Alberta Aquaponics

We Will Grow On You!

Alberta Aquaponics - We Will Grow On You!

Return Of Ramblings And Reasons

It has been just about a year since I last posted on the website.

I would like to say I am sorry for the absence, but that would be a lie. In fact, I think I needed to take that break and distance myself for a while, gather some head space and resolve some things out. 

Last year had a bunch of things happen on the aquaponic related side that left me somewhat gutted and had me questioning why I was doing anything.

This may sound a bit bemoaning, but I think after a year of being silent on the website I owe at least some kind of explanation. 

We attempted to grow Alberta Aqauaponics and possibly take a different tact that would create a sustaining income rather than funding everything out of pocket.

We wanted to keep the Ubuntu process and mentality as we went along and attempted to bring some others in to work together with us, sadly, we discovered there are some people out there that let greed and ego bleed into good intentions and for some reason believe the only means of success is the failure of someone else.

We lost a bit on the attempt and decided to go back to where we were prior, which was a bit disheartening, but a learning lesson.

The frustration we felt was then compounded shortly there after when YouTube killed all of our aquaponic videos. The history of everything we had done over the years, good and bad and the lessons learned being lost left me gutted. (We never did get an answer as to why it happened and could not get them restored.)

During this we were doing the greenhouse rebuild where I had some failures on the physical side where I let myself down with not being able to do the tasks that needed to be done. The inability to take on the project myself, lack of progress and looming winter deadlines took their toll.

My frustration in myself was definitely having an impact on both Donna and I, making the build even harder. What should have been a fun project and bonding for the two of us more often than not concluded with me being angry at myself, being in pain and sadly unfairly taking it out on Donna (Sorry for being a cranky jerk face <I can’t use the words I should use on here> I appreciate everything you have done in my life and cant begin to show you how much.).  

In short, our attempts to make Alberta Aquaponics bigger and better put me in a head space that I did not want to be in, so as a result, I just backed away from the website, the meets and even talking about what we were doing. 

That brings me to now.

A year out, and I am looking back at the break and believing it was a good thing. I have had some time to digest what happened, rethink where I want to go with Alberta Aquaponics and maybe start looking at the greenhouse as being my refuge again rather than my chore and failing.

So here is what I have decided.

I still have no means of making Alberta Aquaponics financially sustainable, so I am going to limit the investment in attempting to make it so.  I am going to do stuff that makes me happy and get rid of all the crap that is not.

That means a bit of a change up.

I have always said that aquaponics is but one piece of a very much larger of puzzle picture for overall sustainability, so as of today, Alberta Aquaponics may be a bit misleading for a name. I have taken flack on being off topic of aquaponics in past from a few people, so if you are only about aquaponics, you may want to just end viewing the site and Facebook group now.

You will be seeing a lot more of things like Solar PV energy creation, Solar cooking, electric vehicle adoption going along with aquaponics, urban farming and about 100 other things that I like.

Over this past year, I have still been involved in doing other things. I have created a Facebook group called the Alberta Canada Solar Cookers for solar cooking adoption and have started up an Electric Vehicle group with a website of www.evaab.ca along with a Facebook group for electric vehicle adoption. By all means, please come get involved in the other ventures.

You will be seeing a lot more blending from all of the sites and groups on the Alberta Aquaponics website and Facebook group from now on.

The site will be active again, just maybe in a different direction than what it has been.

I hope that you will continue to hang out with me and assist in the new tact, and thank you for still being here to read any of this after a year of assessment.

  

 

By The Twitching Of My Thumbs Something Wicking This Way Comes…

The last couple of weeks have been crazy busy with lots going on and still more coming up.

The long weekend had a visit from some very good friends from Fort McMurray. They came down to find out more about Aquaponics and see what they can implement up North. I drove them crazy with a ton of information and dragged them off to the Face to Face Meetup.

At the end of it, they went back with the intent of starting up an insulated shed/greenhouse as the first steps and plans on building up an IBC tote system shortly.

I cant wait to see the development as they go!

While they were here we also did some stuff in our own yard.

We managed to make some headway on our edible front yard. The Verge Permaculture Course we took with Rob Avis is again kicking into high gear at our house and we have created up our first wicking bed for the front of the house. We now have a 16′ x 4′ x 3′ deep wicking bed frame in place and have hopes that we will have a second one in place and both up and running shortly.

For the implementation we had to trench things out, remove some dead trees, prune pines, get the lumber and do the build. Not a short stack of of work with that short stack of a list.

We still have a bunch of work to do on it, but it is coming along! I still have a few trips to the dump to make to clean up the mess that I plan on doing today after I get this post up.

Tomorrow is the Calgary Eats! A taste of our local food system.

yyceats_flyer 2 We will be one of the presenters at this event and it should be awesome!

With this event you will be able to tour the Calgary regional food system. See what’s going on in different food sectors around the city and how you can take action to work towards building a sustainable, accessible and resilient food system!

If you are into food safety, food security or just good food and community, this is an event for you to check out!

You will find information on:

  • Production
  • Processing and Distribution
  • Access/Consumption
  • Waste Recovery
  • Community and Education

This unique event aims to engage Calgarians interested in building a sustainable local food system. A sustainable and resilient food system means that we recognize the connections between economic vibrancy, environmental sustainability and community health from the production of food through to waste recovery.
Get your tickets and come see us at the event!

As for now, here is the video update. I will attempt to have another update for next week and get more completed up on our projects this weekend!

Samuel Livingston I presume?

This was an awesome weekend.

We finally got some stuff completed that we had been attempting to get start on a few weeks back when the weather didn’t want to cooperate.

To start with we completed the course with Rob Avis’ Verge permaculture course and finalized our layout for what we want to develop and create for this year in our yard.  We took the two evening course and I have to tell you that it was incredibly good!

Rob AvisFor those of you who have never taken a permaculture course, I suggest that you run and not walk to sign up and take it! Very informative and  an awesome addition to your tool belt of growing knowledge!

Rob has put us on the PDC tour for his certificate course as a stop off to learn about aquaponics and aquaculture. We will also be among the teachers for his PDC course. I can’t tell you how stoked I am about it and how much I am looking forward to being a part of it all! Check out Robs Courses and the Verge Permaculture website and sign up for what is going to be an amazing course and one heck of a load of great information!

After the course we ended up being even more motivated to make things happen around our house (if that is possible). We drew out our yard, greenhouse, garage and even our basement for the redesign and planting charts plans. From there we created a list of everything we wanted to plant up and put them on a spreadsheet. We double checked our seed stash and found that we had pretty much everything (other than a couple of fruit trees, some hascaps, blueberries and Jerusalem Artichokes) to make a go of what we want to have planted this year.

We then planted 144 plants for the gardens for this year. This is only a small number of what I expect will top out at just over 250 or so when we have everything all set up an our new beds in place. You have no idea how hyped I am about this!

The greenhouse now has some plants moved out into it from the basement grow beds inside and is starting to take on the green and flowery look I have been missing. A couple of the plants were not overjoyed at the move but are starting to pick up again since the transition. With luck they will all make it and be happy and blooming again shortly.

The growbeds through out the place are still a little on the shy side, but that will change once the sprouts are ready to drop into place! (more in the upcoming video update)

This weekend also had us doing an awesome tour of the Bow Habitat Station (or if you are old like me, the Samuel Livingston Fish Hatchery) here in Calgary.

Donna and I got a private showing of the facility where we got to see how a government facility is set up and run. It is a rather larger and way cooler setup than my little back yard system, but I just don’t have the public funding to make that kind of thing happen here. (Although I am willing to take donations 🙂 )

If you have never been to the fish hatchery, I strongly suggest going for the visit! It is simply amazing and well worth your time for the tour! There is a lot to learn for everyone who attends from little kids through to adults and is well more than what you would expect it to be!

Video Update!

A huge thank you to those that made the trip possible and to Rob Avis for the efforts on his Permaculture Course! You folks all rock!

Aquaponic Updates and Other Stuff For A Busy Week.

The weather has not changed up as I had hope to allow me to get things going outside, so as a result I am still chomping at the bit.

This has diverted my efforts into other things, so here are some strange non-aquaponic related updates.

The first one I have to talk about is that we have discovered Kefir.

Bottles of Kefir

Kefir Brewing

Kefir is actually Tibicos.

Tibicos are a culture of bacteria and yeasts that produce a probiotic that is very healthy when consumed.

Tibicos is also known as tibi, water kefir grains, sugar kefir grains, Japanese water crystals and California bees, and in older literature as bébées, African bees, ale nuts, Australian bees, balm of Gilead, beer seeds, beer plant, bees, ginger bees, Japanese beer seeds and vinegar bees,

We have tried both water kefir and milk kefir over the past while and are currently cultivating water kefir.

I have been playing with a bunch of different recipes for water kefir ranging from Vanilla (which actually tastes cream soda-ish) through to root beer, black berry, grape (white and purple) and combined fruit flavors. I now have several that are in different stages of aging and carbonating and am now looking to attempt some Kefir beer making.

For a lot of people this is not a lot of new information, but for me, it was something totally out of the norm that I had never heard of.

I have made wine, beer and mead in the past and have turned into a brew junkie as a result. I got very used to creating a batch and having to wait for a month to a year or more to taste the goodness or ending up having 5 gallons of grossness to deal with.

This high side to the kefir is that a batch can be completed in as little as 3 days and you can make small batches of 500 ml. and have a very low alcohol content (other than the beers). This opens up the ability to try a number of things over the course of a week to see what you like and what the best fit is.

So here is a Kefir Video:

As for the garden updates I am in the midst of moving some stuff around and replanting. So I everything is a hellish mess in the basement. that is not going to be cleaned up in the next few days. Excuse the short video and the mess. Spring is coming and they will get better I assure you.

For the last year I have been holding on to mushroom cultures and waiting. It seems that the wait is now somewhat over because I now have Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms starting up in a bin. I am far from an expert in rearing mushrooms, but giving it a go none the less.

I still have several jars of Grey Dove Oyster Mushrooms that I have hopes on getting started up here in the spring.

Expect that this is one of many updates intertwined with the other updates on the non-aquaponics side in the future.

As for the future, this weekend is going to be the start of a whirlwind couple of weeks. Over and above the normal day to day keeping me busy there are also some awesome events coming up!

Tomorrow is the Sustainability for Breakfast put on by REAP. This is a “must go to event” if you are interested in sustainability initiatives in Calgary and area. The networking and presentations are awesome and well worth your time to attend. Stephanie Jackman of REAP has established a fantastic group of people and businesses who are making a huge difference in the world around us and deserves a pat on the back and acknowledgement.

REAP puts on these events the last Friday of every month. If you can attend the events, I strongly suggest it! Sign up, pay up and show up. (Remember that seating is limited in these events so if you dont sign up and pay ($7.00 includes breakfast) there fast, you may not get there at all.) For you Locals, Scott Weir from Growing Gardeners is going to be presenting at this one, so come on out and cheer him on!

Saturday, we have the “Introduction to Aquaponics” course at the University of Calgary.

This course is bound to be a great time and a lot of good information. I am looking forward to it and meeting a bunch of new people looking to take the first steps into aquaponics as well as working with Scott Weir with Growing Gardeners in getting aquaponics more widely understood and mainstream.

The class is just about full but if you act fast you may be able to get in on the course before cut off.

I am off to an organic symposium in Strathmore for Monday that is bound to have me coming back with a bunch of cool information and contacts that I will be sharing with the world. Although Aquaponics is not able to be certified as organic, I am still wanting to attend to see what is going on and who the players are on that side of the world.

Wednesday is the Farmers Market at Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Centre and is being followed up with a presentation on “Seed Saving and GMOs”. The farmers market is well worth checking out and the presentations after are amazing. Hillhurst Sunny side knock it out of the park for a community centre with these kinds of events.

I will see if I can grab some footage or pictures of these events to tie into another update.

I hope that I see you folks at the cool events coming up!

Until next week, keep growing

Alberta Aquaponics, ESRD and Alberta Agriculture Aquaculture License Meeting.

important noticeAlberta Aquaponics, ESRD and Alberta Agriculture Aquaculture License Meeting.

As a result of questions and concerns regarding the licensing of aquaponics and the requirement for the Class B Aquaculture License, Alberta Aquaponics is putting on a  meeting with Jim Wagner from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (Fish and Wild Life) and Jeff Presley from Agriculture and Rural Development (Alberta Agriculture) on January 25, 2014.

The hopes of this meeting are to clarify the license questions and resolve out the problems that people are having with them.The hope is that this will allow our voices to be heard in the implementation of changes to the licensing situation and to provide a better understanding of the policy in the future.

We are also inviting City Council, the Mayor of Calgary (Naheed Nenshi), and the local MLA (Manmeet Bhullard) to see if they can assist in getting the resolutions going with the licensing issues.

If you have an interest in Aquaponics, aquaculture, food security and food safety, we urge you to come and make your voice heard.

If you would like to participate, please register (for free) so that we are able to ensure that we have enough seating for this event.

This is a free event however donations to cover the cost of this event are welcome!

Please spread this event to everyone in Alberta!

Twas Two Nights Before Christmas…

The season is upon us and what seemed like plenty of time to spare has dwindled into the rush to get everything ready. As a result, things have been a little haphazard in getting completed around here. I am ok with that however. It has been nice to spend some extra time with family and friends and as I have been advised, the work will still be there for me tomorrow or next week.

With that said, I still plan on getting a lot more done up around here soon, so be ready for a lot more updates and information coming for next year!

The final video update for the year is a bit of a mash together of updates and replies to folks from questions and comments I have received for the past few weeks.

So with a short post and a long video, I am off to wrap the final gifts and to get ready for the days to come!

I wish all of you a Happy, Safe and Joyous Christmas filled with Love, Laughter and Cheer!

Cold Licensing Updates With Luck!

This last week has been a whirlwind of things to do, but I am happy to say that it has been productive!

To start with we have had a situation come up that again questions the license issues for Aquaponics and Aquaculture in Alberta. As a result of the questions are in the process of setting up a meeting with Jim Wagner from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (Fish and Wild Life) and Jeff Presley from Agriculture and Rural Development (Alberta Agriculture) on January 25, 2014.

The hopes of this meeting are to clarify the license questions and resolve out the problems that people are having with them. I also hope that this will allow our voices to be heard in the implementation of changes to the licensing situation to provide a better understanding and policy int he future.

I am also inviting City Council, the Mayor of Calgary (Naheed Nenshi), and the local MLA (Manmeet Bhullard) to see if they can assist in getting the resolutions going with the licensing issues.

As it sits now, the legal side of the license has holes big enough to drive a truck through them leaving them open to a wide range of interpretation, miscommunication and inevitably frustration on both sides of the issues. These laws need to be defined and laid out in a better manner for everyone involved.

We cannot make change without your support, so I invite you all to come to this important meeting. If you are at all interested in aquaponics or aquaculture, this meeting is paramount to your future, so please take this seriously and come show your support and get your questions answered.

I am still in the process of nailing down the location (tis the season for making bookings hard to do) but I will do an update and post it in the events calendar as soon as it is established.

This last week has also been one of serious weather. We have had a cold snap that has seen temperatures dropping down to the -40 range and snow that has had us digging out every pathway around our house a couple of times a day.

This weather has had its impact on the greenhouse for sure and has all but got us shut down. We still have two growbeds going at this point in the greenhouse, but one system was forced to be shut down completely.

Being Friday the 13th, I am also wishing everyone some good luck and happy gardening!

As We Forgive Those And Move Forward

I took an update video of the garden to show the devastation and our new starting point.

I am still a little bummed out by this, but moving forward.

On the moving side, we started up our aeroponic garden in the basement again. This version is starting out with Bell Peppers, Cucumber, Basil, Thyme and Rosemary.

Aeroponics 2013 - 2014

Day one of the aeroponics garden

We are only doing one bin so far, but that may change up here over the next couple of weeks.

Over the next couple of weeks, we have some more plans!

As I am sure everyone has heard, we are still attempting to get the Alberta Aquaponics Sustainable Communities Prince of Peace project up and running.

Our attempt to get funding for this project through the Peavey Mart Agricultural Grant has fallen through.

Alberta Aquaponics thanks both Peavey Mart and Alberta Agriculture for the opportunity of being a part of the competition for the grant.

Although we did not win the grant, we are very happy to have been giving the chance to be a part of the grant application process and the learning experience it provided us. We are also very proud to have had our idea reviewed along side of the other fantastic ideas submitted and the feedback we received as a result. The entire experience was very positive and reassured us that even though we did not win, we are on the correct path of making great things happen!

We have yet to hear who has won the grant at this point, but we are sure that the idea will be very worthy and we congratulate them on the win.

We are not giving up however, and we are looking for your support in a number of ways in making this a success!

If you are a musician or vocalist, we are looking for people to come help us put together a little music video involving a messed up version of Yellow Submarine. We are looking for all age groups and abilities in an attempt to show a full cross culture of the community.

Come join in for some community involvement, laughs and a little sing along.

If you are interested, jump into the forums and lets set up some times and dates to make it happen!

Concentrating On One Solar Update

Fast update for the solar concentrator build.

I managed to get the focal point set and the beginning of the plumbing put together for the unit.

I can attest that it is working and bloody hot!
A moment of not thinking and I grabbed the copper and got a good burn on my hand as a result.

Again, I cannot stress enough, THESE ARE NOT TOYS AND CAN CAUSE SERIOUS HARM! BE CAREFUL!

The build is taking a little longer than I had hoped, mostly because as much as I solder electronics, soldering copper seems to be a completely different skill set of which I suck. I have a whole new respect for plumbers and gas fitters now. They make this look easy.

Again, let me know what you think of the build and the project in the forums.

Updates Out Of The Cold!

This week has been one of many undertakings and events!

First off we have had our first snow fall of the year and temperatures that have dipped to below -15c.

The news of the oncoming snow and cold had us scrambling to get the greenhouse reskinned and bubble wrap installed before it came. It took us all day and a good part of the night to make it happen, but we managed to get the insulation and barriers up before the white stuff got us.

We also managed to start work on the growbeds to get them set up for the winter crops. After taking out a bunch of the tomato plants, the squash, strawberries and herbs, and doing a final harvest of the fruits they offered, we got to work on prepping the beds and cleaning them up.

We also announced our Alberta Aquaponics Community Association this week with the intent of giving back to the community and making a difference.

We could not make a difference without having a project to work on, so we also announced our intent on the Alberta Aquaponics Sustainable Communities Initiative in the creation of a greenhouse and aquaponic garden at Prince Of Peace.

This project can not happen without funding, so we have taken it upon ourselves to attempt to make the funding side happen by going after the Aviva Community Fund.

None of this can happen without your support. The Aviva Community Fund is based on votes from the public to get our project into the semifinals and then finals to make happen. As a result, we need you to follow the link and log in to the Aviva site and vote for us every day. The more votes we get, the more likely it is that our initiative will be made real!

Also feel free to post comments and questions on the Aviva site about the project. What Aviva is looking for is true support, so please show them that you believe we can do it!