Alberta Aquaponics needs a new Greenhouse!
Donna and I have been struggling with the greenhouse this year. We have problems with our grow bed tables starting to warp from the weight and humidity, Issues with the plastic poly around the greenhouse, limitations on our growing area and being able to access produce and problems with heating and cooling the greenhouse year round.
We would like to change things up.
Currently we have a used single car garage frame that we have used for our greenhouse. Its dimensions are 21′ x 11′ by 9′ tall. Surrounding our greenhouse, we are using nothing more than 7mil poly and bubble wrap for the winter months and just the 7 mil poly in the summer.
Greenhouse When it was first built
Although we have been able to grow through out the winter in our greenhouse, it has been at a cost due to the inefficiencies the greenhouse has. The solar concentrators have helped, but also need to be updated and made better to resolve the issues of the heating without the breakdowns that we have had from the solar tracker losing the sun from time to time.
The in floor heating from the solar concentrators is limited and needs to be extended under the grow beds, and more room in the greenhouse is required for both the water battery for radiant heat and the rabbits for over wintering. We would also like to move the worm farm inside the greenhouse to act as another heat source.
This summer we were hit with a hail storm that devastated our plant production due to the need of us having to remove the end walls of the greenhouse to allow for air flow. The hail came in both sides of the greenhouse and ripped the plants apart. The cold water was then collected in the grow bed and funneled into the fish tanks where we ended up with some pretty harsh losses.
The tables and grow bed supports we have in play are also in need of some much needed repairs. The tables, although reinforced and made as heavy as we could make them with wood, are starting to warp from the humidity and weight on them and are also in need to replacement.
Grow bed table needs to be replaced
We also need to re-insulate and cover the greenhouse this fall. The hail managed to put some divots into the greenhouse and caused a couple of small punctures that need to be resolved before winter comes. (We have them covered with duct tape at the moment to get us through until replacement.)
As you can see, this is turning into a laundry list of problems that we would like to see resolved.
We have been thinking about the issues for the last few weeks and have come up with a plan.
We would like to rebuild and expand the greenhouse to be 24′ long, 16′ wide and 8′ tall. We believe that this will increase our growing capacity by 60%, make the greenhouse more efficient for temperature control, offer up a better education and training facility and be a safer long term structure over all.
Lets start at the bottom and work up.
We would like to put in a better layout of the in floor heating for the solar concentrators, making sure that they go to the outside edges of the greenhouse. This will better stave off the cold int eh winter and make growing a lot easier with fewer losses.
Once the in floor heating is installed we would like to put sidewalk blocks over the entire floor of the greenhouse to level it off and stop the trip hazards that we have in there now. This would also act as our base for the new building structure.
We would like to do the main walls of the rebuild using pallet racking.
Our Proposed Construction Material
The pallet racking would provide a very stable, safe and secure structure frame. The grow beds would be able to sit directly on the shelves that are structurally made to hold them and sized for an IBC tote. The room for extra shelving would allow for more grow space, storage and potential passive heating systems to be incorporated.
Attached to the pallet racking on the outside, we would like to build super insulated panels from the ground level to the 4′ mark all around the greenhouse. The insulated panels would help in both maintaining the heat and cooling within the greenhouse as well as protecting the greenhouse long term from the elements.
Super Insulated Panel
On the upper sides and roof of the greenhouse we would like to install multi walled poly-carbonate panels so that we have a better insulation value for the winter and the ability to create automated venting windows for the summer months.
Going along with the build, we would also like to incorporate a few more items for the education side.
Along with the ebb flow growbeds and dutch buckets that we already run, we are planning to add in a deep water culture system, wicking aquaponic beds and create a spring starter area for starter plants.
We would also like to get a better water capture system in play for collecting the water from the greenhouse, and putting it in play for both the tank top ups and water batteries.
All of this plan sounds simple enough until we get into the costs of implementation. Materials on this project are over $10,000.00.
Our solar install this year has left us tapped for extra finances to make everything happen on our own. Although we have a small budget to do some of the work, we are unable to make a real change that would help long term on our own.
This is where we would like to ask for your help!
We are looking for donations to the project.
We have set a goal of $5,000.00 for the new greenhouse build to get all the materials so that we can begin construction before winter hits. We are trying to make this easy for people to donate. Simply click on the donation button at the right side of the Alberta Aquaponics website, put in the amount you want to contribute!
To quote a show I often quote, “winter is coming”.
I know, we are being hopeful, in trying to make this happen fast, but we need to get the rebuild in play or start doing band-aid fixes to get us through the winter months. We would prefer to do it right the first time and have a long term solution and investment.
We do not expect people to donate without getting anything back, so if we are successful in achieving our goal, we are going to give the folks that donate $25.00 or more an invite for a tour of the new greenhouse, a bunny BBQ and an afternoon of mingling with other supporters for spring of 2016! We will also create a Donators Webpage celebrating everyone who donated and help Alberta Aquaponics and the greenhouse build!
Please help us make the greenhouse a better facility and help Alberta Aquaponics grow by supporting and donating to our cause!
Thank you for being a part of our community and for thinking about helping us go farther!