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Become a Millionaire on One Acre with Aquaponics

Become a Millionaire on One Acre with Aquaponics 
– by Colle Davis, Phil Estes and Phyllis Davis


http://portablefarms.com is ranked in the top 224,619 websites in the United States
and in the top 475,180 websites in the world. – Alexa.com November 17, 2014

poor to rich

ACRES GRENHOUSESThe most common request we receive from those would like to become commercial aquaponics farmers is from people who already have the land and want to begin to cover it in aquaponics installations, BUT they do not have the money to make the initial large investment.


engineer3One acre of flat, level land covered with four Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems can make you a millionaire and with an ongoing income of over $300,000 from the full acre per year NET. To fund this size operation all at one time requires approximately US$1.2Million. Here are several scenarios that demonstrate how to achieve this level of success is stages over time.

Your personal situation will obviously differ from these specific instances, but you can use these scenarios as examples and then adjust them for your unique situation.

Much of this information can be found in our Executive Summary Report available from PFAS LLC. after completing a Mutual Non Disclosure Agreement.

First we have to make some basic assumptions so we are all on the same page:


  • Land cost is not a factor – meaning the land is owned or leased at a low rate already
  • You have access to $200,000 of capital or the ability to borrow that much
  • Hard work is not a problem
  • Marketing is a passion and a way of life for you
  • You or your partners have successfully operated a growing business for more than 5 years
  • You are willing to invest the time to prepare a quality business plan before you begin.

portable-farms-changing-the-worldFive Suggested Scenarios and Options for Beginning your Aquaponics Business:  

  • First Scenario:

You already own the land and it has access to electricity and water and it is mostly flat and level.  While solar power and well water are options, they come with additional costs. This land is located near your potential markets for selling your food, and you do not have the investment capital to begin the project. Currently, your land is not paying you anything in return but you are paying taxes on it, and there are other normal expenses that you incur by owning it.

clipart-farm2(Brace yourself, this suggestion may hurt . . . )

Sell enough of your land to fund the first acre or even the first 10,000 sq. ft. aquaponics installation. That way, it is your money you are investing in your own aquaponics business and you are paying yourself back with interest. For example, the ‘average’ size of currently owned acreage of those we have talked with, is 10 to 12 acres (the range is from 2 acres to several thousand acres). If a portion of this land was sold, even most of it, the project could be at least partially funded from the proceeds.


  • Second Scenario:

Refinance the land and use the proceeds to build the first aquaponics installation(s). This may or may not please your banker, but he will enjoy being paid back in a few years.

  • Third Scenario:


Find some partners to fund the installation of the aquaponics installation on your land. Be the ‘land guy’ and be willing to structure the deal so you are the last to be paid off. After all, it is your land and the installation is on your property and it will be producing income far into the future. You may even want to structure the deal to pay off your partners in total, first, and then you will continue to receive all the income for yourself.




  • Fourth Scenario:

Horse FarmYou don’t own the land but you know someone who does own it, and you are willing to do all the work to make this project happen. Ask them for permission for you to use one acre of their land for aquaponics installations for a piece of the action. In layman’s terms this means they receive some of the profits. Approach several other investors to fund the installations and then you would provide the hard work of operating the commercial aquaponics system. This is the hardest scenario to accomplish UNLESS you have a proven track record running businesses.


  • Fifth Scenario:

greenhousepaintedpanels2Find a number of existing greenhouses in your area that you can lease and then install the Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems Modules to fit the greenhouse(s). Then use this installation to generate the capital needed to finance the expansion of additional units on your unused property. The upfront cost of doing this is a fraction of the cost of building from scratch.

Okay, enough with the options, let’s get down to the numbers.




  • A single 10,000 sq. ft. greenhouse structure, just the building, NOT the PFAS Technology, has an initial capital cost of US$130,000 to US$230,000 (depending on the cost of the greenhouse you choose) but does not include the land/property costs
  • A single 10,000 sq. ft. facility can hold approximately 30 Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems Modules costing from $80,000 to $100,000, installed
  • The ROI can be from 2 to 4 years depending on your markets and the crops you choose to grow and sell
  • Payroll for two full time employees to operate a single commercial PFAS Unit (30 modules)
  • The Net-Net for this example is US$100,000 per year
  • Four PFAS Units (120 modules) are needed to be a millionaire
  • Four PFAS Units will require approximately US$1,000,000 of initial investment. 

chef proud 2To start, do your homework, complete your marketing survey, talk to the casino, high end restaurant and resort hotel chefs to see how much of their weekly produce they are willing to buy from you. Talk to at least TEN chefs, add the numbers of different vegetables they are requesting together, divide by two (this gives you the built in expansion for your business) and design your installation to fulfill that amount of produce by the end of your first year of production.

Yep, it’s a LOT of hard work, focus, yours and/or other people’s money and a dedication to bringing the finest food on the planet to your market that can make you a millionaire is a few short years. You actually have to do the work to get there. PFAS LLC’s Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems technology is one way to have fun in the process.

Backyard Aquaponics is FUN & EASY

Backyard Aquaponics is FUN & EASY
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis


The suggestions in this article cover the alternatives and additional information available to enhance your backyard aquaponics installation to help your family become more self-sustaining and less dependent on transported food and yes, even healthier.

We have included solar and other alternative power sources, use of catchment for water, seed selection, integration with other growing methods and several other topics to increase the impact your new aquaponics system will have on you, your family and the world.

The aquaponics system that you are installing into your backyard will be unique to YOU and YOUR design choices for the overall look and feel of your system. There will not be another one like it on the planet. Even if you build two systems that are side-by-side and are exactly the same, they will function differently.

These hoop houses for aquaponics systems were a DISASTER because there was not enough space above the side grow trays for air circulation and the walls would be hot and burn the plants and heat the gravel. We do NOT recommend hoop houses for aquaponics.We do NOT NOT NOT RECOMMEND HOOP HOUSES FOR AQUAPONICS. We learned the HARD WAY. (Reasons stated below.)

These hoop houses for aquaponics systems were not as effective as we would have hoped because there was not enough air space above the grow trays for proper air circulation and the walls would get hot and burn the plant’s leaves and it would also heat the gravel in the grow trays and burn the plant’s roots. We do NOT recommend hoop houses for aquaponics unless they are set on a stem wall and there is an aisle between the wall and the tray. We learned the hard way and we’ve spent many years strongly suggesting to people to allow between 8′ and 10′ space above their grow trays!

View this 1 minute video clip of the interior of the Portable Farms Experimental and Research Center in North San Diego County, California, and see the three trays mentioned in the section below.

If your pH in your fish tanks is higher than 7, your plants won’t be able to absorb the necessary nutrients in the water to grow to healthy plants.

Most commercial installations experience this same oddity of varying pH readings in their fish tanks too.

  • Powering a backyard aquaponics system with solar power is incredibly simply and inexpensive. Because nearly all of the electrical power needed in an aquaponics system in needed during the daylight hours, the storage can be much smaller than that for a house or garage. Here is a suggestion that we actually did for one of our farms:

Using a 45 watt panel (or three 15 watt panels) a controller, an inverter, and one or two deep cycle batteries will make your installation ‘off the grid’ and as subject to interruptions as a grid-connected unit. If you have access to a wind generator, you can also use it to charge the batteries.

 solar panels sun1a aquaponics

  • In many areas, water is a limiting factor and using the runoff from the greenhouse itself and that from the house/garage will – in nearly every case – provide more than enough water to operate the aquaponics system. The use of rainwater storage is very straight forward and even if you need to have a small pump to move the water to the fish tank(s) because the tanks are below their level it is a tiny amount of energy and the use of the rainwater takes you completely off the grid.

rain barrel'

  • Seed selection is up to you. We mostly use organic seeds and we NEVER use GMO seeds of any kind. Often we are asked about saving seeds. If you want to save seeds from flowering plants it may be fine to let a pepper or tomato or cucumber go past their normal harvest for seeds, but greens take so long to flower, that it’s almost never a good idea to take up the grow space to provide your own seeds. Again this is entirely up to you

seeds 8 18Seeds are planted in an inert medium prior to replanting in the grow trays.

  • Because Portable Farms move the heavy fish waste lumps to a clarifier, we recommend using it to fertilize plants outside the farm. Because this ‘waste water’ is high in nutrients and is completely non-toxic, reuse it on fruit trees, roses, lawns, gardens and anywhere else you can apply compost. It is also a wonderful addition to compost because of it high nitrogen content. Some installations have ever sold the ‘waste’ as an organic fertilizer because they have no room to use it themselves.

Add the fish waste to your composting as a way of adding a higher nitrogen source.

There you have the steps necessary for becoming a backyard aquaponics farmer.

GOOD LUCK and happy growing!


Cost of Materials for Aquaponics System

Cost of Materials for Aquaponics System

– By Colle and Phyllis Davis





What will it actually cost you to build a backyard aquaponics system so it will be a high intensity food production facility that grows healthy food year round?






table1This installation includes the grow tray(s), fish tank(s) and other items necessary for your system to operate at its peak performance. The acceptable ratios of the components to each other to maximize your production and protect the system are covered in this article.
Here are some parameters and ratios you will need to keep in mind when sizing and ordering materials

  1. The maximum comfortable distance for a person to reach across at counter-height is a width of 36 inches (1m), so a grow tray with only one side exposed can only be 36 inches wide. For a grow tray with both sides facing an aisle the maximum width can be six feet (1.85m).
  2. The aisles need to be a minimum of 30 inches (.76m) for comfort and safety
  3. The grow trays are restricted to 200 sq ft due for ease of working with aisles and carrying harvested vegetables out to the building.
  4. Grow trays must be water proof and absolutely level in both directions. The most commonly built grow trays are wooden tray tables with pond liners.

fish tank2

  1. Fish tanks can be livestock watering troughs, concrete or lined wooden structure. They do not need an outlets or drains and must be water proof.
  2. PVC pipe is inexpensive and available everywhere in the world. You will need more than you expect.
  3. The maximum ratio of grow tray space to gallons of water is 1:2.
  4. The maximum ratio of fish to water is one fish per gallon.



A completed Portable Farms® Aquaponics System before the plants or the fish have been installed.

A completed Portable Farms® Aquaponics System before the plants or the fish have been installed.

  1. Greenhouse covering range from relatively cheap construction-site plastic to quality greenhouse covers. The cheap stuff may last a year, but we have vendors who provide us with a quality product that lasts up to 25 years. It’s not a contest, but buy what you can afford.
  2. Make sure you insect proof EVERYTHING. The door is the preferred entrance for bugs. Every inch of opening has to be covered in screen. Storm doors are commonly carried in cooler/colder climates.
  3. The 2×4’s, 2×6’s, plywood, 1×2’s, insulation for the fish tank, PVC pipe and fittings, and a few more items are readily available at the home centers will usually be a pickup load of materials necessary to complete the system.
  4. Using all of the above information here are some examples of the expected cost of a backyard installation (including the US$2,500 cost of the Aquaponics University’s Portable Farms™ Aquaponics System Course© .
  5. A stand-alone climatically adapted structure of 10’ x 16’ containing one Grow Tray 5’ wide and 12’ long will require an investment of approximately US$4,800. This will provide a grow tray space of 60 sq ft or enough to feed two adults.

To build a top-notch aquaponics system that is also esthetically appealing is about $35 per sq ft.; this amount includes the cost of the greenhouse, the training from Aquaponics University that teaches you to build and operate an aquaponics system, the Portable Farms® Kit and the additional materials you’ll need to build your system (excluding solar panel or grow lights).

The examples above show what happens with economies of scale as the systems become larger. The cost difference per person is amazing. The smaller unit costing US$4,800 divided by two people equaling US$2,400 per person. The larger unit is US$8,100 divided by 13 people or US$623 per person. That is one fourth (1/4) of the cost per person compared to the smaller unit.


greenhouse lean to14. Lean-to structures can be done at a savings of approximately 15 to 20% of the overall cost, but they are normally more work to build. They also have slightly lower operating expenses because they are easier to heat and cool.

Up to this point, you may not have spent a dime, only some time. Now you have to decide, does the project get done this season, or does it get postponed again.


Operating an Aquaponics System

Operating an Aquaponics System
by Colle and Phyllis Davis


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are two assumptions that will be made here regarding the operations for a backyard aquaponics system:

1) your installation is, or is similar to, a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System.

2) You have built a medium/media based (not a raft based) aquaponics system. Operations include the steps that are necessary for you to keep the fish and plants alive and healthy.

A backyard farm that feeds 8 people generally takes about ten to fifteen minutes per day to maintain. This includes feeding the fish, planting seedlings and harvesting. Operations are NOT time consuming but they are DAILY operations that cannot and should NOT be skipped.

When you’re dealing with living aquatic animals, they require daily care, attention and yes, even affection to remain healthy and grow to their full size. If your fish are ‘stressed’ for any reason, they won’t eat – – – – and if they don’t eat – – – – they don’t poop – – – – and if they don’t poop, your plants will not be healthy.  So, if you’re going to be gone for longer than a day or so, ask a friend or neighbor (that you trust) that will take care of your aquaponics system.

tilapia Oreochromis mossambicusOperational tasks include:

1. Maintaining adequate levels of water in the fish tank at all times
2. Feeding your fish a high protein fish feed each day (singing to your fish is optional but they do enjoy human contact and they do enjoy the sound of talking and singing)
3. Always wear disposable gloves when preforming tasks in the building
4. Keeping the pH balanced in the fish tank
5. Stocking the appropriate number of fish in the fish tank that is in balance with the area of the grow tray                                                                 6. 24/7 aeration provided for the fish at all times (bubbles)                             7. Carefully controlling the water temperature range that is properly maintained within a very narrow range in the water in the fish tank

backyard aquaponics system2

8. Monitoring the movement of adequate water flow throughout the system that is delivered to the plants at various times each day
9. Consistently planting seeds that have been planted in a starter medium and after a 1 or 2 weeks they are moved into the grow tray on the day the mature plants in the grow tray have been harvested (can be tricky and takes practice to plan ahead)
10. Monitoring the light inside the building and making sure that the plants have the proper amount of light each day (this may include supplemental lighting in winter or in cloudy climates)
11. Harvesting plants when the desired state of ripeness/maturity has been reached


Plants growing in a gravel medium in a Grow Tray in a Portable Farm.

Plants growing in a gravel medium in a Grow Tray in a Portable Farm.

12. Making sure that NO one is allowed inside the building that smokes or has dirt on their body, shoes or clothes
13. Performing routine maintenance on all mechanical or electrical components on schedule
14. Cleaning all surfaces in the building to keep the floors, surfaces and working areas clean and dust free
15. Periodic cleaning of the clarifier
16. Occasional rinsing off of the outside of the building if no rain has occurred in the last 60 days.
17. Carefully removing any dead or diseased plants as soon they are noticed.

A conscious fourteen year-old can operate an aquaponics system of up to 1,000 sq ft of grow space working about thirty minutes per day. A complete Operations Section is part of the AU Course and covers the specifics above in much more detail.




Build Your Aquaponics System Close to Your Kitchen

Build Your Aquaponics System Close to Your Kitchen
- by Colle and Phyllis Davis



Note the farm sitting in the back of our house in Southern California. We had two acres on our property but chose to install it close the house near the kitchen for care of the farm and for easy harvesting. This small 16'x33' farm was large enough to feed ten people FOREVER.

Note the farm sitting in the back of our house in Southern California. We had several acres on our property but we chose to install it close the house near the kitchen for care of the farm and for easy harvesting (near the kitchen). This small 16’x33′ farm was large enough to feed ten people FOREVER.


Build your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System as close to the kitchen in your house as possible for
easy care of the farm and close access for harvesting food to feed your family. 

  • backyard fortAvoid large trees (that may be bare in winter but bloom in summer and block sunlight) and shadows that are cast from your house or fences.
  • Choose a location that is placed (ideally) on the long axis, or long dimension, of your house and can be oriented so the ‘downwind’ end, which contains the exhaust fan(s) of the greenhouse, move greenhouse air away from your house.
  • Position your farm close to an available source of fresh water. This can be as simple as a garden hose or a waterline buried underground to keep it from freezing. There is very little evaporation inside the greenhouse because the water is not exposed to the air very much, but the plants transpire and literally pump water into the air to bring nutrient up to use. In hot weather, the plants in a grow tray of 100 sq. feet can ‘drink’ up to 10 gallons of water per day.


  • Electricity also needs to be available inside the structure. This can be as simple as running an extension cord from the house or garage to the greenhouse. We strongly suggest that it be either buried or run through conduit underground or at least 8 ft. or more above the ground to prevent accidents with cutting or running over the wire. The best solution is to run the wire inside conduit and place it underground. If you have a friend who is an electrician, have them put in the electrical system for you and include three outlets for the control center, air pumps, exhaust fan and circulating fan and lighting and then when you have a harvest, offer them fresh vegetables in exchange for their services.
The interior of the farm shown in picture (above).

The interior of the farm shown in picture (above).

To recap, the location for your Portable Farms® needs:

  • Six hours of sunlight
  • A water source
  • Electrical power
  • Easy access to the door out of your farm and into your kitchen.
  • You can also use a lean-to structure off the south wall of your house or garage or existing building. This gives you three huge advantages: 1) The space is warmed, 2) and protected by the existing building and 3)you do not have to go far to harvest your produce.
  • There is also an interesting side effect. The house will receive more heat from the greenhouse during the day time, no matter the time of year than it will use at night. This arrangement means in many cases the lean-to installation is carbon negative. Nice added bonus as a survival system.



Let’s Talk About Greenhouses

Let’s Talk About Greenhouses for Your Aquaponics System
– By Phyllis and Colle Davis 


greenhouse backyard

YES! With the proper structure housing your aquaponics system, you can grow food year round in ANY WEATHER - in very cold or very hot temperatures. Even if you don’t have ample sunlight for growing, you can add supplemental induction lighting and go ‘off grid’ with a 100 watt solar panel for a small backyard farm. Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are more ‘flexible’ for growing healthy food year round than you might imagine for many reasons . . .




It’s important to learn the advantages and limitations of each type of building so you can you utilize the space inside the structure for maximum yield and efficiency.

Here is where the specifications for the successful aquaponics system become more rigid: The technical term used by the inventors of Portable Farms is, “The greenhouse must be a ‘climatically adapted structure.”




Your choice of greenhouse must be capable of maintaining the interior temperature between 40° F and 104° F (4° to 40° C) so your plants WILL survive and in fact, they will even thrive.

Maintaining a temperature for maximum growth (between 75 and 80° F) in consistently cold weather is VERY expensive unless you have geothermal or similar heat available for nearly no cost.

Almost any protected interior space will maintain a higher temperature than the outside ambient temperature because the wind is not stripping away the heat. The trick to growing healthy plants in a greenhouse is not related as much to heating the interior space as much as it is for cooling the space in hot temperatures in warm climates.  

Remember, the fish tank water that is being circulated twice a day is 78 to 80 degrees F and relatively warm and there are literally tons of gravel in the grow trays contributing to a very large thermo mass that maintains temperatures very well. In some instances, in very cold climates, a supplemental heating system will need to be installed. This can be a simple a one or more electrical heaters placed on the floor and set to their lowest setting to insure the space never freezes.

Portable FarmsThe cooling of the interior to keep the plants happy is harder than most people realize. Inside a well-constructed greenhouse when the outside temperatures are in the 20’s (-3 C) the interior temperature will be around 40 (4 C). As the temperature approaches 100° F (38 C) the exhaust fan(s) inside the structure are removing the warm moist air from the space and drawing in ‘cooler air’ through screened intakes. When the temperature reaches 104 degrees F in the grow tray area, the plants shift from growing to simply maintaining turgor (keeping the leaves from wilting) to stay alive and they are pumping the maximum amount of water to cool the leaf surface through evaporative cooling.

greenhousepaintedpanels aquaponics


Here is where modern and ancient technology together, comes into play. The use of ‘swamp coolers’ or ‘wet-walls’ are used to reduce the temperature of the air coming into the structure through evaporative cooling. When water is spread across a porous material it increases the surface area exposed to the air. Drawing air across this thin film of evaporating water significantly reduces the temperate of the air because the heat energy is used to evaporate the water. A wet wall or swamp cooler can lower the air flow temperature up to 15° F  (6° C). That means incoming air at 110° F (42° C) can be reduced to a balmy 95°.



We do not recommend PVC pipe hoop houses (we’ve used them and can tell you all about the short falls), but if you insist on building a hoop house to start your project, paint the PVC pipe or it will ‘outgas’ and eat holes in your plastic cover. You can use cheap interior paint for this project because it’s only meant to seal the surface and it’s not for looks.
greenhouse lean to

To use a small commercially available greenhouse such as one from Tuff Greenhouses (really nice people and a great product) and placing it on a 4 ft. stem wall will satisfy the requirements in most locations. In really cold areas, you need to add four inches of insulation to the stem wall to keep the interior warmer.

Lean-to projecting from the south face of an existing building is the most effective design in cold climates. The greenhouse actually contributes to the heating of the house and very quickly becomes a focal point in the house. Using a lean-to off of a garage or unheated spaces is also very efficient because the entire north side came be HEAVILY insulated to reduce the need for supplemental heating. Tip here: Paint any insulated surfaces a white or light color to reflect the light around inside the structure. Make sure you have enough area for an aisle, preferable on both sides of the grow tray.


Feed your Family with Aquaponics

Feed your Family with a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System 
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

farm 8 18 2012How many people do you want to feed? Let’s start with that  . . . 

In a highly effective system with gravel as the medium base, a grow tray space of 25 to 30 sq. ft. will feed one adult their table vegetables year round – FOREVER.

Use the number of people you want to feed times (x) the 25 sq. ft. required for each person and the resulting figure will be the size of grow tray space you will need. That’s easy.

The formula for number of people times the 25 sq. ft. required to feed them can be applied no matter what the number of people you want to feed. A commercial installation with 10,000 sq. feet of enclosed space provides 6,000 sq. ft. of grow space and will feed 240 people.

This 16' x 33' greenhouse contains 3 modules of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems and feeds 10 people FOREVER.

This 16′ x 33′ greenhouse contains 3 modules of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems and feeds 10 people FOREVER.

WHERE will you install your aquaponics system?

We recommend a location with six hours of direct sunlight available. Or, you can install a small aquaponics system in a garage, basement or spare room but you must use grow lights to grow the food. Sunlight is preferable if possible because it’s free and grow lights require electrical power. However, if you install your aquaponics system to receive sunlight, you must enclose it in a greenhouse to protect it from weather, insects, etc.

What type of building would you like to select to surround your aquaponics system?

You can build your own greenhouse for about $25 per sq ft or you can buy a fully made greenhouse for slightly more than that.

What kind of fish will you use in your aquaponics system?

Check with your State Authorities with the Fish and Wildlife Department and find out if tilapia are legal in your state. Tilapia are the fish of preference in ALL aquaponics systems in the Northern Hemisphere. They are a fresh water/warm water fish and very healthy.


What is the total cost for my backyard aquaponics system?

A generous number we recommend is $35 per sq ft. which includes the cost of the greenhouse, the training from Aquaponics University that teaches you to build and operate an aquaponics system, the Portable Farms® Kit and the additional materials to build your system (excluding grow lights).

The Cost to Build a Backyard ‘Home’ Aquaponics System

The Cost to Build a Backyard ‘Home’ Aquaponics System
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

Here is the answer to the most requested question we receive regarding building a backyard home aquaponics, ‘What’s will my installation cost me?”

The larger the aquaponics system you build, the better the investment it is because you’re growing more food and saving on food costs at your local market. It’s a true but sad fact that a very small backyard aquaponics system is not the best ‘financial investment,’ but you WILL have a year round supply of the freshest, best tasting and most nutritious food you can buy.

farm 8 18 2012Please note: IT’S THE GREENHOUSE THAT IS EXPENSIVE and NOT the aquaponics technology or building materials. According to the Craftsman National Building Cost Estimator program, the pricing on a greenhouse measuring 12′ x 12′ would be around $3587, or $25 per square foot. If you want to find someone to give you a quote in your area in the US: CLICK HERE. By adding in all the other components for building a Portable Farms Aquaponics System (training – with includes your Portable Farms Kit and other materials) the cost is about $35 per square foot.





#1 Bestseller – Do-It-Yourself greenhouse plans for your Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems or any other project you have. There is a 60-day money-back guarantee on the greenhouse plans.    Click Here!





If you want to purchase a greenhouse, there are many qualified resources available including:

Important information for installing your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System inside a greenhouse:

  • Make sure your new PFAS building has a minimum of 10 feet between the top surface of the Gravel in the GTT to the lowest point in the roof if you are enclosing more than 1,000 sq ft (100m2) of space. This is because the gravel gets HOT and the building needs a larger amount of air in the space to remove the heat before it can hurt the plants.
  • Less than 10 feet of clearance above the grow tray means the air cannot circulate properly to strip the heat out of the surface of the gravel. Even if you run the CAD Pump longer periods during the hot part of the day it will not be enough to pull the temperature down to a reasonable level.
  • Be sure to install shade cloth to cover the entire growing area so the small plants are protected and then the larger plants can receive full sunlight when they are large enough to cover most of the gravel.


greenhouse backyardThe numbers quoted below INCLUDE the cost of the Portable Farms® Aquaponics System Course© and upon satisfactory completion of the course, you’ll receive one Portable Farms® Kit as part of the Course©, so you can build your own Portable Farms® Aquaponics System. This price for the Course© includes the entire assembly, operations and maintenance course as an online correspondence course, PLUS, it INCLUDES one Portable Farms® technology kit – all for the price of $2,500. Offer good only in the US and certain other countries.



– A stand-alone climatically adapted structure (greenhouse) of 10’ x 16’ containing one Grow Tray 5’ wide and 12’ long will require an investment of approximately US$4,800. This will provide a grow tray space of 60 sq. ft. or enough to feed two adults year round.

  • - A stand-alone climatically adapted structure (greenhouse) of 18’ x 32’ containing two Grow Trays of 6’ x 28’ will require an investment of approximately US$8,100. This size will provide a grow space of 336 sq. ft. and feed 13 people year round.
  • In the prices quoted above, we have not included the following:

-          The variable costs for the wide range of prices for the structure (greenhouse) for aesthetic landscaping purposes (example, grand gothic greenhouses) or for ‘extreme climates’ of sun, heat and cold

-          The addition of grow lights for locations with limited sunlight and for supplemental lights during winter months (November to March) for maximum production of blooming plants (tomatoes, etc.)

-          The cost of fans, wet walls or ventilation for the greenhouse structure which will vary according to your climatic conditions and design of structure.

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems holding 8 heads of kale just harvested from a Portable Farm. The average height of these kale is 47". Monster kale!

Phyllis Davis, Co-Inventor of Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems holding 8 heads of kale just harvested from a Portable Farm. The average height of these kale is 47″. Monster kale!

The examples (above) show what happens with economies of scale as the systems become larger. The cost difference per person is amazing. The smaller unit costing US$4,800 divided by two people equaling US$2,400 per person. The larger unit is US$8,100 divided by 13 people or US$623 per person. That is one fourth (1/4) of the cost per person compared to the smaller unit.

After initial building costs, there are ongoing costs involved for fish, fish food, seeds, electricity and water but they are generally minimal for backyard home aquaponics systems.

If you’re ready to increase your level of self-sufficiency or you’re interested in a family project that involves your entire family, then consider building a Portable Farms® Aquaponics System in your backyard.

Would you like to learn more about aquaponics? Learn from us . . . 

Healthy Recipe for Thanksgiving #1

Healthy Recipe for Thanksgiving #1 – Roasted Vegetables

- by Colle and Phyllis Davis and damndelicious.net

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Yes, there are alternatives to serving an over-carbohydrated Thanksgiving meal that make you feel sick after indulging in potatoes, sugar and starch.

Here are some of the suggestions other chefs have provided that we’re trying this year ourselves. And, as you can imagine, we’ll provide as many of the freshly harvested vegetables as possible from our own Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems. As you know, our farms don’t grow ‘root vegetables’ such as onions, leeks, potatoes, carrots, etc., but they are all readily available at our local farmer’s market where we shop on Saturday mornings (after yoga) :).

While you consider your options for a healthy (even vegan) Thanksgiving meal, take advantage of the fall bounty from locally grown food within 100 miles of your home and support your local farmers by buying from them. Again, farmer’s markets are an ideal time and place to talk to local farmers who are selling their food and find out what other foods they raise so you can plan to buy from them instead of buying foods from major supermarket chains because you may not know where that food was raised, how it was raised and how far it was shipped before you purchased it.

Prep Time – 5 minutes
Cook Time – 15 minutes
Total Time – 20 minutes
Yield – 4 servings
The easiest, simplest, and BEST way to roast vegetables – perfectly tender and packed with so much flavor!

roasted vegesINGREDIENTS

2 cup broccoli florets
2 cups cremini mushrooms
2 cups chopped butternut squash
1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 yellow squash, sliced and quartered
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
Place broccoli florets, mushrooms, butternut squash, zucchini, squash, bell pepper and onion in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.*
Serve immediately.

*Baking time may need to be adjusted depending on the thickness of the vegetables.

New Energy-Saving Devices for Aquaponics in Cold Climates

New Energy-Saving Devices for Aquaponics in Cold Climates
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

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We receive many inquiries from people who live in very COLD climates who ask us, “Does aquaponics work in cold climates?”

And our answer is always, “YES IT DOES! In fact, it’s actually easier to heat a greenhouse than it is to cool a greenhouse!”

The energy cost of some aquaponics systems is so low it is almost a non issue. Many people chose to incorporate solar or other alternative power to operate their systems with great success. There are some new(er) technologies that may be helpful in planning an aquaponics installation or even retrofitting an existing installation.


greenhouse lean toThe first suggestion is the use of the outer wall of an occupied house as part of the (greenhouse) structure. Using the wall of a house as the north wall of the greenhouse makes perfect sense to protect the interior of a greenhouse structure from cold winds, and even if there is some electricity used to run the aquaponics system, on an annual basis, the greenhouse will have a CARBON NEGATIVE impact. Now really, how cool is that?

The insulated wall of a house means that the wall is never cold and much less heat is needed to keep the greenhouse above freezing. The second effect is having a door into the greenhouse in that wall so the greenhouse is entered from the house instead of entering the greenhouse directly from the outside. Two benefits here: The warm air from the house can enter the greenhouse and the cooler air can be warmed by the house’s heating system. But, “WAIT,” you say, “. . .  that will cost money to heat.” Yes and when the sun comes out, heat moves back into the house and the runs the other way; heat from the greenhouse comes pouring into the house. Think GIANT solar heater.
sunsunglassesOn clear sunny days, even in very cold weather, the heat gain in a greenhouse is very impressive. Even with outside temperatures ten degrees below freezing, the interior of a building-mounted greenhouse can very quickly raise into the comfortable-to-warm range. Now the greenhouse is reducing the heat load on the house itself and is now actually contributing to lowering the heating costs. The small amount of heat needed to keep the greenhouse above 40° F (4° C) is very quickly paid back on sunny days no matter what the temperature outside happens to reach.

Insulation can be used on the non heat/light gathering areas. The entire north side of the greenhouse can be insulated with 4 to 8” of insulation. Painting the interior of the insulated side a bright white reaps the advantages of the insulation and the bright white bouncing the light around. The east and west walls can be insulated up to the 3 or 4’ level with no loss of effectiveness in the sun capture.

A stem wall is the wall surrounding a greenhouse (image below)

portable-farms-gravel-mediumStem walls around the side of the greenhouse structure can be insulated or in warmer climates, can simply be concrete block to raise the overall height of the greenhouse to enclose more volume of air making the system more effective and easier to control.

Roof vents instead of exhaust fans are also effective. Roof vents are the modern trend in greenhouse design and with these vents and their air intake vents screened, the insect problems are vastly reduced to almost nil. The reductions in energy costs are amazing. The small motors that control the vent mechanisms require a very small amount of electricity and are only ‘on’ for a few minutes each day.

Solar heating for the fish tanks can also be done relatively inexpensively and with few, if any, electrical requirements, these systems quickly pay for themselves.

Solar panels to provide the electrical needs of the installation have come down dramatically in price over the last decade and with the reduced needs of the installation, the cost of going solar has become both viable and a cost savings.

Monitoring systems are still a bit expensive, but the need to monitor any aspect of the installation may be reduced to the point of only needing catastrophic failure notification.

There are other small tweaks that can be incorporated into any aquaponics greenhouse to reduce the energy requirements and each time these requirements are lowered, the ROI becomes better and better. Let the imagination run wild or contact PFAS LLC for more information on improving that current or dream aquaponics greenhouse.



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