We’ve got our own Black Soldier Flies!

Black Soldier Fly #1Here they are, one of the most incredible creatures on the planet–Black Soldier Flies–and they’re flying around in our enclosed growroom. Notice their lovely purple and blue iridescent wings. Because we live in the high desert of Southern California, Black Soldier Flies are not native to our environment so for the first several months of owning and trying to operate our new BioPod™, we failed to produce Black Soldier Fly Grubs. I realize for those of you who are not in the know, I need to start at the beginning so this blog post makes sense. Here goes.

Information spreads in an interesting way; and about a year and a half ago, information about a certain kind of fly–a Black Soldier Fly– was flying (pun intended) around in the lexicon among aquaponics enthusiasts. It was purported that this fly could produce offspring, their larvae, known as grubs, that are very high in protein and that this larvae could be fed to poultry, reptiles and fish (hence the interest among us aquaponics buffs). Now this fly it was said has no mouth and, therefore, does not eat. All it wants to do is mate and make more grubs so it’s not interested in getting into the house or foraging for food in your kitchen. Hopefully, the two below have decided they’re in love or at least ready to talk about doing the wild thing as perhaps indicated by antennae apart vs. antennae together so they can make grubs together.Blk. Soldier Fly #5

If you’re wondering why these beneficial insects are called Black Soldier Flies, the image below may help us figure it out. It appears they have body armor as indicated by the black shield over their backs.Blk. Soldier Fly #6

But this fly needed technology to become the boon to mankind it has the potential of being. So a piece of equipment (that does not require power of any kind) came along that assists this incredible protein producing insect to make more protein using . . . (wait for it) YOUR HOUSEHOLD WASTE!

Egad! That’s almost too good to be true. All you need to do is gather your food waste, place it into the machine and Wha Lah! Soldier flies climb into the bin where the food is placed, not to eat the food because, remember, they have no mouths, but to lay their eggs, which will hatch into larvae called grubs. And guess what these grubs do. These grubs do nothing but eat. They eat your household waste and become chubby morsels of protein for your chickens, reptiles and fish. This machine is designed in such a way as to encourage the grubs to self migrate right into the harvesting bin. This machine is called a BioPod™.A USA BIOPOD

Just click the link to go to our website page that further explains this phenomenon and watch an amazing video of grubs devouring two large fish. You can also purchase a BioPod™ on our page designated especially for it.

As a grub farmer, all you have to do is keep the feeding bin supplied with moisture and food waste, harvest the grubs from the collection bin and make sure several grubs mature into adult black soldier flies so the process remains self sustainable.A World Grubbs on hand If you live in an environment where Black Soldier Flies are a natural insect in the eco system, you can keep your BioPod™ in a cool place outdoors. We need to keep our Black Soldier Flies contained in our growroom as there is no one to mate with outside; and the colony would die out quickly. We’re working on getting our neighbors to start raising Black Soldier Flies in hopes of creating a desert colony; but for now we’re on our own.

We’ll do another blog post on the BioPod™  and all the stages that the grubs go through before becoming adult Black Soldier Flies for those of you who are beginners at this so you don’t make the same mistakes we did. One of the biggest mistakes we made was we cooked our first batch of grubs because we left them outside in the BioPod™ without enough moisture before realizing we needed to bring them indoors. The other mistake we almost made is we saw these black (should have been a clue) crusty looking things where the fat, beige grubs were supposed to be and almost threw them out. This was the stage where the grubs were turning into Black Soldier Flies.

If Black Soldier Flies are not natural to your environment, you need to order a little box of newly hatched grubs from the BioPod™ manufacturer. If you’re interested in doing that, just give us a call at 760-671-3053 and we’ll set you up. Four years ago if someone had told me I’d be selling Black Soldier Fly Grubs, I would have recommended they get psychiatric care.  Funny how the twists and turns take you down unexpected alleys on the pathway of life. On the aquaponics path, there seem to be lots of wonderful surprises. Black Soldier Flies are one of them.

Thanks for following our Blog. Stay tuned. More surprises coming.

The Growroom is really living up to its name now!!!

We’ve been operating a Growroom we built by closing in a typical ranch style home back porch about a year and six months ago. Because we sell our Food Forever™ Growing Systems to people who place them in Greenhouses, basements, garages or spare rooms, we wanted to be able to demonstrate aquaponic food growing technology in an indoor environment as well as in our Greenhouse.

We also wanted to do a comparison between the two growing environments; and we’re coming up with some interesting conclusions. One of those conclusions is that right now, January 19, 2013, our Growroom is putting out more veggies than our Greenhouse. We’re in the high-desert of Southern California, and we’ve been dealing with some bitter cold for the last week. It’s actually gotten down to the mid 20’s at night and stayed in the high 30’s during the day; and for Californians, that’s really cold. Nevertheless, our Growroom has stayed a  balmy 77 degrees F; and our fish tank water is up around 80 degrees F. And here’s what’s happening in that wonderfully controlled environment.

We have walls of Basil growing and beds full of Butter Lettuce.

An 11 sq. ft. Grow Bed full of butter lettuce flanked by Basil.

An 11 sq. ft. Grow Bed full of butter lettuce flanked by Basil.

The Basil is growing so tall, we have to keep moving the lights up higher and higher.

Chinese Cabbage, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce and lots of Basil

Chinese Cabbage, Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce and lots of Basil

We finally figured out the right amount of light needed to grow incredible amounts of veggies. We’re using Fluorescent Fixtures, which are great for growing leafy greens; but they won’t grow flowering vegetables like cucumbers. These T5 Grow Tubes are on only eight hours a day and are really doing the job. We’re selling these lights on our website in two sizes. There are eight Grow Tubes in each light; and it takes two of the larger sized lights (FF-8B) to cover one of our 11 sq. ft. Grow Beds. When we were trying to do this with one of the small lights, FF-8A, we were getting stunted growth and brown spots on our leaves. Now we are getting huge, beautiful leaves, no spots and virtually no pests in this Growroom. To check out these great Grow Lights, go here.

An up close look at some of the most beautiful and delicious Butter Lettuce possible.

An up close look at some of the most beautiful and delicious Butter Lettuce possible.

This is a Grow Bed full of Rex Butter Lettuce. It’s delicious, hardy and prolific. This lettuce went from seedlings to full heads in about one month and it was the coldest month we’ve experienced in California in a long time with outside temperatures around 25 degrees F at night.

This Growroom has two entry doors. Below is the room from the North facing door. There are two fish tanks in this room. The one in the foreground of this photo is our 120 gallon tank; and it’s holding about 25 tilapia. In the foreground is our automatic fish feeder. When someone asked us who was taking care of the fish, both Oliver and I looked at each other and said, “No one’s taking care of the fish.” Then we both thought for a moment and corrected ourselves to say: “The fish feeders are taking care of the fish.” If you think raising fish is difficult, think again. They pretty much take care of themselves and only need to be fed.

Coming in the South facing door, you see our 320 Gallon Fish Tank in the foreground.

Coming in the North facing door, you see our 120 Gallon Fish Tank in the foreground.

Below is a photo of our South facing door. When you enter from this side of the room, you see our 320 gallon fish tank that has around 35 Tilapia in it. Some of these guys we’ve had since we started doing aquaponics and they’re huge. We’re letting them grow to see how large they’ll actually get. Everything’s R&D around here as we started from scratch not knowing anything about aquaponics until we discovered it in 2008. We’ll share some photos of these guys in our next Blog post.

Entering the Growroom from the South facing door. Here is our 320 gallon fish tank

Entering the Growroom from the South facing door. Here is our 320 gallon fish tank

We’ve explained in the past how we keep our Growroom a balmy 77 degrees F in the dead of winter; but for those of you who missed that important tid bit of info here it is again. We use a standard home hot water heater in that room. It’s rigged with a stainless steel pipe that comes out of it and wraps twice around the bottom of the 320 gallon fish tank. The hot water heater heats the water to whatever temperature we want. A couple of days ago, we upped the temperature from 76 degrees to 80 degrees to heat up the room a little bit more because it’s all that hot water that’s keeping the room warm. There’s nothing else in the Growroom except a small air conditioner for summer.

Hope your Holiday Season was joyous and you’re getting off to a great start in 2013. We’re about to start harvesting that Butter Lettuce and will be selling it over at Sue’s Health Food Store in Yucca Valley, CA, our local go to place for everything that’s good for us. Our next Blog post will be about the harvesting, packaging and delivery of the veggies we’ve talked about here.

We’re growing more than we can eat ourselves right now, which is the good news; but we’re not really growing enough to make money on the food sales. We wanted to make that clear so we don’t send out the wrong information here. Right now, selling our veggies is practice for moving into a viable commercial operation down the road. An economically viable commercial aquaponics operation requires a much larger set up than our little R&D set up. Our focus right now is selling systems. We grow food for ourselves and to demonstrate how well our systems work. When we grow more than we can eat, we’ve arranged to take our excess over to our local Health Food Store because that’s the right thing to do; and I get to exercise my marketing brain with packaging, point of sale signs, vendor/owner relationships etc. It’s all practice.

Thanks for visiting our Blog. We really appreciate your participation in this exciting new way to grow food. We love sharing and are so blessed to be able to do that with you here. We’re keeping the same motto for 2013 as 2012.


Once you get the bug (pun intended) Gardening becomes a way of life!

Through The Eyes of Grace Photography, Title: Desert Dreaming

I’ve lived in the desert for over six years now; and I’ve yet to get used to what happens when the seasons change from fall to winter as it appears to happen over night and unexpectedly. One weekend we’re in our pool playing pool volleyball and the next weekend is winter. Last year we got caught with our volleyball court still under the pool cover and our swimming suits hanging on the fence. Then, poof, summer was over.

This year we did a little better personally and had voluntarily abandoned the pool ; but we were still trying to hang on to our outdoor garden and failed as four cool days and frosty nights in a row hit us like an arctic winter. We desperately tried to tarp this little outdoor oasis that sits beside our Aquaponics USA Greenhouse; but it wasn’t able to keep the freeze out. We pretty much lost everything although there are some tomato plants still hanging on to life. They are the ones that were closest to the cement blocks that make up the riser we built to raise up the greenhouse. The heat from the blue flame heater inside the greenhouse must have passed through the wall enough to keep these plants alive.

The photos below are what frost bite looks like on cherry tomatoes, squash and corn. It’s a sad sight. 

Still I got a sweet harvest from this outdoor garden today as you can see by the photos below. You wouldn’t believe how incredible these cherry tomatoes taste (although, they’re not quite as sweet as the ones that are growing in our Food Forever™ Growing System).

The squash had a ways to go so they are pretty small; but I’m sure they’ll taste really great. The radishes hadn’t been in the ground long and I was surprised to see how big some of them were as we harvested them prematurely as well. They actually survived the frost better than the squash and didn’t have frost burn at all. It seems that the plants that were closer to the ground did the best. 

You may be wondering how we’re gardening outdoors at all since we do live smack dab in the middle of the Mojave Desert as you can see from the lead-in photo. The truth is we didn’t think we were going to be able to grow a traditional garden here either. That’s why we built a Greenhouse and started our gardening careers doing Aquaponic Gardening. Neither one of us had ever gardened before so our first foray into gardening was Aquaponic gardening.

Our first season of Aquaponic gardening was in 2009; and our Greenhouse turned into a jungle. We were amazed and we got the gardening bug big time. In fact, now I just don’t feel right if I don’t have food growing in my environment. In 2011, we decided we wanted to use the space alongside our greenhouse for a traditional soil garden. So what we did was we ordered a truck full of “real dirt”, built raised beds and planted our first outdoor garden.

This year our outdoor garden did better than our first year; and by next season, we plan to have a little protective fence around it to keep the critters out. They don’t seem to like tomato plants and corn so they pretty much left the garden alone this past season; but we were feeding them in an area that is close to the house so that may have made a difference.

Through The Eyes of Grace Photography, Title: Lunch Date

So now we basically had to give up on the outdoor garden. But back in the Aquaponics USA Greenhouse, things are still growing and there’s no fear of frost burn.  We have two Grow Beds full of runaway tomato plants. By runaway I mean I haven’t trimmed off the suckers enough and these plants have taken over the Beds. I recently harvested quite a few tomatoes from them, but as the weather has cooled, their production has gone way down. However, they are still working at putting out fruit as you can see from the photos below.

Tomato growing in our Greenhouse in November, 2012.

Below are a couple of photos of lettuce that is growing in our Greenhouse right now.

Lettuce growing in our Aquaponics USA Greenhouse.

Here’s some Chinese Cabbage and Lettuce growing in our Greenhouse.

The Peppers you see in the photo below are also growing in our Greenhouse right now in mid November; but the Pepper Plant that produced this fruit isn’t doing well because it’s being strangled by the huge tomato plant that has taken over that Grow Bed. Nevertheless, this determined Pepper Plant was able to pop out these lovely peppers.

Peppers hanging out of the Grow Bed that has been taken over by Tomatoes.

I planted a bunch of seeds into seedling trays yesterday (Aquaponics gardeners can be planting seeds in November) so we plan to plant a lot of leafy greens into our Grow Beds soon. Leafy greens love cool weather; and we’ll be growing a lot of lettuce, basil,  chinese cabbage and more in both our Greenhouse and Growroom soon.

We’ll share more photos and stories about our adventures as Aquaponics (and soil) Gardeners in the near future. In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and GET GROWING!

Aquaponics USA is a big hit at the Self Reliance EXPO

At 5 AM on October 25th, we climbed into our Honda Pilot packed with two traveling fish tanks and 35 Tilapia in the back supported by two air pumps, two aerators, a back-up battery pack, inverters and a lot of prayer. We got on the Interstate 10 and headed East followed by our Installation Team in a Toyota Tacoma with a trailer full of supplies for our Fish & Veggie Road Show.

After stopping for breakfast, and hitting a couple of roadside rests, we arrived in Mesa, AZ around noon to begin the rigorous job of moving everything, via dollies, from our vehicles to our Exhibit space, which was directly in line with the main stage. The fish came into the Mesa Convention Center in nets supported by buckets one and two at a time.

The next day, Friday, October 26th, the EXPO opened at 11 AM. Below are a series of photos showing us putting the final touches on our Booth that morning. This was only the second time we had set up this Booth, so we were still figuring out the logistics; but this set up went twice as fast as our set up in Los Angeles at the KNOWPHEST.

Our close neighbors were Equip2Endure. They are a broad based survival website that features Survival Training, Survival Hunting, Survival Gear and much more. They were teaching people how to start fires without matches in their Exhibit. Equip2Endure is a member site and you can join for free. They have hundreds of YouTube Videos up and  saw all the exhibitors and customers coming over to see what we were selling and asked us if we would allow them to do a Video Interview of Aquaponics USA. Of course we said, “Yes”, and just last night that Video went into the YouTube stream. It was a real splash as now less than 24 hours later, it already has over 1,000 Views and counting! Just click on the Equip2Endure website; and you’ll find us on their Home Page, or if we’ve scrolled off their Home Page, just go over to our Aquaponics USA TV site to watch our Video. The editing, video, interview team from Equip2Endure really know what they’re doing; and they created a great promo piece for us. Thanks, Guys!

Between the KNOWPHEST and the Self Reliance EXPO we also added another component to our Food Forever™ Growing System Series, which are insulating skins made out of Double Bubble Foil Insulation. It gives our systems a high tech look and feel while adding warmth to both the Grow Beds and the Fish Tanks. Below is a photo of Fred, our Systems Builder and Installer, placing the new skins on our FFGS-20 Demo System. The next picture is of our completed Exhibit as it looked from the Main Stage. We had a perfect location; and since we were the only booth in the EXPO that used EZ-Ups, we were impossible to miss. We heard through the grapevine that there were over a thousand people at the EXPO, which really isn’t that big of a turnout; but we were so busy we hardly had time to eat. We gave out every System Flyer we printed, every Brochure and ended up hoarse from talking so much. We were definitely a big hit; and we went away wondering how we would deal with a 5,000 or 10,000 strong crowd, which, by the way, turned out in the Utah Self Reliance EXPO.

As I explained in my previous post, there’s a movement happening called the Prepper Movement; and it’s all about getting and being prepared for whatever disaster, natural or manmade, that may be coming in the future. There are literally millions of Americans actively involved in this movement. To date, over 4 million Americans self identify as Preppers. The Self Reliance Expo and the several other Expos listed in our previous post are proof positive that Preppers are here to stay and are offering interesting out of the ordinary, creative, off-the-grid products for their fellows in the marketplace. These products meet needs for being self reliant and independent in the areas where survival is the most important including Food, Energy, Shelter and Water.

This explains why Aquaponics USA was so intriguing to this clientele. We offer something in the realm of becoming more Food Independent that goes beyond stored food, which is what most vendors catering to Preppers are offering. We believe a combination of both stored food and food you grow yourself are important to insure food security in uncertain times.We offer Food Forever™ Growing Systems that are Survival Food Growing Systems, which with added Grow Lights,  can grow food in a basement, a garage, a spare room or an enclosed back porch. And, of course, what’s growing isn’t just veggies. It also includes protein in the form of fish. And once we get our Solar Systems hooked up to our Growing Systems, which won’t be too far in the future, Greenhouse growing will appeal all the more to this new, savy customer.

As we shared in a previous post, our first Fish & Veggie Road Show was in Los Angeles. The clientele and the venue of that Show was very different from the Self Reliance EXPO; but nevertheless, a comparison can be made. Most of the people who came into our Booth in LA did not have a clue as to what Aquaponics was; and we introduced them to the concept. Not so at the Self Reliance EXPO. There, very few of the people who came into our Booth did not already know what Aquaponics food growing technology was. Of course, many had never seen an operating system, so seeing ours was very exciting; and they appreciated the embellishments on their basic concepts that we had to offer.

What we discovered in Mesa, AZ is that Preppers are intelligent, well-informed and determined to not be victims of the next disaster, whatever it may be. One way or another, they’ve given up on the false, albeit comforting, belief that the government will be able to save them when TSHTF. They are putting their money behind their belief that they have to be able to save themselves and their families. Prepping is almost a religion. It has a fervor, drive and enthusiasm behind it that is contagious.

Check the Self Reliance EXPO website for their 2013 Show Schedule. The EXPO offers way more than a unique line up of Vendors. It also offers classes in subjects like “Suturing/Stapling Hands-On Lab”, “Preparing and Using Nature’s Medicine”, “Bread Baking” and “Soap Making Demystified” to name just a few. The EXPO also offers Guest Speakers who share information on everything from “How To Sprout Seeds” to the state of the U.S. Economy to how to be your own Doctor or Dentist when one isn’t available. Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy were two such featured speakers. Their website, Doom and Bloom™ Nation is full of life-saving information that we would all need in a national disaster.

The following photos create a collage of a few our fellow entrepreneurs who exhibited at the Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, AZ. Under the photos or before the photos is the link to their websites should you care to learn more about them. Many of these Exhibitors did all the venues of these EXPOs, which concluded their 2012 Tour with the Mesa Show. So here comes the Line Up of some of the Self Reliance EXPO Exhibitors offering products in the first important survival category, FOOD, starting with yours truly, Aquaponics USA.

And here’s the link to our website at www.aquaponicsusa.com

Here are a few of the Food Storage Exhibitors.

And here’s the link to the Thrive website.

And here’s the link to the Grandma’s Country Foods and other important survival products.

And here’s the link to Survival Cave.

And here’s the link to Noah’s Pantry.

And here’s the link to Go Foods.

As we explained earlier, we were so busy we barely had time to eat, so believe me, we didn’t see much of this EXPO on this trip. We had every intention of rubbing shoulders with our fellow exhibitors and we did; but it all happened in our Booth as we explained what we were up to. Oliver did a quick run through the EXPO to shoot these photos; but we can’t tell you much about our fellow vendors. If you find that the time has come for you to start  storing food, check out these websites. We haven’t tried any of their products (although we plan to) and can’t give recommendations, this is just a place to start your exploration into becoming more Food Independent. By the way, if you Google “Food Independent”, you will get Aquaponics USA.

On to the next important survival topic, Water; and we only have one water purification system company for you to look at. This company is advertising on every Prepper website on the net; so it was no surprise it was exhibiting in Mesa. It’s the Berkey Water Purification System

Next comes Energy and an innovative company featuring compact-powerful, renewable-energy solar power generators that are built in the good old USA. This company is called ARK SOLAR SYSTEMS. Like so many of the entrepreneurs in this EXPO, it’s a family company that came up with this idea in order to solve a problem for itself–how to have a reliable energy source while camping. Again, we discovered this while chatting with them in our Booth rather than theirs. If you’re interested in a compact solar powered generator, check out their website.

There’s a second solar company we want to mention called GO Solar. It features a variety of portable solar power packs.

Now, on to Land and Shelter, two other very important survival necessities. Due to low lighting conditions the photo below is quite blurry; but you get the idea of how roomy a yurt can be. This company, Groovy Yurts, is building some of the most eye-catching, versatile and easy to assemble shelters on the planet. Made to resist extreme climates, this circular domed abode is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Easily dismantled, the yurt is portable and self-supporting. Check them out at Groovy Yurts.com.

Need some land to put your Groovy Yurt on? Check out Rivers Edge. One plus acre plots in Arizona on the Verde River and backed up to a National Forest. This land is in the cool Ponderosa Pines at 5,500 ft. We’re not sure how yurts do in the snow. Go to the Groovy Yurt website to find out.Here’s the opposite of a yurt for shelter. Instead of cloth, it’s made of steel and it goes underground instead of on top of it. If you had one of these at Rivers Edge, no one would know it. Take the virtual tour of the ATLAS on the ATLAS SURVIVAL SHELTERS Website. We actually took a few minutes to tour the one that sat outside the entrance to the Mesa Convention Center. It was very interesting. Below are a couple of photos of the exterior and the interior of an ATLAS.

This company was our immediate neighbor, the Homestead General Store, that offered everything from soup to nuts and more. You can actually see our tent tops on the left side of the picture below. We’re posting two pictures of the Homestead General Store because the hand grinding mills are quite literally works of art from a time that many believe is not gone.

Hope you enjoyed your virtual attendance at the recent Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, Arizona. We plan to take you on a lot more of these Reliance EXPO Tours in 2013. If you want to know more about the Prepper Movement, be sure to read our previous post and look into joining the new website called PreppersPost where you’ll get lots of information about this Movement and remember, IT’S TIME TO GROW FOOD SO GET GROWING!

What’s a Prepper??? Hint: It isn’t a soda.

On the local front, sadly us Californians rejected the proposition that would label bodily destructive GMO’s. On the national front, a man in Orlando is fighting to keep his vegetable garden that is against city ordinance because it’s in his front yard. Ironically, the FEMA office on Staten Island closed due to weather on November 7th while, overall, more than 139,000 Staten Island households were affected by hurricane Sandy.There were 80,000 New York-area customers still lacking power Tuesday night, November 6th, more than a week after Sandy hit that coastal area according to Con Edison, New York City’s largest utility company.

Meanwhile way down south in Argentina, the power went out for an extended period of time due to the opposite weather conditions–it was too hot and high demand caused two high voltage lines to fail. Even the Congress building and presidential palace went dark.

What’s wrong with this broad stroke picture? Everything.

What’s coming that can correct this wrong course for our country and the world? A movement of huge proportions. It’s called the Prepper Movement.

And it’s taking the US, in particular, by storm.The Prepper Movement is a truly grassroots movement that is uniting people of all countries, ages, ethnic groups and religions into one ever growing mass of people who have come to realize they cannot depend on their Governments. They know that they can’t rely on government to protect the country’s food integrity from unscrupulous corporate greed or save them in a time of crisis. They have also come to believe they need to be able to feed themselves and fend for themselves when faced with an interruption to their modern way of life no matter what the cause. They understand our newly acquired civilized existence is too dependent on forces beyond their own autonomy and ingenuity.

Why am I saying it is newly acquired? Because homes in U.S. cities have only had electricity since 1930, and only 10% of the people in rural communities had it at that early date. Although Supermarkets started in the U.S. in the 20’s and 30’s, they didn’t become dominant until after World War II in the 1950’s. Why are supermarkets vulnerable? Because Supermarkets depend completely on a functioning trucking industry, which, in turn, depends completely on plenty of economical fuel; and that depends on a fully functioning electrical power grid.

Now, most of the world is dependent on outside sources for both food and energy. Those outside sources aren’t providing healthy, nutritious food or reliable energy. It’s a very vulnerable interlocking network that is subject to all kinds of natural or manmade disasters including solar flares or terrorist attacks on the grid. Ask the folks in New Jersey, New York and Virginia about how that inter-dependent network is working out right about now; as gas stations closed due to power outages causing lines that are five hours long in the few remaining open stations.

There are three major areas where Preppers (which is an abbreviation of the word Preparing) are becoming self sufficient. The most important factors for sustaining life are Food, Water and Energy, and that’s where Preppers are focusing their time, effort and money. Besides online networks, like the ones pictured and linked above, Preppers are flocking to EXPOS that are popping up across the U.S.

Our next Blog post will feature one of those venues, the Self Reliance EXPO. Here, upcoming entrepreneurs and savy customers networked together in this new marketplace that is launching out of the box and off the grid products. These products offer healthy alternatives, convenience, safety and peace of mind to the growing number of people who know the really big crash is still coming. This coming crash tsunami threatens the power grid, food security and food safety, which has already been violated by the emergence and full acceptance of GMO’s by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But before we get specific, let’s go wide with a list of all the Prepper/Survivalist Expos out there including: Arizona Survivalist/Prepper, Get Prepared Expo, Prepare & Survive EXPO, The Home Safety Prep Tour, Kansas Prepper EXPO, Sustainable  Preparedness, The Great Utah Emergency Preparedness Expo, National Preppers & Survivalists EXPO, and the Self Reliance Expo.

There wouldn’t be a growing list of EXPO’s like the ones above if there weren’t a growing list of Preppers to attend the EXPO’s and growing interest in the subject of prepping. There also wouldn’t be two new TV series out on the national networks including National Geographic’s “Doomsday Preppers”,  a reality show focused on Preppers across the nation and the fictional NBC hit, “Revolution” about a U.S. without a power grid where rebels fight for the flag.

Every time there’s a national disaster like hurricane Sandy or another GMO crop becomes approved by the U.S. Food Czar and ex-Monsanto Lawyer, Michael Taylor, the Preppers population grows exponentially. Thousands will be added to the Prepper roles in the near future compliments of Sandy alone.

Check back with us soon for the post featuring the Self Reliance Expo that happened in late October in Mesa, AZ. We’ll introduce you to some of the up-coming businesses that are being launched by Preppers for Preppers, which, by the way, includes Aquaponics USA. These businesses won’t be the ones going bust in 2013. They will be the ones growing as this gigantic wave of American entrepreneurism coupled with the Prepper Movement comes to shore. See you again soon.

Packing for and Traveling to our 2nd Fish and Veggie Road Show in Mesa, Arizona!

This post is all about packing and traveling about five hours with Live Fish. We were heading for the Self Reliance EXPO in Mesa, AZ and were crossing the state line into Arizona so we didn’t take the veggies and had to purchase and plant veggies once we got to Arizona. In a way, this is a tutorial about how to travel with Live Fish. We learned a lot in our first Fish & Veggie Road Show to the KNOWPHEST in Los Angeles as we lost a couple of fish. This time all of our fish arrived safe and sound. Here’s what we did differently.

The first thing we did was we stopped feeding our fish a couple of days prior to transporting them. Unlike mammals, fish can easily handle not eating for a couple of days. The reason that’s important is that with empty stomachs, they won’t pollute their traveling water with their own waste and tox themselves out. Once they are at the Show, their waste will be converted to nitrates by the friendly bacteria in the biofilter that is the Grow Bed with plants in it.

The next thing we did differently is we took two traveling tanks instead of one. In our first Fish & Veggie Show, we put the big fish in with the fingerlings and two of the fingerlings didn’t make the trip. We don’t know what happened; but figured the safer way to protect the little ones was to not mix them together in one tank.

The next thing we did that was different is we added a Titanium Heater to their traveling tanks to get their water temperature up to the levels that they are used to and like. The first picture below shows Oliver hooking the Titanium Heaters to their two traveling tanks. The second picture shows the heater and the box it comes in. This is a really great little electric water heater that really does the job. We sell two of them, one is a 200 Watt Heater and the other is a 300 Watt Heater. They are both on our website Here. At the Show, the 300 Watt  Heater kept our 120 gallon fish tank at a cozy 76 degrees for our fish. The third picture shows the temperature rising as the Titanium Heaters heat up the water prior to our putting the fish in their traveling tanks.

Of course we also had aeration using our favorite 4″ Aerators that you can also find on our Accessories Page and using our Air Pumps that you can find on our Pumps Page.  Fish can’t survive without it. We bought inverters and had a backup battery pack that ran the heaters and the air pumps during the times that we stopped on the road to eat and take bathroom breaks. The photos above show the two air pumps sitting in front of the traveling fish tanks.

The important thing that makes these traveling tanks is they have lids on them. The lids are important to keep the water in the tanks and not on the bed of the Honda Pilot. However, driving behavior must be adjusted to keep the water in the traveling tanks even when they have lids. We ended up having to turn around and go home to get yet another back up inverter when we first took off at 4 AM and sloshed a lot of water into the bed of the Honda killing our original inverter. Traveling with fish is, indeed, tricky.

The final new thing we did to make traveling safer and more comfortable for the fish was we covered the traveling tanks with a blanket while the heaters went to work heating their water. Then we slept for a few hours before hitting the road. The total amount of time that the fish were in their traveling tanks was about 24 hours, which was a long time; but they did fine due to all of the extra precautions we took this time.

We were able to reduce the number of cars it took to carry everything needed for our Show down to two cars because we added a trailer, which the truck towed. Here’s the cartoon image of our Fish & Veggie Road Show followed by an actual picture of our Tacoma with its trailer.

Here’s a picture of what was packed in front of the traveling tanks in the very convenient bed of the Honda Pilot. We definitely jam packed both vehicles and the trailer. But once again, the result was impressive.

Watch for our next post which will be all about what happened once we got to the Self Reliance EXPO. It was such a scene. We so appreciate being able to take you on the  ride with us as we share how important Aquaponics is in this challenging 21st Century. See you again, soon.

Our Aquaponics USA Fish and Veggie Road Show!

Our Fish & Veggie Road ShowWe just did our first Fish & Veggie Road Show and what an experience that was. Getting our act together to go on the road was a way bigger job than we ever imagined it would be; but the result was impressive. We think we may be the first and only Aquaponics business that is doing shows and now we know why. It’s a lot of hard work. As a multi-media artist, I (Grace) did Arts & Craft Shows for many years selling a hand-crafted jewelry line, photography and even a line of resort wear. So I know what it’s like doing road shows; but I’ve never done a road show that was this challenging. Our set up took us one full day and a night; and our tear down took a full eight hours. EGAD! And “Yes”, we need to make it easier. But the experience was great. We introduced Aquaponics USA’s Food Forever™ Growing Systems to lots of amazed and curious Californians. Below are three photos of the 3 vehicles it took to get our set up to the Los Angeles Design Center. If we keep doing Shows, we’re going to need a big Truck because packing and unpacking these three vehicles was very time consuming.

It’s amazing how many people in California still haven’t even heard the word, Aquaponics; but our aim is to change that; and we started changing that this past weekend, October 12-14, 2012, at the first annual KNOWPHEST in Los Angeles. The KNOWPHEST was billed as the place to go to learn what you didn’t know you didn’t know; and Aquaponics USA fit perfectly into that unusual theme because most of the people who saw our Exhibit had never even heard the word, “Aquaponics”, before they entered our space. The KNOWPHEST featured an eclectic group of Exhibitors and Lecturers including the famous artist couple Alex Grey and Allyson Grey. Alex showed his mural-sized original works from the famed Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. These paintings were awe inspiring as I had only seen them in photos. You may recognize the image below entitled “Praying” as it has been featured in lots of venues.

And we prayed a lot as we traveled up the Interstate 10 to Los Angeles from the High Desert above Palm Springs. Mostly we were praying that our live fish and plants would make the trip and stay that way, alive, as this was our first experience of moving fish and plants in vehicles.

Among the various Exhibitors at the KNOWPHEST who were selling everything from  jewelry to portable saunas, Aquaponics USA was a real phenomenon; and we were thanked and congratulated over and over for being there and introducing the people of Los Angeles to the concept of sustainable food growing systems that can be set up in a backyard, garage, basement or school room. And, of course the stars of our Show were the fish. Below is a photo of our baby Tilapia happily swimming around in their fish tank that is part of our new Plug In & Grow Indoor System, the FFGS-C5. In the second photo below, you see a complete shot of this Compact Indoor Food Forever™ Growing System that comes with a Grow Light, Grow Bed, Fish Tank with heater and miniature automatic fish feeder. The third photo in this series is our Modular FFGS-20  Food Forever™ Growing System that housed our adult Tilapia.

It’s one thing to preach to the choir, which is the same as staying home and waiting for people to become aware of the importance of Aquaponics in whatever way that happens and then Googling the word and discovering us on Page 1. It’s an entirely different thing to go out to Shows and awaken people to the existence of Aquaponics and then educate them on the spot about how important it is to their food security and health. That’s what’s happening in these Shows; and that’s what makes it so exciting. So many people expressed their gratitude about being awakened to this life and environment sustaining way to grow food. They were really excited to discover Aquaponics and we were excited to have an Exhibit that could serve in this way. It was such a win/win experience that it made all the hard work worth while. Below are a series of shots of our Exhibit at the KNOWPHEST starting with our “Welcome” Sign. The second photo is of our new Certification Trademark. We’re creating a way to Certify vegetables and fish that are grown aquaponically; and we’re calling it “Aquaganic”.

We even had a Literature Table with five informative double-sided flyers besides our Brochure. One of the flyers entitled “Why Aquaponics? Why Now? has a full back page explanation of what Aquaponics is and why it’s so important in the 21st Century. On the small table behind the literature table is our flat-screen TV where we continuously ran DVD’s of our YouTube Videos.

This Show wanted to attract the Los Angeles Night Scene so we were open quite late at night . Here is a shot of our Exhibit at night.

We had to make a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to the KNOWPHEST (while keeping our fish well aerated using an inverter and in-tank aerators), which were in the back of the Honda Pilot.

Before going on to our next Show, we want to extend a special “Thank You” to Caleb Bartlett and Allen Sovory II, promoters of the KNOWPHEST, for inviting and encouraging us to do this Show. Without your encouragement and the KNOWPHEST venue, we never would have put this Exhibit together and discovered how fun and exciting it is to be the clarion callers for Aquaponics USA out there on the streets and in the Convention Halls of America. Thank You, guys, for putting on a great Show and being so accommodating and helpful.

Our next adventure to Mesa, AZ will be a little more challenging as we’ll be traveling for over six hours while keeping our fish and our plants alive. This Show is happening at the Mesa, AZ Convention Center on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 & 27. It’s called the Self Reliance Expo and is a first year Show in that location and one of a series being promoted under this title in various locations across the Nation. If you’re in Arizona, tell your friends to come out and see a phenomenon whose time has come–an Aquaponics USA Road Show.

See you at the Self Reliance Expo in Mesa, AZ and thank you for following our blog and visiting our virtual first Road Show. We’re so pleased to be able to share this adventure with you.

Aquaponics USA “Chef’s Special Living Lettuce” FOR SALE!

In our last post, we showed you all the lettuce we were growing in our Greenhouse. Here’s another view of how much lettuce we’re talking about.Grace with Cooler Full of Chef's Special Living Romaine Lettuce

Grace is holding up a Cooler full of lettuce; and this is the first Cooler full. So far we’ve delivered two of these Coolers full of lettuce all packaged up real fancy to none other than the best Health Food Store in the high desert. That’s right–Sue’s Health Food Store. Sue’s Health Foods has been selling healthy food since 1984 and is dedicated to their customer’s good health while offering service with heart. They’ve just started a facebook page where they’ll be posting all kinds of fun and exciting adventures around health.Sue's Health Foods Store Front

If you’re lucky enough to live in the high desert above Palm Springs in Morongo, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree or 29 Palms go on over to Sue’s Health Foods Store and pick up a head of delicious Living Counter Romaine, Butter Lettuce or Red Romaine. They’re in her Cooler next to the Bunny Love Organic Carrots.Chef's Special Living Romaine Lettuce in Sue's Cooler

As far as we know, Aquaponics USA is the only company offering Living Red Romaine Lettuce and Counter Romaine Lettuce. There’s even one head of Living Red Oak Lettuce in that cooler for all you Red Oak Lettuce lovers. There are several companies offering Living Butter Lettuce. Our Living Butter Lettuce is so beautiful it could be a Bridal Bouquet in a Greenie June Wedding. So what’s “Living Lettuce”? Living Lettuce is lettuce that is still attached to the roots, which means it’s about as fresh as it gets.

When we introduced Sue to the concept of Aquaponics, she was really taken by it. Seems Aquaponics affects people that way. They either get it or they don’t. When they get it, it makes a real impression. There are a lot of people “getting” Aquaponics these days. Once Sue tasted our Lettuce, the deal was sealed. Even bolting lettuce grown aquaponically (we call it “Aquaganic™”) still tastes good. But because she practices what she preaches and is really concerned with her customer’s health, she made a site visit to check out our growing environment and, of course, see the live fish that make it all possible.

Below is a picture of Sue standing behind the Grow Bed we featured in our last post, the one full of Red Romaine Lettuce. This is the lettuce you saw in the Cooler above and the lettuce we packaged up to send to her Health Foods Store.Sue of Sue's Health Foods Store behind Grow Bed #4 verticle

Now, you’ll recognize her when you see her in the store, which is often so say “Hi” and tell her how photogenic she is. And remember to hurry down to her store to pick up your head of Aquaponics USA Chef’s Special Living Lettuce.Chef's Special Living Lettuce Bouquet

Because we’re not high volume growers (far from it), our brand will not always be available at Sue’s Health Food Store, so get it while you can. You can’t miss our patriotic packaging and our Logo with the Chef and Live Tilapia on it.  Tell them we sent you.

See you at Sue’s Health Foods Store.

What’s Happening in the Aquaponics USA Greenhouse

It’s been a while since we’ve shared pictures and stories of what’s happening in our Greenhouse; and right about now, things are really starting to pop.  The picture below shows Grow Bed #4 full of Red Romaine Lettuce. In the background, you can see some basil drying and a blurred image of our packaging Logo.Red Romaine in Grow Bed #4 Greenhouse

Below are close ups of a couple of those heads of beautiful Red Romaine. They are really delicious and ready to harvest. They are sitting next to our Automatic Fish Feeders that feed our Tilapia four times a day.

Besides Red Romaine, we’re also growing another kind of Romaine Lettuce called Counter Romaine. It’s pictured in the photo below. Counter Romaine has been adapted especially for Greenhouse growing and is heat tolerant. Since we’re in the desert, we can always use heat tolerant veggies, so we thought we’d try it. It’s doing really well and tastes delicious. Even the stems are sweet. On the left side of the photo is some Butter Lettuce mixed in with the Counter Romaine. Our Butter Lettuce is also doing really well and growing like weeds in our Food Forever™ Growing Systems.Butter Lettuce, Counter Romain and Corn in Grow Bed #5 Greenhouse

Besides Lettuce, we’re also growing some corn; and you can see it in the back of Grow Bed #5 in the above picture. We didn’t intend to grow corn in our Greenhouse as we felt it would be too tall. But while we were waiting for our protective screening to be put around our outdoor garden, which is next to our Greenhouse, we temporarily placed the corn seedlings into this Grow Bed so they would survive. They’ve survived alright and are now growing up to the roof. I’ll show you more pictures of the corn in a future post. We’re curious as to how well it will do; and will probably just leave it in the Grow Bed even though our protective screening is almost up.

If you’re familiar with the high desert, you know there are a lot of critters here, which add to the charm of our magical desert world. When we first moved here (and before we were adopted by two feral cats), we befriended and fed the wild ones. The picture below is one of many that we’ve taken of the wild ones including grey squirrels, antelope squirrels and cotton tails. Lunch date Bunny and Squirrel

But once we got the cats and then started gardening, the wild ones became a bit of a nuisance, especially the grey squirrels. They pretty much destroyed our outdoor garden last year. Hence the new protective fence.

In Grow Bed #2 below, we have that famous group of Pepper Plants that just keep putting out Peppers season after season. They have pretty much over taken that Grow Bed.Peppers in Bed #2 Greenhouse

Except, as you can see below, some Basil managed to squeeze it’s way into that bed this spring.Basil in Bed #2 Greenhouse

Last season’s eggplant came back to life and is putting out lovely fruit. Speaking of Eggplant, I think I’ll make Eggplant Parmesan tonight.Egg Plant, Basil and Peppers in Bed #2 Greenhouse

In that case, I need to wind up this post and get picking and cooking. Thanks for visiting. We really appreciate your support. My next post is going to tell you where you can go to purchase our delicious aquaponically grown Lettuce that we call “Aquaganic™”. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the little high desert towns above Palm Springs, CA. you’ll recognize this store right away. We can only supply one store, so we chose the best. Bet you can’t guess which one it is?

Until then, Get Growing!