Fluid Farms is building a commercial-scale greenhouse that will employ an aquaponic* model to produce fresh, environmentally-friendly fish and high quality produce for local restaurants and markets.
*What is aquaponics?
Basically, it is a symbiotic merger of aquaculture (raising fish and other aquatic animals in tanks) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). It is an extremely sustainable system because the fish waste (nutrients) is not dumped into the environment but rather happily used by the plants, which serve as filters so that clean, oxygenated water can be recirculated back to the fish. Fluid Farms has become a regional model of aquaponics and source of information for others interested in developing such systems.
Fluid Farms – Growing Hard Since 2010
Born purely out of interest and the desire to take action, Fluid Farms started our journey of aquaponic farming by breeding tilapia and growing tomatoes in the winter of 2010 in Tyler’s apartment. Greenhouse 1.0, built in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, was constructed in the summer of 2011 using reclaimed materials including a carport, IBC tote fish tanks, and rain gutter hydroponic grow channels. This tiny 250-square foot greenhouse produced far more vegetables and tilapia than we could consume ourselves, so the extras went to Portland markets, friends, and co-workers. The spring of 2012 ushered in Greenhouse 1.1, which doubled our growing capacity and enabled us to produce hundreds of pounds of fresh produce for local restaurants and markets… and turn a profit. Given our success and the overwhelming appreciation for our high quality products Fluid Farms is moving forward with plans to build and operate a commercial-scale greenhouse – Greenhouse 2.0.
Powered by the momentum of the past two years of operation, we fully committed to an expansion with the purchase of a production-scale 2,600-square foot greenhouse in the summer of 2012. We plan to move into Greenhouse 2.0 this spring and need your support to be on track to producing fish and greens by the early summer. At 100 feet long and outfitted with four large fish tanks and two 80-foot hydroponic rafts, Greenhouse 2.0 is designed to produce 150 lbs of fish and 1,500 lbs of gourmet greens and culinary herbs on a monthly basis. The produce will be harvested regularly, delivering the freshest food to local markets and restaurants. Greenhouse 2.0 will have a heating system and extensive insulation enabling Fluid Farms to operate year-round and provide fresh food during the loooong Maine winter when fresh, locally-grown produce is harder to come by. This will allow Fluid Farms to secure a larger market share by bringing the goodness of aquaponic produce and fish to a larger audience.
How will the Kickstarter funds be used?
we have calculated the build-out cost for Greenhouse 2.0 to be $10,000. Fluid Farms has already allocated a substantial portion of these funds to the project, but we are seeking an additional $5,000 from Kickstarter for operating costs and to purchase the remaining components (greenhouse materials, water pumps, pond liners, ect.). With your generous donations, Fluid Farms is poised to hit anticipated production levels by this spring. Additional funds above and beyond are welcomed and will be used to further our mission of four-season aquaponic farming by providing us with the financial security to implement energy efficient heating options.
Now for the good stuff… the rewards for your generous gift to Fluid Farms! Of course, we feel that the greatest reward is the opportunity to join the Fluid Farms family. It’s a happy, loving family that enjoys growing greens and squeezing fish. A great way to meet the rest of your instant new family would be to come to our fish fry this summer. Check out our Kickstarter rewards section for more info.
AND for the hippest reward check out the Aquaponic Mason Jar, instantly proving to your friends you are the hippest hipster.
Seriously though, your reward would be the satisfaction of knowing that your money will serve as an investment in two hard-working guys who are contributing to the growing aquaponic knowledge base and increasing the availability of delicious, nutritious food. As a local company, Fluid Farms is committed to giving back to the community that in turn supports us (much like the symbiosis of aquaponics), which is why we have donated an aquaponic system to Portland public school’s greenhouse program. We have also offered food donations (fish filets and produce) to the Preble Street Food Bank as a Kickstarter reward. Go to: www.preblestreet.org for more info.
Finally, the most obvious reward is the food. We truly feel that we can produce some of the freshest, most nutritious food around. Your support will allow us to continue doing what we love: feeding, breeding, and eating!
We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to pursue our passions. Please consider supporting our project by donating at any level.
Who We Are
Fortified by Tyler and Jackson’s decade-long friendship the Fluid Farms operation has been bootstrapped together to create a progressive and imaginative farming model.
Jackson is a mechanical engineer for a southern Maine engineering firm where he designs automated manufacturing systems. Along with his engineering experience, Jackson is also an experienced horticulturist who has been growing backyard gardens all his life and hydroponic produce for the previous five years. Combining these talents and professional experiences, Jackson has provided integral insight to the design and operation of the Fluid Farms aquaponic system. He also has some great system automation and data acquisition ideas that he plans to implement this coming spring.
Tyler is a fisheries biologist for a southern Maine environmental consulting firm where he conducts comprehensive ecosystem assessments throughout the United States including freshwater and marine fish surveys. He previously worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Vermont, where he gained fish spawning experience working in a salmon hatchery. He has subsequently gained in-depth knowledge of fish ecology, breeding, and water quality parameters—a knowledge base critical to the smart design and operation of Fluid Farms’ aquaponic model. Tyler’s long-held appreciation for natural ecosystems and aquatic organisms fueled his desire to develop the aquaponic model.
We plan to use our combined professional expertise and aquaponics experience gained thus far to take our production to the next level. We are confident that we have designed an efficient and productive system for our new greenhouse; however, we know the learning will never stop. Thus, with support from Kickstarter we can continue to refine our aquaponic model and continue to grow more each season.
Risks and challenges
The two years of greenhouse operations already under our belt have allowed us to flesh out many of the risks involved with seasonal aquaponics, but shifting to year-round production presents a new set of challenges, most notably the obstacles associated with greenhouse production in a northern climate. The challenges include cost-effective heating and ventilation systems, harsh weather conditions, and short daylight hours. Another risk is the precise forecasting of harvest schedules to prevent shortages or supply interruptions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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