Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

The Dream is to run an aquaponics system like the one Growing Power has to supplement our emergency food system and possibly to raise some food and fish to sell at Farmers markets to help support the non-profit.  

The big question at this point is whether we should be trying to find land to build a greenhouse and copy Growing Power completely or if we should try to use an old warehouse and do the system indoors.

Considerations:

Indoors there would be less interference from animals and kids

Outdoors we would have more access to pollinating insects

Indoors the weather would be controlable

Outdoors we wouldn't have to find a way to light it

I am sure there are other things to consider since I have never set up a system before.  What are your suggestions and thoughts.

Thanks for the input in advance,

Pam

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After having visited several aquaponics operations, in my opinion, Growing Power's model is not very efficient and won't produce as much as other systems out there. You are probably looking for more of a back yard type system such as offered by the owner of this site or can be pieced together from available materials. Start a small system and get familiar with the concepts. You can design and get feedback here to make sure your on the right path.

Jonathan has good words there.

Gain a little experience before you try to go super large scale.  While I think growing power is great, I caution people not to build aquaponics systems based on the short sound bites since that will usually lead to gross overstocking and likely fish kills from people trying to do what the video sound bite said without actually knowing the devil that is in the details.

Growing power may not be very labor efficient but they are non profit and have lots of volunteer labor.

I do not recommend the warehouse model since the operations I've seen that have tried it totally underestimated how much light you need to grow plants.  Use Sunlight/greenhouses to grow plants.  fish can grow in a shed or warehouse but the plant part needs lots and lots of light.  Unless you have free electricity, it won't be all that efficient to try to grow in a warehouse.  (a few windows don't cut it.)

Thank you both for your input.  I have been amazed as I have researched the last couple days at the different configurations that are possible with Aquaponics.  I am very excited about the potential of several of them.  Today I looked at Olomana gardens in Hawaii and I am starting to think that it might be good to combine Aquaponics with Rooftop gardening.  It seems like it could work really well.  I am already trying to find a rooftop that citybounty can use here in Portland so I have decided to see if I can find a place where we can build a small system and expand it over time.  

What was it I saw on here someplace about the 4 seasons.  Plan your system, Build your system, Plant your system, Expand your system or some such thing.  I love it!!

Rooftop gardening sounds great but you do need to make sure that the roof is designed to take the load. Water weights 8.34 pounds per gallon so even a modest 300 gallon tank is going to weigh a staggering 2500 lbs in a small footprint. I'm sure your beginning to see there is a lot of thought that needs to go in to building a system. Growing plants and fish is the easy part.

Green Sky Growers built a greenhouse on top of a building in Winter Garden FL to to hydroponics and aquaponis

Thanks TCLynx, Looks like they have a good system.  Good to see it can be done.  It makes me want to see the details of how they put it together.  

TCLynx said:

Green Sky Growers built a greenhouse on top of a building in Winter Garden FL to to hydroponics and aquaponis

That has actually been one of the concerns that I have.  I am not sure how to find out.  One of the buildings I would like to use is built like a concrete bunker and would probably be fine but some of the others are office buildings.  Portland is starting to do greenroof buildings but so far most look like they are just lawns and stuff that wouldn't be too heavy. There are a few pictures of one of them here: http://www.greenroofs.com/projects/pview.php?id=539

Honestly I thought it looked like a waste of space.  lol

When I visited Vancouver BC years ago I am pretty sure I saw trees growing on the roofs of the malls in downtown.  The whole top story was a huge park with skybridges and picnic areas.  It was really beautiful.

So anyway, who do I ask to find out if the roof can take the weight load? 


Jonathan Kadish said:

Rooftop gardening sounds great but you do need to make sure that the roof is designed to take the load. Water weights 8.34 pounds per gallon so even a modest 300 gallon tank is going to weigh a staggering 2500 lbs in a small footprint. I'm sure your beginning to see there is a lot of thought that needs to go in to building a system. Growing plants and fish is the easy part.

I talked to the staff there about it, it is a modern concrete building so they didn't need to do a lot of retrofitting but they did need to do some to spread out the load of the tanks.

TCLynx said:

Green Sky Growers built a greenhouse on top of a building in Winter Garden FL to to hydroponics and aquaponis

If you find a modern concrete building just find an engineer to go down to the buildings department and research the load capacity which should be specified in the plans of new buildings. Engineers are great... they can help you with everything in an AP build.

Pam Allen said:

That has actually been one of the concerns that I have.  I am not sure how to find out.  One of the buildings I would like to use is built like a concrete bunker and would probably be fine but some of the others are office buildings.  Portland is starting to do greenroof buildings but so far most look like they are just lawns and stuff that wouldn't be too heavy. There are a few pictures of one of them here: http://www.greenroofs.com/projects/pview.php?id=539

Honestly I thought it looked like a waste of space.  lol

When I visited Vancouver BC years ago I am pretty sure I saw trees growing on the roofs of the malls in downtown.  The whole top story was a huge park with skybridges and picnic areas.  It was really beautiful.

So anyway, who do I ask to find out if the roof can take the weight load? 


Jonathan Kadish said:

Rooftop gardening sounds great but you do need to make sure that the roof is designed to take the load. Water weights 8.34 pounds per gallon so even a modest 300 gallon tank is going to weigh a staggering 2500 lbs in a small footprint. I'm sure your beginning to see there is a lot of thought that needs to go in to building a system. Growing plants and fish is the easy part.

Jonathan Kadish has some great advice there, contact the engineers.

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