Healthy Growing System under a simple hoophouse

Healthy Growing System under a simple hoop house

We listen!

And what we have heard is that there is a growing interest in hydroponics.

Last April, at Earth Day Texas, Green Phoenix Farms had a display booth located in a row that also featured several hydroponics displays.

Also at Earth Day, Adam Cohen was a part of a panel discussion on sustainable growing methods. As is usual in such situations, aquaponics was described to the audience as a closed loop system that incorporates aquaculture and hydroponics in a symbiotic relationship where each benefits from the other.

Following the well-attended presentation, there was a question. The gist of it was: “If we don’t eat fish, don’t like fish and don’t want to have to feed fish, why can’t we just grow our vegetables hydroponically?

That started us thinking. It also started us talking to hydroponic growers, including those who had booths adjacent to ours at the Expo. We learned a lot.

Expanding into Hydroponics

Over the last several months, we have confirmed that there is great interest in learning about hydroponics as well as aquaponics. We continue to learn. We also acknowledge that, as much as we love our fish, there are some who don’t share that interest.

So? So, we are expanding the focus of Green Phoenix Farms.

Victor Justice

Victor Justice

We welcome Victor Justice, who joins our staff as Hydroponics Expert and Farm Manager with more than 20 years of experience in hydroponic growing, both indoors and in outside systems. We are privileged to bring him on board, not only because of his background, but also because of his enthusiasm for aquaponics and hydroponics. Those of you who have attended past workshops may already have met him, and we are sure you will be impressed with both his knowledge and his enthusiasm.

Beginning later this year, we plan to offer our first Introduction to Hydroponics class at our Mansfield office. For the past four years, we have expanded our first introductory aquaponics classes to include a full series; we anticipate the same response to the new hydroponics curriculum.

Working at the Farm

The second half of our big announcement is that the land purchased last spring by Green Phoenix Farms is about to become our working farm. We have already cut weeds, leveled the land, laid out the site, and planned the growing beds to be contained in the first hoop enclosure.

On Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015, we will hold our first “Acres of Work,” a greenhouse-building workshop, in conjunction with our First Saturday Gathering. Join us to help assure that our first 20X50 foot greenhouse will be operational by the end of the month, and also get some hands-on instruction if you’re interested in building your own hoop house.

Cleared and ready to build

Cleared and ready to build

View the details of the planned workshop and register now for this learning experience. Although our first phase is to be a 20X50 enclosure, anyone in attendance will have the opportunity to purchase a manual with complete instructions on how to build a 20X100 foot greenhouse frame for a total cost of only about $700. The manual includes detailed instructions on how to build a pipe bender, frame bows and purlins. It also features a complete materials list and quantities table.

Because we are entering the colder months of the year, this first greenhouse section has been designed to house a hydroponics growing system, with a focus on plantings that will thrive in cool to cold temperatures. In addition, the start-up time for hydroponics is much shorter than for aquaponics, and our goal is to be able to harvest our first crops during the month of December. What a year-end gift that will be!

As always, the overall goal is to gather information that we can pass on – data on utility, materials, equipment and seed costs, as well as labor requirements and crop yield. We will pass on that information so that you can judge for yourselves whether alternative, sustainable farming is right for you on either a personal or commercial level.

Finally, I personally want to thank you for your support over the last few months and for your continuing support for Green Phoenix Farms. This marks a new and exciting phase in our growth cycle. Thank you for joining us along the road to healthy eating and better living.

DAVID COHEN