Support, A Suction Pump and A Drain Valve. The Blessings Local Artisan Greens received this year.
This year was an unusual one. I mean not typical of the other years I have run Local Artisan Greens because sales were low, planting was minimal, social media fizzled down to a deafening silence but still, we won.
Aaron joined in, offering not only his time but his sweat equity to the operations on the farm. Taking up part responsibility for daily feeding, and monitoring, system maintenance, and upgrades and also on the sales end (as an introvert, making sales and the effort it takes to make, keep and maintain sales relationships (as a grower, who just wants to plant) was a much needed and refreshing addition to my team.
This year we expand our fish production component, we installed a drain valve to the fish production component and was able to purchase a suction pump. We secured a central account for our fish and have been regularly supplying them with fresh whole Tilapia. While we have lost a main account, one that we've supplied with fresh Wheatgrass blades we have been able to experience something new and have made conscious decisions for the type of accounts we want to focus as we move forward, a topic for another day. By you may ask why do I feel so blessed with the additions and upgrades this year? Well it's simple and a matter of how it has improved our lives as Aquaponic growers.
Every time we have to restock or sort fish the additional fish tank makes life easier. It's now a breeze every time we have to do water exchanges, drain out fish production components or a single component or dump water, because we have a dedicated isolation and draining capabilities now installed. A suction pump is a tremendous help. Cutting down harvesting fish and emptying sections of the Aquaponic System in a fraction of an hour. Where previously we've had to share a single pump, cut off water flow through the system and waste significant amounts of time just preparing for this now, we are able to leave the system as is, isolate any component of the system (cap off incoming feeders and close drain valves) we wish to empty and use the suction pump without any significant time or effort.
Another significant thing that happened this year, is us acquiring one fresh, whole tilapia account in our local community. I have never sold a fish since starting Aquaponics, in 2009. This year, 2016 has been the first. Over the years I have given some away, quite a lot has died on my hands but sold? Nope. Never. This year marks the first year, after setting a personal goal last year, that we have fish sales (and repeat sales) coming out of our system. This excited me tremendously but more so because it opened my eyes to the local community and potential market around me and also because we are in a position where we were providing a community of people with food that we care for, tend to, freed responsibility and grow from fingerling (sometime fry) to adult with love, ethics all while carrying our to the best of our knowledge safe farming practices.
We have already begun talking about plans for a couple upgrades and improvements in the coming year.
- Proper handling of the fish components black (drain) water
- Improve aeration of each component. Inclusive of installation dedicated aeration system to the filter component of the system
- Pest control. Currently, slugs are my greatest enemy. Frogs, sometimes hop up and sit on crops, breaking leaves among other things so in my book, are also pests.
- Pave, tile or cover the area around the System that would allow for no wild grass growing, less muddy along the path with the most foot traffic and provide not only a small seating area but improve the general aesthetics of the system.
A couple decisions are to be made wrt the direction we are taking with the operation, our sales strategy and goals for the coming year.
With love from Freeport,