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Chris,

Since you are in the upper midwest, have you thought about using lake perch?

I've worked in the restaurant industry most of my life, over half my life at this point, and i see a big difference in size when it comes to farm raised perch vs. Lake caught perch. What im interested in is how well the perch will do in a farming envrioment that is closer to a natural habitata than the conventional fish farm. Im wondering if there is a certain amount of nutrition gained in a natural envrioment through filtration brought by naturally occuring microbes which would be present in an aquaponics system that isn't mechanically filtered.

Also with using lake perch your water quality would need to be a bit cleaner, but the temp. Of the water could be considerably colder and still have the fish maintain a high enough metabolic rate to feed and reproduce. So really itd be a trade off, higher D.O. levels but lower average temp. Really when it comes to water quality lake perch, especially from lake erie are used to living in a literal toxic dump... so i think they can handle a bit more stress when it comes to water quality than your average fish.

Add the above paragraph to the fact that perch has a higher demand price than tilapia... match that up with a product like spinache or romaine lettuce in a floating raft system and youd have to almost try to fail and making some money.

Yes youll need a green house, but using lake perch and growing spinach or lettuce, youll only have to heat your facility to a temp of around 65 degrees, which is more that comfortable for lake perch and is around a prime temp. For growing romaine and spinach. And youll only have to heat your facility for 4-5 months out of the year, depending on how far north you go.
Wow, it IS awesome! love it
Thanks for the info.  Thats a nice way to do things.  I will experiment with some ideas including this one.

Green Acre Organics said:
HI AJ,  sure!  We have large totes that we have insulated the sides with 1/2" Dow blue board.   In the bottom is a piece of 2" Dow blue board with about 80 holes to fit 2" net pots. (the plants are packed in quite tightly)  We fill the tote with about 2" of water and have a large 6" medium pore airstone in the bottom underneath the foam raft.  We than supply air via a small aquarium air pump and either run it off an inverter in our vehicle if near by, from power if available and last resort is a small lawn mower battery with a DC inverter to power the air pump.  Aeration is definitely a necessary component to keep the plants looking nice and healthy with so many in such a small container.  We then pull the plant, cut off the roots and net pot and bag up the produce.  For lettuces, we dunk them right then in ice water to help them crisp up for the ride home and our customers love it!
I wonder if the towers I built would work for the Green organic ladies. They  hold 50 plants in a 9 inch dia tower just 4 foot tall. They are very easy to build and cheap.
Key for their stuff is the materials have to be "food safe"

TC, we transport in the back of a truck, or a station wagon set up for it (for small orders).  The towers slide in, slide out, and fit right into the display.  So far, no problems at all.  We are testing everything at a small natural foods store, so we replace towers every MWF.  Logistically it's pretty simple.

Green Acre, I've looked at bare-root plants a great deal and come to the conclusion that while the primary root systems look good on them, the damage done to the primary root area (root hairs and small peripheral roots) was pretty extensive, just not visible (unless you have a microscope).  I think the trick is to minimize the handling damage (like TC said).  This is the benefit of the towers- the roots remain completely untouched, so we don't need refrigeration or anything to keep the produce live for up to 2 weeks at market (it actually stays live for much longer, but doesn't look so great after this time period.).  This keeps our redworms live, microbes live, etc.  So we get it back to the greenhouse and don't have to start from scratch.  Plus, people seem to like the action of cutting their own produce. . . Anyway, I think you could do something similar, but the trick will be to keep the root damage to a minimum, which is hard with bare-root anything, especially since you can't see most of the damage being done. . . But I"m sure you know all this.  Sorry, I"m a verbal processer.

Michelle, thanks for the encouragement.  It's running great so far.  I'm used to something bad happening to prototypes, but so far, no problems.  (fingers crossed :)  )

 

AJ, we can do sales to restaurants using simplified displays consisting of a basin, pump and support arm.  It sets in the corner and chefs just cut off of it as they go (which eliminates the high labor req. associated with herbs especially).  60, 30 second breaks to cut some basil off for a recipe doesn't seem like much to a professional chef, but that's actually 30 min. of labor.  It's huge for us!  The towers last forever this way too.  Plants are live so there isn't any spoilage.  We also just cut stuff off of towers for restaurants that want produce but don't have a small display (we haven't started our first production run yet).  Or, restarants can just throw the tower in thier walk in cooler- they last up to 2 weeks in a cooler with no irrigation, with no ill effects.  It stays incredibly fresh so long as the plants aren't damaged.

Hi Nate,Green Acres,

Just plain ingenious, great out of the box thinking, you guys!

And I'm sure the Chefs love the absolute freshness being able to cut from a live plant as they prepare the recipe.
Yeah, they seem to love it.  I just got out of a meeting with our retailer.  She's bumping our prices up by another 50% and people seem more than happy to pay, so. . . .cha ching.  It's very rewarding to see AP profitable. :) It's more rewarding to be the person that gets paid!
Great thanks for the info nate.  Good work!  One other question, sorry if im being a noob, but have you noticed wether or not the plants need light?  Will they be ok with just room like for a week, or do they need a fluorescent setup?  That was the main question my coop asked me, and i wasnt sure.  Im mostly talking about basil, but other crop info is good to have.  Like i said ive got to do some experimenting.
At market the plants can go for a long time without any lighting.  they won't be growing, but you don't care about that.  people will be cutting them back anyway.  I'm going to be adding lighting to my displays because it helps highlight the colors of the greens, but it won't help with growth. . . . Hope that answers your question.
Thanks for all the info Nate!  No worries on the verbal processing!  We have seen some indications of root damage, but if handled carefully, we are having pretty good success with it.  But like you said, if the system allows for no or minimal root damage, the happier and healthier the plants are. All a work in progress.  And thanks Harold!

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