so please include them if possible! And if you have a website, or a blogspot, please share that as well. We'll feature some of you in future newsletters, and put together a web page on our site to feature your comments, your story, and your photos!

WIth deep 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, 2008-2011

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