Alberta Aquaponics

We Will Grow On You!

Alberta Aquaponics - We Will Grow On You!

So That Year Was A Wasn’t That Was In A Big Way!

Alright, I admit it, this year has been a crap load of work and it took all year to get to where we are..

But where are we?

Well, lets go over some stuff.

The front yard has been completely redone. Grass out, Trees out, Rock in, Fruit Trees in and a new growbed ready for next years creation. Add to that the solar powered water capture aeration and watering system to round things off.

Yes, that took some time, effort and money. It also stalled us out on the back yard a little bit.

But now the back yard.

We have the new greenhouse up and wrapped.

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For this year we are going to stick with the plastic wrap and look at the insulated panels and 3 ply poly-carbonate for the walls and roof for next year.

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The new build, although only 30 inches larger on two sides offers up an incredible 4 times the growing space over the last greenhouse.

It did not take long to start putting in grow beds and start sorting out where everything is going to go for the next grow season.

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We still need to do some rebuilding on the fish tank covers and redo a bunch of plumbing as well as create a couple of swirl filters, but everything is starting to come together in a big way.

For the immediate projects, I still have the door to complete (I ran out of material to complete the build) but I have hopes that will be done by tomorrow afternoon. At that point I will call the greenhouse build completed until spring when it will be the green house implementation that will take over!

Be prepared that will be a show and a half if I have anything to say about it!

So on to other new stuff.

Not aquaponics, but again lifestyle related, we have gotten ourselves a new vehicle. This is not just any vehicle however, we purchased an Electric Vehicle in the form of a 2016 Nissan Leaf SL.

2016 Nissan Leaf
The 170 KM range per charge means that Donna can go back and forth to work all week on a single charge and 100% emission free.

This car combined with the solar we have on the garage means we can run the vehicle for virtually nothing but even if we had no solar on the roof of the garage, the vehicle would cost us around $1.34 per 100 KM including tire wear.

We have said goodbye to gas stations, green house gas pollution, noise pollution (the thing is honestly silent), expensive gas, oil changes, tune ups and expensive mechanics all in one shot.

We were a little worried about the transition at first but are now 100% sold on the fact that electric vehicles are the wave of the future and work for 87% of all vehicle owners.

So, where are we?

The front yard is lower maintenance and more environmentally friendly and offering up more spaces for growing food.
The Greenhouse is very close to being completed and ready for implementation for next year with a lot more room for growing and teaching.
The new electric vehicle has us on a road of even greener futures and ties into our closed loop lifestyle.

Overall, I would say we are in a great place!

News and event updates!!
news flash

For those interested in electric vehicles, this week is National Drive Electric week. There are events being put on in both Calgary and Edmonton where you can check out electric vehicles, go for a ride and meet some very cool people.

Calgary’s is being held on Saturday September 17, 21016 at 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Ikea Parking lot in Deerfoot Meadows.

Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/201601196920833/

Edmonton has their event on Sunday September 18, 2016 at 12:00pm  – 4:00pm at the Rock-N-Wash 4803 55 Ave NW.

Facebook event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1197962170255953/

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Another meeting of the crazy people doing crazy stuff in the back yard! Hope to see you at the face to face meet up!

For those wanting to talk Aquaponics, we have our Face to Face Meetup taking place this Sunday September 18, 2016 from 2:30 – 4:30 at the Clarion Hotel (2120 16 Ave NE, Calgary, AB)

Hope to see you folks at the events!

 

Spring Catch Up And Future Plans

To say that this has been a busy spring at Alberta Aquaponics would be an understatement.

In fact, I am not sure we are even at spring yet after looking outside this morning and seeing the snow covered everything that made me want to crawl back into bed.

Maybe there is our problem.

We have been sucked in by weather that has been highly unusual for Calgary that has egged us on to attempting to get everything going early and doubling our usual work load.

We have been doing a boat load of courses this year, both taking them and teaching them, which has been fantastic.

So far have already completed the Verge Permaculture course and the Permaculture tour that Ted Bahr from Prairie Sage Permaculture puts on for this spring as well as put on two of our own courses for the ABC’s of Aquaponics.

We also just completed the Alberta Government beekeeping course this weekend with our field day where we got some class time and had a chance to play with the bees.

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Over that, we have tilled and planted the grow beds in the front yard for our community gardens and have them in for an early start.

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We did add in some 1/2″ PVC and poly to act as a hoop house on all of the grow beds to ensure that we do not have any losses to things like the snow and frost we had last night and this morning.

We have been told by virtually everyone, that in the event it snows, it is all our fault for planting so early, so guess the white stuff out there this morning is all my fault for being sucked in by the weather.

For future things, I have started working on the change ups for Alberta Aquaponics for this spring.

We have a couple of ambitious projects and a bunch of smaller ones on the board for this summer and spring which include the upgraded installation of solar and the greenhouse rebuild.

We are going to upgrade our solar installation on our garage from 1 Kw to a 5Kw solar installation with a grid tie in using Microinverters.

We will be offering up a course on basic solar installation as we do the install. On the other side, everyone should have a basic understanding of the technology available, how to evaluate need, how to install the gear, how to maintain the gear and the permit process for making it all happen.

Stay tuned for dates within the next couple of weeks.

For the rebuild of the greenhouse, we are changing out our single car garage frame to a more efficient build based off of industrial pallet racking. The new build will be using S.I.P. technology for a better insulation factor, have the solar concentrator attached for water battery heating and include vermicomposting as a heating system.

As part of the new build and design we are planning to add in more grow bed space, a small seasonal N.F.T. system, a D.W.C. bed and a wicking grow bed.
This will be part of our Advanced Aquaponic Build Course for those interested.

This weekend  we are going to be hosting one of our yard tours. Saturday, May 16 from 1:00 – 4:00 we will be hosting a yard tour showing aquaponics, cunniculture (rabbit raising), vermicomposting, wicking grow beds, closed loop urban farming and much much more.

This is a free event for those who have taken our courses in 2015.

We will be following this up with our Face to Face meetup on Sunday, May 17, where we will get together for our monthly aquaponic meetup.

Come be a part of the community, bounce ideas, get information and have a few laughs with the aquaponic folks in the area! Always a great time and a lot of fun!

This is all just the start of what we have planned for 2015, so lets get busy, stay tuned and be involved!

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!

Out From The Cold, In With The New

As I am sure several of you are aware, we had a slight issue with the log in on the website this week with a captcha system that went awry. This actually even locked me out and was due to an update that killed the captcha from being displayed correctly.

I am very happy to inform everyone that this has been resolved!

As a result of the fix I am back posting and putting up updates.

It has been very cold here for the last week. Temperatures have dropped to the -28c range and with the windchill have hit -40c and lower. Enough to make a gardener want to run south screaming.

The greenhouse has been hanging in at around 3c. Not great, but it is still alive.

Every time we open the door, the temperature drops significantly, so as a result we have opted not to do a video update of the greenhouse at this point in an effort to keep what heat we have inside.

We have been working on some indoor gardens over the past little bit, including the aeroponic garden that we started up two weeks ago, so the updates for this week will be on the small scale systems I have created.

Last week we picked up a pound of worms from Mark and Pat over at Worms At Work and after a tour of the very cool facility they have set up, brought them home. Since then several people have asked about introducing worms into an aquaponic garden, so I thought I would do up a little video giving an explanation and a “how to”.

Donna and I have been working on attempting a rocket mass heater for the garage and greenhouse and had full plans of going ahead with a build on it this winter. After doing some more research however we have discovered that it may not be in our best interest to build at this point.

Pretty much every person we have talked to about the project who has built a stove has advised against doing a build int eh winter. We have been told that the adobe will not cure properly and that with the heat of the stove it will most likely cause steam pockets that could lead to a catastrophic explosion of the unit.

Having a bit of an aversion to maiming pieces of molten shrapnel flying anywhere in my greenhouse or in our general direction, we are going to listen to the advice of the knowledgeable and hold off on the build until spring when we will look at building it into the greenhouse. So, although the project is on hold, it is not dead.

I will attempt to get a video update of the greenhouse when it warms up (laugh) over the next couple of days.

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!

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!

20 Milestones and Q&A

This week marks a bit of a milestone. We have hit our 20th video update for the year on aquaponics and the fishery!

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the milestone than to answer some questions that have come in from the awesome folks who keep watching and asking about what we are doing.

I want to thank everyone who has been following our progress and are interested in what we have going on. I am glad that we have been of some use and a source of information to people looking to get into aquaponics and urban agriculture.

On the updates for this week, we have a few problems with the mechanical filter that we added to the filtration system in the fishery. We have discovered that the pressure of the filter is not up to par for the pump that we are running, causing the filter to leak like mad. We have found a method of dealing with it for now, but we will be looking for a means of resolving it long term here over the next few short weeks.

The filter that we actually require (according to the pump and filter manufacturer) is in the area of $2000.00 and not something we can afford at this time, so, we are looking for another fix.

We have started culling some of the bunnies. The rabbits are now at point where they are dressing out to be around 3 – 4 pounds. My butchering skills are still a little rusty, but I am getting better at it.

For some strange reason, although many people we know are freaked out over culling them, they all seem to want to try the rabbits when we cook them up and have had several people ask about us getting into breeding meat rabbits for sale.

It again hits me how disjointed we are from our food and how invisible the process is for the general person.

We will most likely be breeding another batch of bunnies here in the next couple of weeks so that we can some more meat for spring.

On the Greenhouse side, we have plans of getting the bubble wrap and insulation installed this weekend and if possible start some planting of the winter crops in the growbeds. We will also be moving the strawberries and herbs into the fishery and garage growbed for the winter.

For projects coming up, I now have the first satellite dish, for what I hope to be a few solar concentrators for a hot water battery system. This will be another project that I will build up and document for those of you who want to attempt one.

I have just received parts for the chimney for a solid mass heater / rocket stove build. I am planning on creating this as a portable demo unit that I can move and test in a safe area. I will again attempt to video this build as well.

If you are local and interested in getting involved in either of the builds, jump into the forum and let me know. We will set up dates and times for build dates.

 

Electrifying Roof Crashing Updates To Makers Faire

This weekend update starts up with the completion of the electrical upgrade to the fishery/garage. Franco did an awesome job on getting the new system up and running and transferring us over to the new upgraded panel. I cant express enough how much I appreciate his efforts and the work he has done! The man is a true master!

We still have a bit (a lot) of clean up to do in the garage/fishery before winter hits, which brings us to the next part of the update.

In an attempt to cost effectively (read cheap) insulate the fishery, Donna went up into the roof to distribute some Styrofoam that we picked up. This all seemed to be a great idea and everything was going well unit there was a god awful crash happened.

I was caught behind the door that magically closed on me shielding me from the falling rubble. When I came around the door, I expected the worst, but only found my wife hanging in the rafters yelling at me to get a ladder.

Thankfully Donna was fine and unhurt if not a little shaken up and angry at the accident.

Our project for insulating the fishery has turned into a slightly larger project now and another learning lesson from a small project.

On the subject of small projects, I have created a small barrel aquaponics garden that we plan on taking to the Makers Faire. The barrel garden is cute, even though I cant draw or cut out a fish in the barrel to save my life without it looking like something that needs my handicapped parking sign.

The garden is running like a dream and has probably the best running bell syphon I have ever created.

I have also put together an aeroponic system for the faire and have it planted. the unit needs some cleaning up just before the show, but it is up and running and doing well.

I still have another aquaponic garden to build for the faire. I am thinking of using an aquarium for it to show the fish off a little more, but we already have the growbed for it somewhat set up.

The other big project I have attempted to get back on is the pop can solar furnace that I have had sitting in the garage for the last few months. I still have hopes of getting it completed here shortly, but with the prepping for the makers faire this week and the faire this weekend, I am thinking it is looking at a project to solve out the weekend after next now. I hope that the weather holds out until then.

As for news on the garden, we have been harvesting tomatoes like crazy and have been pulling off a tonne of greens and even a bunch of spaghetti squash.

We have a slight problem with some white mold growing on the spaghetti squash that I need to take care of. I plan on getting on that this afternoon/evening.

Overall, we have a lot to do this week for the Makers Faire and then prepping for winter.

Who says farming slows down in the fall?
Not the farmer, that’s for sure.

Aquaponics! It’s What’s For Dinner!

Straight up, the reason people get into aquaponics is for the fresh food.

Well, I have to tell you that tonight was another harvest from our greenhouse and awesome dinner unfolded as a result.

With the veg I made a nice light Pico Salsa and then made fish tacos.

So, what did you have for dinner?

 

 

 

Black And White Changes And Updates To Fit Any Habitat

This week has had a lot of things changing and coming together. We are finally starting to get caught up on some of the maintenance around the greenhouse and fishery.

I now have the new Black Soldier Fly Habitat completed and the compost bin portion is starting to fill up with the trimmings from the gardens.

On the subject of Black Soldier Flies, I am about to do a mass order of them for my habitat, so if you want to get in on the bulk order with me and some others, please jump on the forum and let me know Here.

We have also started on our change over for the filtration in the fishery. We have swapped out the system we had running all summer with a new and improved filter structure. We still have some work to do on it, but I will do an update on it most likely next week when it is all completed.

We have been harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, herbs and lettuces like crazy which has opened up some space in our garden so we can get in and clean things up a little.

As usual, we have had a bunch of new folks coming in to see our set up and getting an idea of what aquaponics is all about. We have had the fortune of meeting some very cool individuals with varied levels of knowledge on gardening and aquaponics. We have helped a few of them get systems set up and added at least 4 more people this month to the licensed and running side of process.

I have hopes that some of these folks will add in some pictures and updates of their systems.

Speaking of pictures here are some of the shots from this week:

For up and coming things to take note of, we are going to be participating in the Calgary Makers Faire showing what aquaponics is all about in hopes of getting the word out to the world. Come by and check out the faire. You can find all of the details in the events calendar. Remember that you have to purchase your tickets for the event ahead of time, so plan ahead and book early. This event usually sells out which is why it has been expanded to two days.

Because of the Makers Faire, we are going to move the Face to Face Meet Up from the third Sunday of the 15th to the following Sunday of the 22, so be aware of the change. Check the Events Calendar Here. So now you have no reason not to come to the Makers Faire to see us and the other cool things presented!

In short we are back to being busy and have a bunch of things planned and scheduled for the weeks to come! The high side is that the updates should get more interesting and a little more varied.