In my last blog about Green Acre's breaking news, I announced that we had moved on from our former affiliation and explained a couple of the reasons for our change in direction. Most importantly though, it was time to expand upon our own aquaponic experience and share it with others that were eager to learn. Since last month, we have even more great news to share and more details about our new and exciting direction and partners and its fall and any Florida farmer knows Fall means things are growing, including the Green Acre farm!
After the conference in September, we finally announced our decision that we were now ready to launch our own training program. Tonya and I had always talked about starting our own program and we were ready to teach new and eager farmpreneurs how to replicate our Green Acre model. That's what most of the people that come to us want to know. So we set out to develop a curriculum that would teach students how to build a small aquaponic farm and how to operate it with just the labor of two people without additional employees or having to rely on other unpaid labor such as interns or volunteers. We work everyday to make a living from our small farm for the two of us and wanted to share with others how we were doing it.
"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
Abraham Lincoln -- Every time I read this, I have to wonder if Abe was thinking about growing fish and veggies when he said that!
Then, I had this crazy idea. I had been working "on line" for months with Sylvia organizing the conference and then later on with Murray for the Association and finally at the conference met up with my one-demensional friends. We immediately clicked and a few weeks later, I began to think how great it would be if they would join us to deliver an even better package then what Tonya and I could offer alone. So I sent an email off to Sylvia and Murray with "Crazy idea" in the subject line and as a result the Green Acre Aquaponic Training - The Complete Course was born. Murray was just unveiling his hybridized media/raft systems and we were converting ours, so the timing seemed perfect. The other important component was the business aspect and Sylvia agreed to handle what is easily as important as growing the veggies and fish, the fundamentals of business management and more.
Amid all this, it had cooled off and things were back to growing like mad with all the fun crops fall brings. Our farm projects are near completion and I returned from a an incredible trip visiting Sweet Water Organics, Growing Power, Myles Harston from AquaRanch, 312 Aquaponics, GroHaus and Colorado Aquaponics. Weeks earlier I had decided to visit some farms and systems that knew what it was like to deal with cold weather growing. Even here in North Central Florida where our frequent freezing nights makes having a structure necessary, we knew we needed to get a better understanding of dealing with 'real' cold weather growing and cold protecting structures. Arriving to over a foot of snow in Colorado seemed incredibly appropriate!
Soon after returning home from my visit, Sylvia shared her exciting news that Cord and Penn Parmenter had agreed to come and offer their incredible Passive Solar Greenhouse workshop with our aquaponic training. These are folks that really understand what its like to grow in winter conditions and with their unbelievably economical Passive Solar design, grow year round at 8000 feet! Complete with anecdotes about mountain lions and incredible horsemanship, Penn and Cord are nothing short of amazing. Penn will also be teaching a segment on seed saving too.
Last, we'd like to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement. Its been overwhelming and we appreciate it!