We had 18 visitors on the first Free Farm tour last Saturday, one group from 9.00am and the other from 10.30am. Everyone who attended left with a big smile on their face and made comments that they would now seriously consider starting their own Aquaponics systems and look at attending the Aquaponics Workshops by Aquaponics Urban Gurus. There were a couple of educators in the groups, one who teaches elementary students and one who teaches high school students. At the end of the tour, Sahib informed the two educators that if they attended the next 2 day Aquaponics Workshops scheduled for March 10th & 11, he would donate a Nano or a Micro Hybrid Aquaponics system for them to teach their students.
Sahib shared with them the following example. He asked them, how do you start bonfire? Both answered that you should start with small twigs that will light easily than the big logs. Small children will learn this wonderful knowledge quickly and will be able to expand its use significantly as they grow. It is for this reason that Sahib stated that he would be happy to donate such systems to the educators to teach our children this wonderful way of life.
Here are some of the thank you e-mails we recently received following the Farm Tours…
“Hello David, I will like to thank you, John and Mr. Sahib for the tour this weekend. I enjoyed it very much.”
“ I had a great time this past saturday. It answered many questions that I had. I am strongly considering your class possibly in March. I should be able to bring more people interested in Aquaponics in March. I will let you know the numbers and time. Thanks again.
May God bless your endevour “
Sahib loves to share his knowledge and encourage everyone to learn. His goal is to empower you to grow food for yourself, your family, your community and your business. Grown locally and grown naturally without any harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers. He thus offers FREE Farm Tours of Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm.
FREE Farm tours are held the first Saturday of every month starting at 10:00am and last for about one hour. As Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm is located in a small facility, you will need to register as we try to limit our farm visitors to 12 per tour so as to be able to give you personal attention. Small or large groups are welcome and we encourage field trips for all class sizes. Please plan to have any groups with young children or those with special needs, be chaperoned.
In a corner of a typical urban shopping centre tucked away in Florida sits what looks like a tiny service lane way. Except behind the timber gates is an entry into another world. Its been transformed into something else. A maze of pvc pipes run by a small pump and powered by goldfish is growing all kinds of aquaponic produce. Builder and designer Sahib Punjabi enthuses about aquaponics and especially Murray Hallam when we arrived to see his system.
Sahib reaches over and shakes Murray Hallam’s hand. “I want to teach this right around the world just like you do.” he says, “because thats the only way.”
Sahib has a hybrid mixture of floating raft and NFT running the length of this narrow corridor. An array of tote tanks line the side of the fence and from the ceiling dangle white pots growing a variety of herbs and lettuce. Visitors to his system delight in how he has managed to use every square foot of space to grow food. Any surplus of seedlings go outside and are planted in planter boxes around the car park that people are free to take home. Sahib sees aquaponics and permaculture as an excellent way to feed the planet.
We live in a very difficult environment to grow food.” says Sahib who explains that although Florida has ideal weather for three to five months of the year, the rest of the season can either get too hot or too cold to grow food.
“Believe it or not we get frosts here and it can also get very wet here.” he says. “The soil is a challenge because its sand – most of it.”
Sahib has also tried organic soil gardening but abandoned this method after experiencing soil contamination during heavy rainfall.
So Sahib turned to other methods of growing fresh food and discovered aquaponics. His passion turned into studying everything he could find on the subject.
“My wife said – you’re crazy!” he laughs, but the desire to learn all he could only drove him on. “I felt like I taught myself a (university) degree in this subject!”
Sahibs choice of fish to use in aquaponics is Koi because they are trouble free and easy to grow. His entire system is powered by a tiny 60 Watt submersible pump.
“This is something I learnt from Murray Hallam.” he says. “I’m using only one third of that pump’s capacity. Fifty percent of the pump’s water, I’m feeding back into the 1000 gallon fish tank, so that’s creating some aeration.”
Good aeration is critical to supply adequate oxygen flow in keeping your fish alive. Water is pumped the length of the yard to header tanks where the water is trickled back through the network of nft pipes and floating raft beds, returning back to the main fish tank completing the cycle.
Four Systems powered by one pump!
This one pump actually supports four different types of aquaponics systems. Floating raft, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) in those long pvc pipes, a wicking bed media system which allows Sahib to grow tomatoes, peppers and flowers in them and finally his vertical hanging pots system. By mixing his systems, Sahib feels he can take advantage of his fish solids to directly feed his wicking bed system and the heavier feeding plants like tomatoes that require more nutrient.
And yet even in this small space, Sahib feels he can add more hanging planters and incorporate other methods of growing food. Outside his main fish tank he has coco coir stuffed into concrete blocks so he can manually divert water to this system to grow plants outside his system like strawberries.
“In derelict space I have tried to create something that can feed a whole bunch of people.” he says.
Sahib looks back at his system and smiles, “Its not commercial – but it could be if I wanted it to be.”
We were humbled that Susan Friend and Tim Mann of Friendly Aquaponics accepted our humble request to visit our home in Central Florida and Sahib’s Aquaponics Research Farm and share some quality time with each other. What a wonderful time we all had with each others company and sharing the knowledge of how Aquaponics can be the key to growing food in a sustainable way of life. They spent some time at Sahib’s Aquaponic Research farm as well as the start of Phase II. Lot’s of thoughts and ideas shared 🙂
On this visit, Susan and Tim also were fortunate to visit the beautiful Hindu Temple in Casselberry which was blessed on the opening day in June 2005 from a Swami from Hawaii