Earth Day Open House

Please come to our open house on Saturday, April 19th from 2-4PM in our new south side facility in the basement of 401 Bingham St., Pittsburgh PA. Technically, Earth Day is April 22…but why wait?

Aquaponics open houseWe have built an indoor Aquaponic system that is just getting ramped up to full food production capacity:

  • a 4′ x 8′ media grow bed
  • a 4′ x 8′ deep water culture trough with floating rafts
  • 1 Swirl filter

All connected to a 400 gallon circular fish tank and illuminated by high-efficient induction lamps.

We’re growing organically:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat grass
  • Cabbage
  • Blue Nile Tilapia

Please come with your questions and curiosity. We’re eager to show and teach you about Aquaponics.

Books, aquaponics parts and starter aquaponcics systems will be available for purchase.

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Europe to Invest $7 Million for Aquaponics Demonstrations

Source: European Commission

How can we cope with the global future challenges? The growing world population induces competition for water, land, food, and energy. But resources are limited, and unsustainable agricultural practices and climate change are aggravating these problems.

Therefore, the European Union (EU) decided to fund a visionary project: for the next 4 years, 18 partners from 8 countries will work on an auspicious new green technology. About 6 million Euros are granted to implement an innovative aquaponics system that has the potential to contribute remarkably to global food security for the 21st century…

In the project, four large-scale demonstration facilities – each at about 500m² – will be modeled, built, and evaluated. The sites will be located in Spain, Belgium, Germany, and China. Additionally, an artist will design several smaller mobile showcases to present the aquaponics system to the public. “Thereby, all stakeholders will have the possibility to experience this innovative technology”, says Staaks.

“We want to prove the economic viability of the system, and develop modular solutions of the system scalable and adaptable to local conditions. INAPRO will open new market opportunities for innovative aquaponics both inside and outside Europe, for producers and technology suppliers from the manufacturing industries as well as for the end-users”, summarizes Kloas.

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New Ken Man Brings Aquaponics to Haiti

Aquaponics in HaitiSource: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

One goal of Give Hope Global is an aquaponics project to help make the orphanage self-sufficient.

The first step is to build pools to raise tilapia. Then, the water from the fish pools in channeled into water gardens by way of a solar-power system. The water is recirculated back into the pools. Tom Roberts designed and built the sheds over the aquaponics tanks.

The gardens will allow orphanage residents to grow vegetables in a series of areas 50 feet by 4 feet wide.

“We built the first 12-foot-round pool in October,” Roberts says.

When the operation is at full force, Cambry residents will be able to produce 600 pounds of tilapia and 2,500 pounds of vegetables each month.

“This can result in more healthy food for the orphans, income and jobs for the people there,” Braswell says. “Tom and Scott were instrumental in getting this off the ground. Your town should be proud of Thomas Roberts. Just to see him there — the Haitian kids really gravitated to him.”

Braswell says each module for the pools and gardens cost $22,000. Give Hope Global hopes to build seven initially, then add more. The pools will run on solar-generated electricity, with solar panels installed at the top of the pools.

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Aquaponics at Oblock in Plum

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Aquaponics in Plum middle school

Aquaponics in Plum middle school

Oblock Junior High School teacher Jason Steele wanted to give his students hands-on experience.

When he discovered 4th River Aquaponics in the Strip District and found out about a grant possibility for the concept, he decided to explore creating an aquaponics lab at Oblock as part of his technical education curriculum.

Aquaponics is the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) that grows fish and plants together in one system, Steele said.

The fish waste provides a food source for the plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water in which the fish live.

“It’s a cycle,” said Steele who, incorporated the program as part of the technical education curriculum in which students also have instruction in robotics, computer graphics and animation and advanced game maker…

Students in Steele’s class have been working throughout the first part of the school year in the aquaponics lab.

Steele said the students perform duties including growing the plants from seeds, measuring the pH levels in the water, maintaining the temperature of the water in which the bluegill fish are living, feeding the fish and measuring the oxygen levels in the water.

Steele said the students learn a variety of disciplines through the work they perform.

“This lab screams STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) because of the process,” Steele said.

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Aquaponics Open House III

Summer is over! Time to figure out how to continue gardening through the Fall, Winter and Spring. How do you do that? With Aquaponics, of course!

Like the last Aquaponics Open House, we will have presentations explaining in greater detail permaculture principles, Aquaponics and growing MicroGreens for fun and profit.

When: Sunday, September 29th, 3-6 PM
Where: 401 Bingham St., 2nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South side)
Parking: On street

Aquaponics and Microgreens

At the last open house in June, Rich explained how to grow Microgreens using Permaculture principles and Aquaponics.

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Door Campaign Aims to Teach Aquaponics on North Side

Pittsburgh Aquaponics has been approached to assist this project and will do so where it can. Having a location and some old greenhouse equipment is a great start.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Door Campaign is weeks old and already has a board of directors, two sites for an innovative leadoff project and associations with high school and college mentors.

“The idea is to get young African-American men to show the community that we can be the change,” he said. “We’re trying to expose our demographic to a different world. The door in the Door Campaign is the one that opened to me.”

A recent alumnus of CORO’s Next Leaders program on the North Side, Mr. Swatson came up with the idea of an aquaponics studio — a climate-controlled chamber in which fish and vegetables grow together in a symbiotic nutrient cycle. There are a variety of set-ups that include an aquarium for the fish with the produce in a tier above.

The basic concept is that the fish provide the fertilizer for the plants to grow. The environment has to be controlled so that sunlight, water temperature, nitrogen, oxygen and ammonia levels are kept in balance.

The details of the plan are still being worked out, but the fish and the plants they fertilize would be used for consumption. The fish, possibly perch or tilapia, would be housed in large freshwater tanks.

Mr. Swatson found a supportive ally in Renita Freeman, director of the Urban League’s Family Support Center in Northview Heights, where the studio will be located in a 19-by-15-foot former greenhouse.

A demonstration model also is being planned for a site in Manchester, where more people can see “and wrap their heads around plants growing with fish,” said Mr. Swatson, a student at the Community College of Allegheny County.

One benefit of aquaponics is that it solves the problem of contaminated urban soil that traditional gardens have to overcome. Another is that you get fish.

“The Door Campaign will raise food to give to the community, and we have established some collaborations with North Side restaurants to purchase the fish,” Mr. Swatson said.

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Aquaponics Open House II

Unlike the first Aquaponics Open House, we will have extensive presentations explaining in greater detail permaculture principles, Aquaponics and growing MicroGreens for fun and profit.

When: Sunday, June 9th, 2-5 PM
Where: 401 Bingham St., 2nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South side)
Parking: On street

Aquaponics Open House

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New 20-gallon Home Aquaponic System

Before we built our 20-gallon demonstration Aquaponic system for the Farm to Table conference in March, we suspected that people wanted something like this for their homes, schools and offices.

Aquaponics Demonstration system

Demonstration Aquaponics system at the Farm To Table Conference

After the feedback at the conference, we definitely know that people want this. While the demonstration system was meant to be only that, many asked if they could buy it and take it home! So, we started looking for a system to bring to Pittsburgh.

After much research and testing, we assembled a fantastic, cleverly designed home Aquaponics system that fits over any 20-gallon aquarium (tall or regular).

The system can happily live in a living room, dining room, office, classroom or basement. It requires no outside light and needs just 2 standard electrical wall sockets to power the high-efficiency water pump (7 watts) and 2-foot grow lights (48 watts).

Plus, the system is very efficient with space and packs 13, 3-inch growing spaces into every unit. That’s enough for 4 heads of lettuce, 4 cucumber plants and 5 basil plants!

And it works wonderfully! After just 5 days, the system was producing beautiful seedlings:

Seedlings in home Aquaponics system

Cucumber seedlings in the front row of the new, 20-gallon, home Aquaponics system

This Aquaponics system with grow lights can be purchased by itself or you can get the complete 20-gallon system that comes with an aquarium, Aquaponic starter water, organic basil seeds and free delivery, installation & 30 day support within the city of Pittsburgh.  Click here for more information…

If you want to learn Aquaponics and start growing your own veggies year-round, this system will teach you and your family everything. There is no better way to learn than to learn by doing.

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Vacant Land Ripe for Aquaponics

Aquaponics on vacant city lots

Photo credit: Brian Cohen

If you attended the Farm to Table Conference last weekend, thank you for visiting with us. We enjoyed meeting and talking with everyone. Pittsburgh needs more Aquaponic gardeners to make the city more resilient.

If you didn’t have a chance to pick up a copy of the DIY Aquarium Aquaponics manual, it is now available for sale here.

The article below stems from my work to bring Aquaponics to food deserts in communities like Garfield, Larimer and Hazelwood. There are plenty of vacant lots and the opportunity to grow local organic veggies would be huge.

Source: Pop City Media

Combining hydroponics (growing in water) with aquaculture (growing fish to eat), aquaponics places linked fish- and plant-growing apparatus beneath 22-foot geodesic “biodomes” in vacant lots so that local food production can continue all year round. By providing fresh food to neighbors and selling it to restaurants, Mark Berger hopes the biodomes will be self-sustaining and provide education for local adults and kids in sustainability.

“How do we have more sustainability so we do not take resources from future generations?” Berger asks, pointing to statistics that, here in America, which imports its food from around the world, 10 calories is expended getting food here for every calorie consumed. “That clearly is not sustainable,” he says. With aquaponics’ recirculation using a small electric pump and a gravity-powered siphon drain, it uses 98 percent less water, 90 percent less energy and 75 percent less labor than other forms of agriculture. The biodome, as Berger envisions it, would gain 30 degrees of heat compared to winter’s temperatures simply from passive thermal radiation inside the structure, and place its fish tank underground to take advantage of natural ground temperatures for water that needs to be 65 degrees.

With no vacant-lot soil being used, growers don’t have to worry about eliminating toxins buried in the lot from building materials and previous industrial uses. Biodomes would improve lots by bringing in electricity, but are temporary — they need no foundation — so they can be moved if needed. One person would be employed to stop by once a day to tend each dome.

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Farm to Table Conference

Farm to Table Conference, Pittsburgh PA

March 22-23, 2013 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Pittsburgh Aquaponics will demonstrate an Aquponics system at the Farm to Table Conference March 22-23 (this Friday and Saturday) at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The demonstration will be located and powered by the nice folks at Zero Fossil where the water pump and light will get 100% of its energy from sustainable, green sources.

Also, we will be showing off some new Microgreens in the grow bed, courtesy of Rich Fishkin.

So, if you have not made plans already, come down this Friday or Saturday to learn more about Aquaponics. And come meet other farmers, food producers, non-profits, retailers, green energy companies, wineries, dairies, apiaries, chefs, wellness professionals and people who care about food.

You can see a list of exhibitors online.  There are speakers and cooking demonstrations both days. The schedule is on this website.

The food vendors will also have items available to purchase – bring reusable bags and prepare to shop for the best in local Pittsburgh food.

Bonus: Kids under 12 get in free!

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