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Cool Weather Crops in Aquaponics

Aquaponics Lettuces and Greens for Cool Weather Planting
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

The Happy Portable Farmer, Colle Davis (aka The Fish Whisperer), Inventor, with a single head of lettuce from one of his own Portable Farmsâ„¢ Aquaponics Systems that was grown in only 40 days. This is an unretouched photo.Yes, you can grow a variety of crops YEAR ROUND in aquaponics in acclimatized greenhouses and if you install grow lights for use during winter months to extend the light of the day, you can grow both greens and blooming plants (tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers).

However, there is a caveat, the ambient air temperature still determines which crops are easier to grow in cold weather or hot weather. For example, It’s easier to grow fragile greens in cooler weather. Let’s use bib lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce or red leaf lettuce as an example. If the air temperature is too hot, those lettuces will not grow to their maximum size, in fact, they may BOLT before they have even reached their average  growth and are best grown in cooler temperatures. However, in hot seasons, there are far more heat-resistant lettuces available such as Romaine (cos).

(Photo left: A Happy Portable Farmer, Colle Davis (aka The Fish Whisperer and Inventor, with a single head of lettuce from one of his own Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems that was grown in only 40 days. This is an un-retouched photo.

 

Komatsuna summerfest - An Asian Green we prefer over  bib lettuce.

Komatsuna summerfest – An Asian Green we prefer over bib lettuce.

Despite the fact that Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are ‘housed’ in acclimatized greenhouses and provide the ideal water temperature for growing lettuces at 78 degrees F, all seedlings and growing plants (of all varieties) still react to climatic conditions:

  • Air temperature
  • How air temperature effects the temperature of the gravel in the grow beds
  • Humidity levels
  • Sunlight exposure levels
  • Day length
  • Root drainage and water flow
  • Appropriate pH balance and appropriate nutrient levels.

 

Phyllis Davis harvesting greens for a luncheon. That's was one heck-of-a-salad. Yum.

Phyllis Davis harvesting greens for a luncheon. That’s was one heck-of-a-salad. Yum.

In order to create maximum crop yields, careful consideration is always paramount for seed variety and selection for growing at optimal levels by experimenting with small seed batches until you find a seed that offers maximum production in your farm.

Before deciding on one particular seed or seed variety for your farm, experiment first. Since every area of the world offers a variety of seed choices in that country or region, take your time to speak with local growers and seed suppliers to see which seed will work best for you, in your climate, and then purchase a few different varieties of small packets of seeds to experiment in your aquaponics system until you find the seeds that work best for you and your family or future customers.

All varieties of lettuces grow to harvest between 40 and 75 days and most lettuce seeds available for sale have been developed for growing hearty, healthy heads of lettuce in both cool weather and hot weather conditions. 

 

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, holding ONE HEAD of India Mustard. Wow! That will make one gigantic salad!

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor, holding ONE HEAD of India Mustard. Wow! That will make one gigantic salad!

Cool weather lettuces we recommend:

  • Head and Big Lettuces: Arctic King, Buttercrunch, Matchless, North Pole, and Burpee’s Bibb, Red Sails, Prizehead
  • Romaine: Parris Island Cos (the most common)

Heat-tolerant lettuces we recommend:

  • Head lettuces: Gulfstream, Vista, Oak Leaf, Great Lakes, Ithaca, Gator (highly recommended by University of West Virginia). Burpee, Igloo.
  • Leaf Lettuces: Simpson Elite, Burpee’s Heatwave Blend, Black Seeded Simpson
  • Romaine Lettuces (cos): Snappy, Terrapin, Pomulus.
  • Red Lettuces: Redfire and Red Sails.

 

 

 

Aquaponics in Cold Climates Works Well!

Aquaponics in Cold Climates Works Well!
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Winter is coming . . . . Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Now is the time to install your Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems so you can enjoy fresh
and delicious food every day of the year.

When Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are placed inside a climatically adapted greenhouse or other structure especially with supplemental lighting, a year round garden/farm is entirely possible and will eventually/quickly pay for itself in cold climates.

Please note: It is FAR EASIER to heat a greenhouse than it is to cool a greenhouse because the water in the fish tanks is heated to 80 degrees F and that keeps the plants warm all winter. In very cold climates, you may need an oscillating floor heater (the kind you use in a house or office on a cold day), to dump some extra heat in the greenhouse.

greenhouse snowFor a successful Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems installation to be installed in cold climates start by insulating the entire north wall and most of the north roof, insulating most of the east and west walls and insulating the first four feet of the south-facing wall to reduce the heating cost dramatically. Those surfaces do not have to be transparent and can be constructed with several inches of insulation. Supplemental heating can be as simple as several small space heaters placed near the floor. More elaborate gas heaters can also be used and will prevent any area of the structure from dipping below 40°or possibly freezing. We can assist you in designing your cold climate installation or any climate installation.

 

tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusThe water in the fish tanks and the gravel in the Grow Trays are huge ‘heat sinks’ and they can be used effectively to bring the heat up in the structure to a minimum operating temperature by simply cycling the system at the coldest time of the night. This is added protection for the system. It does require either electrical power for the heaters or some type of heat to keep the fish tanks warm.

The fish are going to be delighted at all times because they have heated water in their insulated fish tanks. Each Fish Tank is insulated and heated to a balmy 78° to 80° F no matter what the outside or inside temperature happens to be at any moment.

 

portable-farms-bib-lettuceCooler temperatures inside the structure favor many kinds of greens so a temperature near human comfort level in ideal for many plants. Tomatoes will not set fruit if the temperature goes below 60° for even a few minutes each day. Some lettuces will not grow at all when temperatures go above 95° at any time.

The aim is to have the interior of the structure remain within the range required by the plants being grown. If you are growing only greens, you can allow the temperature to go as low as the high 40’s° at night. If you are growing tomatoes you will need to insure the temperature never goes below 60° at any time. With these very low temperature requirements, the cost of supplemental heating is dramatically lower than in ‘hot’ houses which keep the temperature in the high 70’s.

 

growlightsSupplemental lighting is also highly recommended. Extending the day length four hours will increase the yield from 20 to 30% and speed up harvest times.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems can be successfully operated in any climate. The plants do require being inside a climatically adapted structure and that is determined by the greenhouse manufacturer or the consulting company in charge of the site.

Really cold climates require much more attention to the details of keeping the interior warm enough for the plants, but the rewards to the operator are the best food available anywhere in the world and grown right there on location in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

Contact PFAS LLC today to see how you can now have that year round food supply at your doorstep. LEARN FROM US: CLICK HERE.

 

Preparing for the Next Food Price Crisis

Friends of Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems: It is always a welcome relief to announce some good news regarding lower food prices in the world and this article from World Bank reveals food prices have gone down this fall for wheat and maize. It does NOT mean that greens and table vegetables are more affordable and as we all know, the shelf-life for table vegetables is far shorter than it is for wheat and maize. But, let’s take the good news where we can find it. – Phyllis Davis, President, PFAS LLC

Food Price Watch, September 2014: Prices Hit Four-Year Low; Preparing for the Next Food Price Crisis

- Worldbank.org

food price crises
wheatfield

Global food prices hit a four-year low as of August 2014, driven mainly by sharp decreases in the price of wheat, which went down 19 percent, and maize, which decreased 21 percent between April and August 2014. In contrast, rice prices actually increased 13% during the same period. Prospects for next year’s harvests and food stocks are strong.

Domestic prices remained relatively stable, with notable exceptions across Central America and some parts of Western Africa, the latter partly associated with the Ebola Virus Disease. Prices in individual countries saw their typical variations, with large wheat price increases in monitored markets in Sudan and Ethiopia, and decreases in Argentina. Domestic maize prices decreased in monitored markets across Africa. Rice prices went up in Vietnam, Thailand, and India.

 

“Such a sharp decline in international food prices is welcome, especially given the increases we’ve seen recently. However, as food prices continue to fluctuate and the most vulnerable are faced with new and growing concerns, it is essential to have the tools in place to act quickly if and when food price crises unfold.” Ana Revenga, Senior Director, Poverty Global Practice, The World Bank Group

Against the backdrop of decreased global food prices and relatively stable domestic prices, the World Bank Group is introducing the Food Price Crisis Observatory, an interactive monitoring tool that makes critical knowledge accessible to anyone who is interested. Policymakers, civil society organizations, the private sector, academics, journalists, and interested citizens can easily track food prices and crises at the global, regional, and national levels; monitor food-related violence as it unfolds, and see what kinds of policies have and have not worked to prevent, mitigate, and cope with the effects of food price crises.

The Wonder Fish: TILAPIA

Tilapia, ‘The Wonder Fish’ 
Grown in Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Mozambique tilapia

Mozambique tilapia

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive is concerning the fish that we use in Portable Farms®, “Why Tilapia?'”

In the US, please check with your local Fish and Wildlife Department in your State and see if Tilapia are legal in your area.

It generally takes between 7 and 9 months for a tilapia to grow to maturity and we harvest them then at 1.25 lbs(approximately) which yields two four-ounce fillets.

Our response has been consistent for all-these-many-years. Here are the reasons Tilapia is still our champion and will probably remain so for a long time:

Tilapia are considered a fresh water, warm water fish.’ The plants grown in aquaponics systems grow faster in a warm environment, which requires warm water flowing through the systems. Plants do best at 73° F no matter where they are in the world. They may grow faster or slower in warmer or cooler temperatures, but they grow best with a leaf surface temperature of almost exactly 73° F. That means that the fish in the system need to love and enjoy warm water.

Please note, different countries have different choices for their aquaponics systems with fish that are ‘fresh water, warm water fish’ other than tilapia. For example, in Australia we’re told they favor using barramundi, silver and golden  perch, and catfish. Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems favor using tilapia.

  • Most trout/salmon do not like water over 60° F at which point they begin to experience stress and become susceptible to diseases above this temperature level. This means either the water must be cooled and heated each cycle, or the fish or the plants will be unhappy and not grow well.
  • Trout/salmon are also carnivores and are grown best on animal protein. Commercial trout chow contains fish meal as the protein source and that fish meal is from ocean harvest fish, depleting the ocean fisheries.
  • Catfish, which was our personal first choice, have a different problem. The fry or fingerlings are only available three months of the year (May, June, July) so there is no way for farm owners to constantly restock their fish tanks. Catfish grow quickly, they like warm water, they will eat almost anything, they taste good and are a hardy fish. But, stocking off season is impossible.
  • Perch are carnivores and eat bugs, crayfish and other animals to grow. These are tough to get in the winter time unless you grow them inside for some other purpose. Perch food is tough to get almost any time of the year. Perch taste sweet and are easy to work with but are difficult to find food for them.
  • Crayfish and freshwater prawns are cannibalistic and need to have separate ‘apartments’ built in the tanks so they don’t eat each other. They are sometimes used in the tanks with other fish to clean up the bottom of the tanks. They are very hardy, but the housing for them is a problem.

portable-farms-tilapia1That leaves the incredibly, tasty, hearty and adaptable Tilapia. They are very easy to prepare, taste great, grow quickly, and are available year round. They will eat and prefer plant protein and are very hardy. They prefer a water temperature in the low 80° F’s, the water can be fresh water, brackish water or even salty water, and they do just fine. They will thrive in water that can be dirty looking and still grow and be ready for eating almost anywhere in the world. Of course, our newly configured Portable Farms CAD pumps remove all sediment from the tanks and they swim in clear, clean water that turns over at least twice per day.

Tilapia, ‘The Wonder Fish’ is our choice. In Southern Florida, we use Blue Tilapia because they are legal in the State. In Southern California we recommended the California Hybrid, a cross between the T. mozambique and T. hornorum which tend to be all males.

Baked & Crunchy Tilapia Recipe

Easy Baked & Crunchy Tilapia

from Phyllis Davis’ Tilapia Cookbook, Ten Tantalizing Tilapia Recipes to Titillate Your Taste Buds©

 

This is a super easy and healthy fish dish that is only ‘drizzled’ with olive oil and baked for 17 minutes. What could be easier? You can serve it with a quick cabbage salad and boiled new potatoes and viola! You’ll have a freshly prepared meal in a matter of minutes. And if you own your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System, you’ll have an endless supply of fresh, home-grown tilapia!

 

COOKBOOK COVER 2

Enjoy Tilapia as a Low Calorie, Low Fat, High Protein Alternative to a Skinless Chicken Breast

* 4 oz Tilapia fillet – 105 calories, 1 gram fat, 23 grams protein

* 4 oz skinless chicken breast – 140 calories, 2 grams fat, 33 grams protein

tilapia in pan

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4  (4 ounce) Tilapia fillets cut into 2 or 3 inch strips each (One tilapia generally produces two 4 oz fillets)
  • 1 Cup oat-bran cereal (even cornflakes will work)
  • 1 Teaspoon fresh or dried basil leaves
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
  • ¼ Cup milk (skim or whole)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Secret Tilapia Chutney that WOW’s ‘Em every time

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Teaspoon crushed or creamy horseradish (or more to taste)
  • 3 Tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tablespoons of any mixture of the following choices (use a food processor if you have one): crushed cashew nuts, chopped red or green bell pepper, sliced olives, chopped onion, grated carrots, or chopped broccoli. (optional) Lemon or lime juice.
  • If you want to spice it up, add a dash of cayenne pepper or a dash of Tabasco or Cholula Sauce.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease or spray a medium sized baking pan.
  3. Crush cereal in a small bag with a rolling pin or mix in a food processor.
  4. In one mixing bowl, mix cereal, salt, and pepper.
  5. Cut Tilapia fillets into 2 to 3 inch strips.
  6. In another mixing bowl, pour in milk then dip each of your Tilapia fillets into the milk.
  7. Move the moist Tilapia fillets from the milk into the mixing bowl with the cereal, salt and pepper and bread both sides of the fish.
  8. Place your breaded Tilapia fillets into the baking pan and drizzle olive oil evenly over the Tilapia strips.
  9. Bake uncovered 15 to 17 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  10. While fish is baking, mix and blend all ingredients for the Secret Tilapia Chutney in a small bowl, and when you serve the fish, serve the chutney on the side of the fish on each plate with a lemon wedge.

Serve your Crunchy Tilapia with pinto beans, boiled new potatoes, Hush Puppies or corn bread, and lemon or coconut meringue pie for dessert. Serves 4

“Grow Your Own”

Grow Your Own
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

What arrives in your food is of critical importance to you and your family. For example, the arrival of a tarantula in a bunch of bananas you bring home is bound to be a truly momentous occasion, very exciting, very traumatic and talked about as family legend for several generations.

What about less traumatic and less noticeable things such as chemicals used to kill insects or fungus or used for some other reason we don’t know about coming home in your food? Can minute quantities of these substance harm your family? Who can you trust when it comes to the food you have to eat to stay alive?

If growing your own food is safer and offers food  security FOREVER then it’s time for you to  consider installing your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System to protect you and your family. Besides, it’s FUN AND EASY and is a great family project that requires less than 15 minutes per day to feed a family of 8: plant, harvest and feed the fish and repeat the next day.

 

green pepper syringes 2“The overwhelming majority of pesticides used on U.S. farms do not show up on our food. And yet,

  • 93% of Americans tested by the CDC had metabolites of chlorpyrifos — a nuerotoxic insectide — in their urine. Banned from home use because of its risks to children, chlorpyrifos is part of a family of pesticides (organophosphates) linked to ADHD.
  • 99% of Americans tested positive for DDT degradants, even though DDT hasn’t been used in the U.S. since 1972. Women who were exposed to DDT as girls are 5 times more likely to develop breast cancer.
  • How is it that these two pesticides are found in over 90% of Americans through the food we eat?” – Pesticide Action Network, North America

Don’t even bother to trust the Government to safeguard your family’s health and well being at a level that you feel comfortable with accepting? Probably not at this point in time. The track record of governments around the world very clearing demonstrates a callous disregard for the health and safety of food. Yes, there are regulations regarding ‘food safety’ but it’s almost impossible to monitor every bunch of bananas or every head of lettuce that is shipped to your local market.

 


Sales from locally grown foods have increased 20% PER YEAR over the past ten years with output reaching nearly $11 billion nationwide in the US.

According to the University of Florida, ‘Locally grown food is just what it sounds like–food which is grown near where you live. Buying food from within your community can help preserve habitat for wildlife, save energy, and grow your local economy.’

There is a growing movement across the world to secure and eat organic or at least locally grown foods to increase local economies and reduce the carbon footprint. The movement has become so powerful and wide spread that nearly every major supermarket in the world carries some organic/locally grown food for their discerning customers.  The movement also has pushed seed sales to new heights as more and more people have begin to plant some vegetables for their families so they can control the quality of the food they eat.

To this home-grown movement, add in the idea that the cost of transportation, if it continues to be available, will increase over time. This means that the cost of food will continue to raise and you will receive less and less value for your money.

According to the University of Florida, “Buying locally grown foods decreases dependence on petroleum, a non-renewable energy source. One-fifth of all petroleum used in the United States is used in agriculture. Some statistics show that the average distance food travels in distribution is 1,500 miles. By learning to eat foods that are locally available and in season, families can do their part to save energy. By buying local, you can conserve the large amount of energy used in both the packaging and shipping of food.”

Ah, a solution is already here: Build a Portable Farms Aquaponics System to take advantage of a cutting-edge and water saving technology to safeguard your family’s health and your greenhouse extends your growing season very nicely, and you then can have complete control of what you grow, what you feed your plants and most importantly, what you are feeding your family.

The NEW Enhanced Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems actually deliver a slight excess of everything the plants need, even the light, so every plant always have the perfect conditions for maximum growth. The NEW Enhanced PFAS also has other advantages:

No pesticides are ever used
– – – Less water use than any other type of commercial growing system available today
– – – The waste water is a valuable fertilizer that can be used on other crops or sold at a profit
– – – Waist high work area
– – – No single point of failure
– – – No weeding – ever
– – –  Watering is automatic
– – – No soil or dirt inside the building

PFAS LLC recommends the following ENHANCEMENTS to a regular PFAS installation:
– – – The addition of micro-nutrients that include iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium and 53 other vital minerals are supplied with organic FF-Mineral Rock Dust
– – – High performance greenhouse coverings that protect from weather extremes.
– – – Insulation of all walls and roof that do not contribute direct sunlight to the grow trays
– – – Grow lights capable of providing maximum full spectrum lighting for both greens and blooming plants.
– – – Inert growing medium for planting seeds
– – – Trellis installation for maximum vertical growing for blooming plants
– – – Low cost fish tank heaters
– – – Automatic water leveling system for fish tanks.

Pesticide & GMO Free Food is Rare and Precious

Pesticide & GMO Free Food is Rare and Precious
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

stop gmo hands 2It’s a sad sad sad fact that avoiding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) is difficult when shopping for food today for breads and cereals. There is an enormous fight now to insist that food companies label their food as containing GMO. The (stupid) argument claims that if people are told that a food product contains GMO, they will consider that product inferior and sales will suffer. To date, more than $70 million has been spent JUST in California and Washington to defeat the premise that labels should contain GMO labeling because there is not enough proof that GMO harms human health.

Oh please . . . wake up folks.

PLEASE NOTE: GMO seeds are commonly used in field crops like corn and wheat but will KILL broad leaf vegetables like tomatoes and lettuces. There are many misconceptions about GMO seeds used in planting typical vegetable gardens and Portable Farms® uses NO GMO seeds in our aquaponics systems. GMO seeds are commonly used in the crops corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sugar, zucchini, squash, papaya, aspartame, and milk products. Here is a list of products containing GMO (scary list – we have always loved Thomas English Muffins, but no more).

What are GMOs, anyway? “Genetically modified organisms are created by deliberately changing the genetic makeup of a plant or animal in ways that could never occur in nature. The majority of GMO crops currently on the market have been genetically engineered to produce their own pesticides and/or withstand herbicides that normally would kill them. Farmers use the herbicides to control weeds.”- Consumer Reports, Where GMOs hide in your food – New Consumer Reports’ tests find genetically modified organisms

pesticidefreezoneNow the real world enters the picture. The number one request from concerned foodies is for ‘locally grown, pesticide free’ produce. Do you see the word ‘organic’ in that request? No, you do not. Here is an example that may help illustrate the problem pulled from actual experience: If a Mexican/Israeli farmer can receive $2 per pound for organically labeled tomatoes or $.80 per pound for non organic, which box will they pack first? You have absolutely no assurance the tomato you are purchasing is really organic. You have to trust a whole list of people with your health and your money.

 

If your local commercial aquaponics company is offering ‘locally grown, pesticide free’ tomatoes, there is a much higher probability that what you are buying is exactly what is advertised because it is locally grown (in many cases you can actually visit the installation) and there are fish in the system to protect their health as well as YOUR health. If harsh chemicals or pesticides were used, the fish would die. [Weird to think that fish are protecting you and helping to deliver the best produce you can buy.]

Phyllis Davis  harvesting ripe delicious tomatoes ranging from one-half pound to two pounds per tomato.

Phyllis Davis harvesting ripe delicious tomatoes ranging from one-half pound to two pounds per tomato.

In today’s reality, is the money meeting the full faith and credit of the food industry? Can you be assured that the organic food you purchase is organic without testing each batch? No, you cannot. Today’s consumer is expected to blindly accept the word if an entire chain of people from farmer to packer to distributor to grocer and any one of them may inadvertently (or purposely) provide you with inaccurate information. This is not to say these people are deliberately dishonest, it is to say that the truth may not be known and it is VERY hard to verify their honesty.

Buying locally grown, pesticide free produce where fish are in the system gives you a much shorter and easily verifiable in the food chain from producer to your table. A local grower has a much greater incentive to provide exactly what they are advertising because the local people will spot a problem or a lie very quickly. Plus, the local producer is a member of the community and in many cases this alone will insure a measure of honesty.

 

However, growing your own food with a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System offers you full assurance that you are not using pesticides to grow your food.

YEAR ROUND Ideal Growing Conditions

YEAR ROUND Ideal Growing Conditions = Feeding the World
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis 

indiamustard3

One single head of India Mustard (tastes like a spicy lettuce) that was harvested from a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

phyllisnewboquet3

 Question: “How is it possible that Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems can grow such DELICIOUS and nutrient rich food year round?”

Answers:

  • In sunlight, plans use photosynthesis to turn CO2 and water into oxygen and sugar.
  • In the dark, plants switch to the same system animals use to stay alive, the building and repair of the organism itself.
  • Added to this phenomena of growth, is the fact that as the temperature increases, chemical activity speeds up.

greenbean aquaponicsThe closer to the ‘ideal’ temperature the better for the plants to grow. The ideal temperature for plant growth is, interestingly, 73° F at the leaf surface or about the same temperature as humans enjoy.

In a climatically adapted greenhouse, temperatures are regulated so the maximum temperature the plants can comfortably tolerate is never reached and the lowest temperature that the particular plant can grow at, produce the best possible conditions for growth.

To have a warm garden in the winter time takes some planning but once it is in place, it will produce prodigious amounts of happy food. For a plant to have all of the nutrients and water it can possibly use delivered to its roots before it even needs them means the plant can grow a quickly as possible because there are no limiting factors.

  • All of the food (nutrients) for the plants arrives before the plants need it, or want it.
  • The water is always available and it is refreshed a couple of times a day
  • The light levels are always perfect in the structure
  • The air circulates in a gentle fashion to help with pollination and to help avoid dampness in the structure
  • The temperature is pleasant and varies a bit so as not to be monotonous
  • There are no bugs or weeds or poisons or harsh chemicals used to contend with, ever.
  • The water in the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems turns over ENTIRELY twice a day. Plus, all of the heavy fish poop has been removed and rerouted so it never flows into the Grow Tray or has contact with the plants.

As a result of an ideal environment:

  • The plants grow faster than the seed packets say they will
  • Food grown in an aquaponics system is much healthier than ‘regularly’ grown plants, and as a result, they are healthier for you, they TASTE BETTER and are higher in nutrition.
  • The food in an aquaponics system is grown without any chemicals (think about it; if chemicals were used, it would kill the fish). The growing food is more beautiful with each passing day
  • The plants mature in less time and require 90 to 95% less water than their dirt-grown friends
  • The plants stay clean and dry at all times
  • They are harvested when they are at their peak of ripeness and maturation which means their flavor and nutritional content are always at optimal levels
  • They are simply the best vegetables on the planet.

One of the (many) key reasons plants in Portable Farms® grow so quickly and so LARGE is because the plants roots are bathed in warm water that is loaded with nutrients and are supported by warm gravel in a warm building. What more could they possibly want or need? Portable Farms® spoil the plants and and cater to their every need for comfort.

Interior of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. Photo taken January 3, 2012.

Interior of a Portable Farms Aquaponics System. 

To provide the absolute ideal conditions for growth and health to any living being, gives them everything they need to be their best. This is true of plants in a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System, raising animals and even raising children. The raising children thing is much harder actually. At least we don’t have to eat them. :)

Start the process of having your warm garden by taking the Aquaponics University Aquaponics Online Course today and have warm healthy and delicious plants in only a few weeks.

ATTENTION NON PROFIT GROUPS: Aquaponics to Feed the Hungry

ATTENTION NON PROFIT GROUPS: Aquaponics to Feed the Hungry 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

homeless hungry

 

The allure of finding a way to provide food for those who need it most is an amazingly powerful desire for many to play a part to help keep society healthy and growing. However, the built-in problem is finding a way to accomplish this feat as a sustainable business model.

The question we ask those who call us regarding the use of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems in areas of charitable giving is, “How can you feed the ‘poor’ and make enough profit by selling food so the system pays for itself and has the funds to continue to operate over time?”

 

According to WorldHunger.orgIn 2012, 14.5 percent of households (17.6 million households, approximately one in seven), in the US were food insecure.  This percentage is the same as 2008, and has been the highest number recorded since these statistics have been kept.

The solutions for solving global hunger problems are multi-faceted and involve both poverty and water scarcity:

 

Region % in  $1.25 a day poverty Population (millions) Pop. in $1 a day poverty (millions)
East Asia and Pacific 16.8 1,884 316
Latin America and the Caribbean  8.2 550 45
South Asia 40.4 1,476 596
Sub-Saharan Africa 50.9 763 388
  Total Developing countries 28,8 4673 1345
Europe and Central Asia 0.04 473 17
Middle East and North Africa 0.04 305 11
Total 5451 1372

bizgroupThe answer to the question of feeding the hungry is vital to know because like any successful business or enterprise, there are ongoing costs that must be paid or even the best-intentions will eventually fail.

No foundation, grant, government agency, corporate sponsorship or individual contribution can continue to fund an operation forever and ever and ever. At some point, their priorities change or they are no longer able to ‘give’ and that funding ends.

Please note: The majority of the food grown in Portable Farms® MUST be sold and not given away to those in need. Why? Because the focus of donor funding always shifts, over time, to various causes and if (for whatever reason) the funders or donors who are supplying the money for the ongoing costs of labor, water, electricity, etc., required to operate a Portable Farm decide to reallocate that funding to another cause, the aquaponics system will eventually fail. While good deeds are encouraged in the world, nothing (not even funding) lasts forever. However, if food grown in Portable Farms® is SOLD (even at a reduced price) to pay the necessary operating expenses for the Portable Farm, the operation has a chance for long-term survival in that community.

please give ladyA different approach would be to have the installation operated by paid workers and using some of the food that is grown (fish and vegetables) be given to local food banks or other charity-distribution organizations (soup kitchens, shelters, etc.), and selling the rest to local food markets in the area, or you can sell the rest of the food at greatly reduced (lower) prices to make sure the installation at least breaks even and can continue to operate.

As a business model commercial aquaponics does not appear to be an ideal solution for urban food deserts and feeding the needy. But wait, there may be some structure that may work.

In inner cities with large populations, a professionally operated commercial aquaponics system could sell the produce locally and fulfill the mandates of producing food locally and feeding the hungry. Here is one possibility:

Working with an investor, foundation, charity or community group to fund the initial capital cost of the installation of a commercial aquaponics system and instead of focusing on the high-end restaurants, resort hotels, casinos, upscale markets, hospitals and prisons, focus instead on selling to the locals in the community. The locals can pay the going prices for the produce and the owners can realize a profit because the systems produce food very inexpensively and there are no transportation costs. If those who purchase the food are willing to donate some of the food they purchase back to those in need as a charitable contribution, it benefits everyone in the community.

Commercial aquaponics installations are ‘front end capital loaded,’ meaning that the initial cost is mostly in the building of the installation. The ongoing and operational expenses are very reasonable and easily covered from revenue.

aug 20 farm interior aquaponicsOne of the most compelling facets of the Portable Farms Aquaponics System is that it starts producing food and a cash flow within four to five weeks after completion.

A win: win is in order here. The ROI (return on investment) may get stretched out a bit longer than a typical ‘for profit venture,’ but the locals will have fresh, locally grown, pesticide free food that they can enjoy and at the same time, they have an opportunity to give back to their community. Expansion can also be funded by the cash flow from the commercial installation.

 

 

Feeding the World with Portable Farms®

Portable FarmsFeeding the World with Portable Farms®
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

 Our article on the Portable Farms® website, Feeding a Family of Five, went around the world in 24 hours and drew interest from readers in over 140 countries. After all, our loyal readers are looking for immediate solutions to their own food needs. They want to avoid worrying about the cost of food, relying on coupons, tainted food, and staying current on sales from local grocery stores; they’re interested in creating a never-ending supply of fresh, pesticide free food near their kitchen so they never have to buy their table vegetables at their grocery store again, EVER.

Please note: The majority of the food grown in Portable Farms® that is not consumed by the owners MUST be sold and not given away to those in need. Why? Because the focus of donor funding always shifts, over time, to various causes and if (for whatever reason) the funders or donors who are supplying the money for the ongoing costs of labor, water, electricity, etc., required to operate a Portable Farm decide to reallocate that funding to another cause, the aquaponics system will eventually fail. While good deeds are encouraged in the world, nothing (not even funding) lasts forever. However, if food grown in Portable Farms® is SOLD to pay the necessary operating expenses for the Portable Farm, the operation has a chance for long-term survival in that community.

The question we have received most often about community aquaponics installations is:  “How can a larger group use an aquaponics system to become more locally self reliant?”

Here is our answer: “By using the same formula of 25 sq ft to feed one adult, any group can sit down and figure out what size system they need to feed their members or target audience. For example, if a group wants to feed 240 people, they would need 6,000 square feet of grow space which fits perfectly into a 10,000 sq ft greenhouse in ¼ acre. That will provide them with most of their table vegetables and fish, a regular source of healthy protein, forever. It would not include root vegetables like potatoes. carrots nor legumes and grains.”

If your organization is focused on ways to help the children in your community or somewhere else in the world, the same formula can be applied. In many cases, part of that help can also include jobs for their parents and help teach the children about ‘the cycle of life’ and the value and benefits of healthy nutritional habits. 

A religious organization can very easily address the needs of their congregants or a target group that they are assisting by using the same ‘people to grow space’ formula. For a group of one hundred persons in need, a PFAS Unit containing only 4,000 sq ft of enclosed space will do the job. That is a greenhouse only 50 x 80 feet. Nearly every religious organization has that much space in their parking lot or in an open area next to their main church building. This size will provide all of the table vegetables and some of the fish needs for the 100 people or it will also help supplement the needs of nearly twice that many people.

Community groups can also start a locally supported installation and be able to leverage their resources to a much greater degree with an investment in a permanent food-production facility run by local semi-skilled labor. The opportunity to serve the community and actually have the system help pay for itself over time is a huge advantage over nearly any other source of food items. Plus, it offers employment to a few of the locals ‘in need’ for a permanent full time job.

Even nonprofit organizations can step in and serve their community in a way that outlasts the original donor’s money. By using donor money, they can erect one or more Units, perhaps under the name of the donor, and the system becomes an income-generating fixture to the organization, or at least self sustaining investment, as it serves the target group. Even programs that are designed to provide ‘in-home help’ can benefit from having an aquaponics system on site or close by to provide food for the recipients. 

For those who wish to give to, and to support those who are less fortunate, our aquaponics systems are a way to leverage their giving. By setting up a foundation or charity which actually owns the installations, an individual, or family, or organization can dramatically impact the lives of those they wish to help and insure their money is put to work doing the most possible good.

In today’s world of chaos, fear, hunger, poverty, dishonesty and crushing bureaucracy, there is a way to help those as close as your family or as inclusive as your community or even a larger section of the earth by installing an aquaponics system. Now you or your organization can really make a difference in people’s lives, forever, by feeding people and providing employment to those who need it most. 

 

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