Rooting DC Feb 29

Mark your calendars for Rooting DC, DC’s free annual Urban Ag Forum.

This year’s event will be at Ron Brown Prep in Northeast on February 29, from 9:45am to 4:15pm.

Anacostia Aquaponics will be co-hosting a table with IDEA Public Charter School.

Anacostia Aquaponics Director Brian Filipowich will give a presentation Small-scale Aquaponics for Urban Food Production at 9:45am.

Above is a pic from Rooting DC two years ago when we had some fish in the vendor showroom!

Aquaponic Flower Experimentation in MD

By Tom Precht

Our flower farm, Grateful Gardeners, is a 1 acre plot in Boyds, MD, providing fresh, organic cut flowers to the local market.  We are big believers in green practices like aquaponics.
While vegetables are grown readily and with great success, flowers have not been fully attempted and investigated (with a few notable exceptions).  We decided to implement a pilot study of whether or not we could grow a few different forms of flowers; Zinnias (seed), Ranunculus (corm), Dahlia (tuber), and Dahlia (cutting).
We started with a basic DIY Barrelponics system, built from the free online plans out of 3 x 55 gallon food grade plastic barrels.  We had very little money to invest in this and so we decided to use pea gravel as our grow media (a decision we would regret later as all the manuals show out there) because it was less expensive than Hydroton.
We started with Tilapia fingerlings once the system was cycled. Initial results were promising, we saw rapid growth of Ranunculus corms, Dahlia cuttings, and Zinnia seeds in the system.  Tubers did not seem to take off, but the quality of the tubers may have been an issue.  The images of the growth show the speed with which they developed.  The pea gravel started to create some pH issues and because we were not in a fully insulated space, and this was November and December, we couldn’t regulate water temperature adequately.
We eventually lost all the fish and had to shut the system down early.  We are only now restarting the system in a newly built greenhouse which we hope to be able to heat through the winter months to try these same experiments again.

Aquaponic Lettuce at IDEA PCS Salad Bar!

The IDEA Public Charter School Cafeteria recently served lettuce grown by students in aquaponic and hydroponic systems.

Students in Urban Ag Club germinate, transplant, and harvest lettuce. They also feed the fish. Then they see the fruits – nay, vegetables – of their labor in the salad bar!

Students learn the science of growing, and also build skills in urban agriculture, food safety, horticulture, and water management.

Students learn that we must follow Good Agricultural Practices if our food will be served in the school or sold commercially.

The next step is to scale up and see how much we can grow!

Are you interested in bringing aquaponics to your school? Send us an email: brian@anacostiaaquaponics.org

Tilapia on IDEA School Rooftop

We just moved 12 donated tilapia to the IDEA Public Charter School Rooftop for a new aquaponic system (some are 5 years old!) We are gradually improving their environment and water conditions to make them feel at home.

Luckily, we have an electric water heater because it’s gotten so cold lately! … tilapia are native to Africa and prefer warm water.

We’ve been feeding them a very very limited diet before we establish a good biofilter. Plus they’ll still be stressed from the move and new environment

We have to get the system planted ASAP to start sucking nutrients out of the water.

Want to learn more? You’re in luck! — we have a Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course coming up in a few weeks! Learn more:

Small-scale Aquaponics Training Course

Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course & Certificate

This Spring, Anacostia Aquaponics is presenting a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program. Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program

The Course is designed to provide participants the skills and knowledge necessary to understand and meaningfully participate in the design, construction, and operation of a small-scale aquaponic system (about 30- to 500-gallons)

The course consists of 5 classes, each offered on multiple dates. Participants that attend all 5 classes will be awarded a Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course Certificate of Completion from Anacostia Aquaponics.

Learn more: Small-Scale Aquaponics Training Course and Certificate Program

Pollinator Garden Presentation & Award for IDEA PCS

Last week students from the IDEA Public Charter School Garden Club presented the plan to turn a school parking lot into a pollinator garden. The pollinator garden will prevent city water from flowing into the Anacostia River. William explained that the students want to be able to swim by Kingman Island on the River, but currently the water isn’t clean enough.

Chris explained how a pollinator garden improves the watershed by spreading more plants in the neighborhood that serve as a filter to dirty street water flowing into the river.

Local DC coyote fur!

Jared, Chris and William won $400 for their presentation!

We told the bus driver to head straight to the casino with our big ol’ check!

System Improvements at IDEA Charter School

James and William are retro-fitting an existing aquaponic system to improve water flow in the media bed. Without the extended pipes, one side of the bed would not have adequate water circulation. This could lead to poor water conditions.

In the background we see a hydroponic media bed already growing large amounts of basil and tomatoes. This is because we are still far from an adequate stock of fish to produce enough waste/fertilizer in the aquaponic system, whereas in hydroponics the appropriate nutrients can be dosed immediately.

In the hydroponic system, James’ and William’s improved water circulation is not as important because there is not nearly as much organic material to risk foul conditions. It’s important to understand the trade-offs between aquaponics, hydroponics, traditional soil agriculture, and other growing methods.

For IDEA Public Charter School, the aquaponic system is an invaluable STEM education tool to teach students about the ecosystem of fish, plants and bacteria. But it is important to note that depending on circumstances, aquaponics is not the answer for every growing situation.

Rooting DC this Saturday!

Who: Everyone
What: Rooting DC Urban Agriculture Expo
When: Saturday, March 3, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: Wilson HS, 3950 Chesapeake St NW, Washington, DC
Why: Sustaining a happy life on Earth!
Price: FREE

Anacostia Aquaponics will have our Hootie 2.0 Indoor Aquaponic System set up and running in the Vendor Showroom, goldfish and all. [Barring any technical catastrophes]

Anacostia Aquaponics Director Brian Filipowich will present “Aquaponics in Washington DC” at 10:00am in Room 205. There are many many GREAT presentations all day long! See Rooting DC Schedule

It’s always a great time, and there’s lots of foodtrucks, hope to see you there!

The Great Pizza Aquaponic Challenge

Last week we challenged the IDEA PCS garden club students:

If you can move this entire aquaponic system upstairs to the green room during your 1-hour lunch break, we upgrade to pizza for lunch next week. By the way: all the fish have to survive the move; the system has to be back up and running; and you have to move all the water too (we wouldn’t want to shock our bacteria with new water!)

The students succeeded, great teamwork.

Now onto the next goal: grow $200 of produce with this same aquaponic system by the end of the school year… we’re gonna need some bigger fishies than these goldfish, not to be koi 😉  [foreshadowing]