Chicago O'Hare Airport Vertical Farm
Chicago O'Hare Airport Vertical Farm by chipmunk_1

Where do I Go to Learn About Aquaponics and UrbanFarming

There is a ton of information on both aquaponics and urban farming. I started my search for ways to have a lifestyle where I work hard but nap harder.It is easy to become overwhelmed by the list of videos that you can watch on Youtube. Some videos are informational while others are how-to start.

What is the difference between urban farming and aquaponics? The ultimate goal of both is the same. Each system is designed to produce quality food for sale and self consumption.  My focus is to eventually have the option of leaving the workforce and work for my own business. Life is scary enough without risking everything and taking the leap into farming when we are not prepared. Having said that, sometimes we are at the position in our lives where we want or have to jump in and risk it all. Where do we begin?

Where to Begin?

Start where you are at currently. You don’t have to start big if you have another source of income. You can start learning easily if all you have is a one-twentieth of an acre or 2178 square feet of land that you can plant.  This small piece of land can be your classroom to learn from your successes and mistakes.  If you break away from trying to grow every vegetable that you want to eat and concentrate primarily on the quick growing vegetables, you may make a profit the first year.

To help you understand what the differences between what is called aquaponics, hydroponics, bio-ponics, air-ponics, and a purest view of urban gardening I will address each one individually.  I will direct you to Youtube videos to allow you to research each type of system to determine for yourself what would work for you.  Once you find a system that works for you, then I would recommend you study further by taking one of the many courses offered.

Berea College Aquaponics
Hayes Finnely, ’12 showing visitors the Aquaponics Facility during an Ecovillage tour. Taken June 25, 2010. by Berea College

Aquaponics:

Aquaponics is where the use of fish byproducts is used to feed your vegetables. You have a fish tank that pumps water filled with fish poop and piss into dirtless containers. There are variations of aquaponics that incorporate pebble beds, rafts, and air-ponics. Most large scale aquaponics is conducted in greenhouses and other protected environments. The protected environments can be your basement, garage, or shops to save money.

Where to start in aquaponics is up to you, but I recommend Murray Hallam’s Aquaponics: The First 12 Months.  This video shows you how to build a basic backyard system and follows it for the first 12 months. 

For a more advanced system would go to John from http://www.growingyourgreens.com and view his video  that covers the use of bamboo towers and Dachnik Domes’ system.  Another view is Hallam’s GroPockets – How to build a Tower system for Aquaponics / Hydroponics.

What is interesting about the tower system is that it uses air-ponics to mist the roots of the plants providing nutritional water and increase the production by ten-fold in the same space. Hydro-ponics and bio-ponics are very similar to aquaponics except they don’t use the fish. They used natural supplements to feed and boast the quality of the food. It is good to back up the aquaponics system with natural supplements.  This will help in case your fish die for some reason.

Copenhagen Urban Farming
Copenhagen Urban Farming by Mark Stevens

Urban Farming:

Urban farming is mostly small scale dirt farming. Some of the experts claim to be able to produce a living from a quarter acre and a strong income for 1.5 acres.  These are not your till up the dirt, throw out the seeds, and then reap a ton of money programs. The successful ones seem to be well organized and planned.  These urban farmers have set procedures that they have learned over time. Although the procedures may seem difficult in the beginning, the urban farmers have made them easier to use.

The true guru of urban farming is Curtis Stone. There are two videos that he has made which will help you get started. The first video to watch is,”THIS IS HOW MY FARM WORKS! – $100K on a quarter acre.” After that, consider watching Stone’s video, ”HOW TO START A FARM ON $5000 OR LESS!!!”

Conclusion

Both systems above are great to get the independence that many crave. Which one is better? That depends on the individual concerned. The urban farming is easier to get into and is far less expensive.  It is not based or dependent on the need for electricity as aquaponics. The aquaponics system may be easier to maintain and produce more products in the long run. Aquaponics also produces a strong protein product in the fish for off the grid life sustainability.

The path to be independent in the area of farming is here. These are not 2017 new, but they are methods which you can use to become a cutting edge business.  A big plus that has not been addressed before is that all these programs are recession proof. The economy goes up and down and yet the demand for quality vegetables at competitive prices will remain.  People have to eat.

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