Finding the heart of someone is seen many times over through their actions. Nancy Paul, with MorningStar Missions, has not only said, but she has proven it by what she has done and is doing in Honduras.
Article by: CERES Greenhouse Solutions
Some quick tips taken from our e-book – Designing an Energy-Efficient Aquaponics Greenhouse. You can download that for free here and get more info, floor plans and strategies for making the most out of your greenhouse investment.
1. Place grow beds in sunlight; fish tanks in shadier areas
If fish tanks are in direct light they can easily get too hot during the day, lowering the dissolved oxygen in the water, which can kill fish. Fish tanks are much easier to heat than to cool, so it’s imperative to avoid overheating your tanks. Plus, if tanks are uncovered, direct light on the water can facilitate unwanted algae growth.
Of course, you’ll want to place all grow beds in maximum light for optimal year-round growing (particularly to increase production in the winter). For this reason, passive solar greenhouses – ones that have an insulated north wall, and glazing facing the South – are a perfect fit for aquaponics systems. Tanks will stay more stable temperature-wise against the North wall, the greenhouse will be a warmer year-round environment overall, and beds will get full light. You can see some example floor plans of how this looks, on our Aquaponics Greenhouses page.
2. Insulate your greenhouse
Or, more broadly, create a super energy-efficient greenhouse that minimizes temperature fluctuations. This is a good strategy when dealing with any greenhouse, but particularly important in an aquaponics greenhouse, where you not only want to keep the air temperature and root temperatures stable, but the fish tanks as well.
If in cold climates, using a hardier fish species like perch or koi that don’t require warm water temps will reduce heating costs. However, remember that an average uninsulated and unheated greenhouse will be the same temperature inside as outside. That means if it’s 20 degrees outside, it will be 20 degrees inside and you could have dead plants or worse, an ice block of frozen fish. People traditionally overcome this by heating the greenhouse, but these are extra yearly costs that add up. In many areas, traditional greenhouses aren’t used through the winter because the heating expenses make it cost prohibitive.
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If you asked anyone that knows my wife, "What do you think of when you hear Nancy and ministry?" They would immediately say, "Children."
Nancy and I are excited to share with you about Ripple 2021; this campaign is for Honduras' children we minister to in the surrounding communities. We will be kicking it off on February 22nd. It is allowing everyone to be a part of ministering to the children. Ultimately, we will raise funds needed to equip and supply the community churches to minister to the children.
Interesting facts (below) about Nancy's children's ministry, not only is she diligent in working the plan of God over her life; she is an excellent ground to sow your seed into to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. See the attachment for her plan and vision for 2021.
• 26 communities we are ministering in = 308 children
• 3 schools we are ministering in = 190 children
• 26 children’s ministers being taught and equipped
• 44 Missionaries in Central America being emailed children's curriculum
Nancy's Vision for the Children's Ministry in 2021
Why are the children of Honduras Important?
Every child is important to God; all deserve the opportunity to learn and embrace his Holy Word.
However, Honduras is a country that lacks opportunities for children, limiting them to only learn about certain subjects in their public school that is solely up to 8th grade, which not many of them can afford to attend. We believe that it is vital to help children see their abilities, and when they trust and work with God, their abilities have no limitations. God can make a significant impact in their lives, giving them the hope of a better life in him. That is why we want to provide the best biblical education to the children, encourage them to be better, and expand their opportunities in God. TO READ THE REST - CLICK "Read More"
I trust many of you are getting ready for the growing season. Some have shelved the ebook and didn't build anything as of yet. It's never too late to start. Also, I know some are in different seasons due to being in Australia or other countries south of the equator.
This blog post is just a review here for many. I want to discuss two vital elements of the aquaponics system: grow bed media and water. The grow bed medium is the plant environment, while the water is the fish. It's a must that we maintain both properly. If there are issues in one, it will manifest in the other.
With any grow media, you want to make sure that it is chemically inert and can't affect the water's pH. I have a video on testing grow media with vinegar to ensure it's pH neutral. Testing with vinegar is a common practice, especially with gravel. The reason is that limestone can be present; this will drive the water's pH up, hindering the system. The majority of the time, gravel, lava rock, and many river stones are pH neutral.
Your water should be pure and clean. Don't use water from a river, pond, etc. It should not have chlorine or any other chemicals. Suppose it is from a local municipality and it does have chlorine. In that case, you need to dechlorinate it by using a liquid dechlorinator or letting it sit out in the sun in an open container for 24 hours. It will naturally evaporate out of the water. After doing so, then you can add it to the system. The water pH needs to be close to 7 as possible. If your water's pH is high or low, you can purchase fish tank pH liquid regulator. Also, you can use things such as vinegar or iron sulfate fertilizer to adjust the pH. I would recommend putting some water in a 5-gallon bucket. Adjust the pH there. Then transpose the dosage to the size of your aquaponic system.
Before closing, if any of you need any nutrients for your system and can order products from the USA, I would highly recommend contacting "The True Aquaponics Store." Roger and his wife are great people, and they are there to help you!
As many of you know, MorningStar Aquaponics also has a mission ministry in Honduras. From the aquaponic community of aquaponics, I get occasional people asking about our work. Here is our update for the year 2020.
As we all know, the pandemic hit every aspect of our society. All had to adapt to it in some form or fashion. Here at MorningStar Missions in Honduras, it was challenging due to the government restrictions. Many will be reading this from several different countries, and your perspective will be different from a person from another country. Honduras made all people stay in their homes. You could only leave once every two weeks for groceries and other needs such as medicine. If you were caught outside of your home, you could face fines and even jail time. You had to have a special pass from the government to even drive to the next town. These strict rules went on for approximately four months. As time went by, they loosened the restrictions. Today, we have freedom of movement, with a minimal amount of governmental controls.
Early in the pandemic, we could get ministry passes that permitted us a little more activity as long as we helped the community. We decided to start a feeding program; this enabled us to help those in immediate need because there was no way for people to earn an income. Honduras is, for the most part, a society that works today and eats today. Our feeding program was a great success to help make an immediate impact on those in need. To this day, we are still identifying families that need assistance with food.
Then we come to the two hurricanes that hit Honduras and Nicaragua within two weeks, Eta and Iota. Who would ever have thought this could occur? Well, it did here. Sadly, it has made a significant impact on the country of Honduras. There are tens of thousands of people without homes; communities have been wiped out to the point that the government says they can't rebuild in those places. The economic impact will be felt for years to come.
Fortunately, we experienced a minimal impact on our area of the country compared to other places. We had power outages, loss of internet access, cell towers went down, landslides, roads washed out, and even two bridges were damaged. The local government reacted quickly and was able to restore everything within a week. Some roads took a little longer. Today, for the most part, in our area, we are back to normal.
Through all the interesting things that have taken place in 2020, I can say this, Jesus Christ is still Lord and on the throne. Here at MorningStar Missions, we will continually keep our eyes on him. We are looking forward to 2021 and continuing the work of the Lord for our lives. Blessings to you all!
Final note, some of you have donated financially to MorningStar Missions over the years. We greatly appreciate that! Blessings to all!
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When you think of Wisconsin, you don’t think of salmon? Or leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, etc. I think of dairy cows and cheese!
That is all changing with the rapidly growing new form of farming called aquaponics. Head down Interstate 94 at night and follow the glowing purple lights from the 1,100 LED grow lights. Trust me; you will turn your head and think, “What the heck?” The facility is run like NASA, but they won’t be sending any rockets up in space soon but be shipping fresh greens and salmon to their local grocers and distributors in the masses.
Along with the greenhouse is a replicated North Atlantic Ocean 1-acre fish house. Thousands up thousands of salmon ranging from newly hatched eggs brought in from Iceland to 10 pounds after two years of growth. They are raised in 22,000-gallon tanks filled with freshwater drawn from a 180-foot well.
At this time, 95 percent of the Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. is mostly imported from Norway and Chile. About 90 percent of the lettuce grown in the U.S. comes from California and Arizona, produced by traditional farming methods.
According to Superior Fresh, they are the largest aquaponics facility. “This is a pioneering facility that’s breaking all the molds,” said Steve Summerfelt, an aquaculture systems expert and the chief science officer for Superior Fresh. “We’re truly disrupting food systems.”
The financial backers of this project are Todd Wanek, the CEO of Ashley Furniture, and his wife, Karen. They have put millions of dollars of support to ensure their success.
Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. The water is circulated from the fish tanks into the greenhouse to help the plants to grow. Some will say jokingly say; that fish poo equals plant power and provides the plants’ nutrients. Then the water is recirculated back to the fish tanks. The beautiful thing is, it’s all certified organic with no pesticides, growth hormones, or other additives.
Another well-known fact about aquaponics is that it requires less land and water than conventional food production methods. It also increases plant growth rates and allows year-round production.
This $17 million-dollar facility is only the beginning for Superior Fresh. They are planning on a $10 million-dollar expansion project. They will double the size of the greenhouse and add automation to harvest and package. There are plans to add another fish house with around 100,000 gallons that can raise five times more salmon than currently being raised.
The future goal is to develop even more extensive facilities on the east and west coasts that could be twice the size of Wisconsin’s current location providing fresh greens and salmon to millions of people.
Because of the controlled environment, Superior Fresh can ensure cleanliness, including bio-security, to prevent crop contamination. Food safety is a primary concern, especially with recent scares with e-coli outbreaks with romaine lettuce.
“I think it’s a natural progression of the industry,” said Chris Hartleb, a fisheries biology professor at UW-Stevens Point and co-director of the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility in Bayfield. “They went for a very high-valued fish in salmon. Brandon’s challenge is that when you’re the first of a kind, there’s no one to show you the way. He’s inventing both an inland Atlantic salmon culture and tying it into plants’ growth. So, there’s a couple of technical hurdles he has to jump over and figure out.”
The building of the Superior Fresh aquaponics facilities began in 2015. The company sold its first package lettuce in 2017, and the Atlantic salmon was in July 2018. They built another greenhouse in 2018, and it went online in May 2019. The second fish house was to start construction in 2020.
The company is studying ways of greater efficiency, such as solar panels to add to the systems’ power. The main goal is to fine-tune the operations for a greater level of profitability by further automation. “We have great food, a great team, and a production facility that can be (replicated) across the country,” said Summerfelt. “We’ve developed technology to work within the regulatory framework. We have zero surface water discharge, and that’s a compelling statement.”
The Superior Fresh system contains around 850,000 gallons of water in the greenhouse. There are interior and exterior weather stations that talk to each other. A computerized system will open and close roof vents to help regulate the temperatures. For example, recently, the outside temperatures were in the mid-20’s, the greenhouse temperatures were 76 degrees. During the polar vortex, interior temperatures dropped to the upper 50’s.
Over 40 varieties of greens are grown, some on an experimental basis. Around a dozen, types are sold to local retail outlets or distributors in the Wisconsin area. Atlantic salmon and steelhead salmon are shipped whole and on ice to Festival Foods, Trig’s, and restaurants in western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities.
Growing salmon provides a higher rate of return compared to input costs from other meats raised in Wisconsin. With beef, it takes about 10 pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat. A pig needs five pounds of feed to create a pound of pork, while poultry requires three pounds of feed for a pound of meat, Gottsacker said. At Superior Fresh, it takes 1.1 pounds of feed to get one pound of salmon.
“Then you take the waste from that fish, and the water that it grows in is full of nutrients, and we’re growing another 10 pounds of produce,” Gottsacker said. “So, it’s one pound of fish food into the system and 10 to 11 pounds of fish and plants out, which is cool. It’s much, much more efficient.”
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