Dreaming of Home Scale Aquaponics?

posted Oct 14, 2013, 9:30 AM by Holly White   [ updated Oct 14, 2013, 9:48 AM ]

You've discovered aquaponics, you're psyched about the possibilities, you want to take your knowledge and understanding to the next level...but where to start? It's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the components and science jargon when starting up your own home system. As a designer by trade, the part that I love most about building a home aquaponics system is the flexibility and customization options it affords; Go for an easy assembly kit or get down and dirty with the materials that you have around you! And that's exactly what Robert Eschbach of Denver did! We had been corresponding with Robert for several months over the summer with some water cycling questions before adding some of our Tilapia to his home system. He picked up 4 Blue Niles and 2 Rocky Mountain Whites in August. About a month later these photos arrived from Robert who thought they might be just the inspiration others need to get started.

CA: So Robert, how did you first learn about Aquaponics?

RE: One of my friends posted an article on Facebook several months ago. I've always been interested in sustainability and was fascinated with the concept. From there I started researching on my own, primarily through online forums on aquaponics.

CA: Describe your system for us.

RE: I have a 55 gallon fish tank set beneath my grow bed. There are two holes in the bottom of the growbed, one where the water is pumped in to the bed and the other for the bell siphon. About 1/3 of the fish tank water is pumped up to the growbed which fills about every 10 minutes. There's one fluorescent light on a pulley system over the growbed to provide supplementary light to the plants.

CA: How many fish do you have in there?

RE: Right now there are 5 fish total, one Rocky Mountain White juvenile and four Blue Nile fingerlings.

CA: What types of things are you growing?

RE: Lettuce, Mesclun greens, Peas, Basil, Wheat Grass. Everything is about two months old. I started them by simply broadcasting seeds straight into the media bed.

CA: How much money do you think you have put into building and maintaining your system?

RE: Probably about $500.

CA: What was your biggest obstacle/most frustrating moment?

RE: The Bell Siphon! Getting just the right amount of flow into the bed in order to start the siphon took a lot of trial and error. The water pump tube clogs up and slows the rate of flow. I recommend not gluing in any of the plumbing pipes so that you can easily make adjustments as needed. Don't get too anxious to get it started and know that it may take a lot of tweaking to get your system flowing just right.

CA: What was your best resource for aquaponic knowledge?

RE: I did all my research with free blogs and forums found on the internet. I can't remember the exact names of them, but there is a ton of free resources on the web.

CA: Any last thoughts you want to impart to those who are dreaming of having their own home aquaponics systems?

RE: It's important for people to be proactive about living more sustainably. Everyone needs realize that aquaponics is just a part of a bigger means toward eating healthier food and knowing where your food comes from.   

Big Thanks to Robert for sharing his experience, the system is looking great!  Don't forget that the Colorado Aquaponics team is a great resource for Aquaponics questions that you may be stuck on. We continuously offer one-day workshops each month that cover everything from fundamental concepts to pump sizing, plumbing, and construction!  Check out the Education tab of our website for upcoming class schedules and registration! See you there!

Colorado Aquaponics at Self Reliance Expo

posted Sep 13, 2013, 2:53 PM by Holly White   [ updated Sep 13, 2013, 2:55 PM ]

Interested in food security, accessible technologies,  or just getting closer to moving "off the grid"?  Then come join us at the Self-Reliance Expo on October 4-5 at the National Western Complex.  Colorado Aquaponics will be featuring some home-scale systems, taking class registrations, and spreading aquaponic knowledge at our booth this year!  Keep an eye on the main stage schedule for an Aquaponics presentation by JD Sawyer, Founder and President of Colorado Aquaponics.

Colorado Aquaponics is Going to Pine Ridge, SD

posted Jul 30, 2013, 3:13 PM by Holly White   [ updated Aug 8, 2013, 7:05 AM by Tawnya Sawyer ]

Pine Ridge, SD July 26, 2013 – The American Open Currency Standard (AOCS) joins Colorado Aquaponics (CA) for the “Basics and Build Aquaponics Workshop” on August 10, 2013.

The workshop is part of an ongoing project to build a full-service aquaponic facility at the site of the new Lakota Dollar Store, to be managed by residents of Pine Ridge.

Aquaponicly grown organic food, together with the new Oglala Lakota Sioux tribal community currency, offers better choices than what central planning affords most Americans.

Monetarily, Americans are coerced to use central banking currency that constantly loses value due to inflation. This lowers the standard of living over time and erodes wealth that could be used for savings. AOCS encourages Americans to empower communities with local currency. They also help supply the minted coins to Indian Nations such as the Oglala Lakota.

The centrally planned food industry yields similar results in terms of the quality. While no one firm has a monopoly on food distribution, the regulatory structure favors large corporations, as the cost of compliance inhibits entry into the market. It also dictates the way food is grown and processed, steering the market towards an unhealthy diet. The system also creates hostility toward natural alternatives such as raw milk.
Results - central planning & factory farming has been as bad for health and nutrition as central banking has been for the monetary system & economy. Today, First Nations people suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and chronic disease than any generation in history.

Organic alternatives can be expensive and difficult to access. Our message: Grow Your Own.

CA and AOCS are helping develop a facility in Pine Ridge to teach sustainable farming techniques within the Oglala Lakota Nation. This important outreach will empower Americans and Lakota Indians to enjoy optimum healthy organic foods through Aquaponic farming, as well as serve as a model for other tribes.

Self-reliance and independence are American ideals shared by both organizations within their respective disciplines. That makes AOCS and CA natural partners for a more free America.

The workshop will be held at Billy Mills Hall in Pine Ridge, SD 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  For more information please contact

Green Acre Aquaponics Introduces a Revolutionary Approach to Farm Education and Commercial Aquaponics

posted May 19, 2013, 11:07 AM by Tawnya Sawyer

Farming methods have changed many times since man planted the first
seed in the ground 10,000 year
s ago. Most recently, the Green Revolution has transformed farming and dramatically increased farm productivity by using genetically engineered seeds and by applying chemical fertilizers and pesticides. But we are now seeing a backlash to these techniques due to the adverse environmental and health effects of these technologies and chemicals and a corresponding surge in interest in organic, sustainable farming practices and techniques. Enter the Aquaponic Farm Revolution. Aquaponics is a growing technique that takes advantage of the tremendous efficiency of hydroponics, but uses the waste product of fish as the organic source of plant fertilizer in a recirculating environment. The plants, in turn, filter the water in which the fish live.

Aquaponics uses 90% less water then is used in traditional soil-based agriculture, and aquaponic farms can be established anywhere there are people in need of fresh produce – even in parking lots and abandoned warehouses. And through aquaponics, farmers automatically have sustainably-raised fish that they can harvest and sell alongside their produce.Green Acre Aquaponics in Brooksville, FL has both pioneered this growing technique and has created a profitable aquaponics farm model that integrates six different growing techniques (deep water culture, media-based, nutrient film technique, vertical stackers, vertical towers, and wicking beds) in a single hybrid farm system to supply the demands of their ever-changing local market as efficiently as possible.

“Just because something can grow that way doesn’t mean it should grow that way” Gina Cavaliero, Managing Director, Green Acre Aquaponics

These techniques and the technology that underlies them, as well as farm business management and marketing concepts explicitly tailored for aquaponic farms, will be taught during two back-to-back, four-day courses June 15 - 18 and June 20 - 23. The hands-on, farm sessions will be held at the GrowHaus, a non-profit urban farm and market in the heart of a Denver food desert community known as Elyria-Swansea. Here the Green Acre’s Aquaponic Farming Course approaches aquaponic farming education from all angles with the hands-on approach at the farm and detailed aquaponics and business education in the classroom. The goal is to have course students walk away with all the knowledge they need to build, start, and run their own successful, profitable aquaponics farm.

The Green Acres teaching team is comprised of three aquaponics professionals with a unique blend of aquaponics farming experience, industry leadership, and business experience. The course is led by Gina Cavaliero, the Managing Director of Green Acre’s Aquaponics Farm and the current Chair of the Aquaponics Association. Prior to forming Green Acres, Gina was the founder and CEO of a highly successful construction firm in Florida. Gina is joined by JD Sawyer, founder of Colorado Aquaponics and the aquaponics farm at Denver’s GrowHaus, and the director of the 2012 Aquaponics Association Annual Conference in Denver. Prior to forming Colorado Aquaponics, JD spent eight years as the Director of Operations at Johnson & Wales University. The third member of the teaching team is Sylvia Bernstein, author of “Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together” and the founder of The Aquaponic Source. Sylvia is the former Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for AeroGrow International.

For more information, or to register for the course, please go to

Media Contact: 
Gina Cavaliero, Managing Director 
Green Acre Aquaponics 

Announcing Aquaponics Tour de Tanks - Free Farm Tours

posted Mar 28, 2013, 7:58 AM by Tawnya Sawyer   [ updated Apr 11, 2013, 12:58 PM by Jd Sawyer ]

What: Aquaponics Association Tour de Tanks
When: April 21st 10:00am - 2:00pm (Tours will begin on the hour with the last one starting at 2:00pm)
Where: Flourish Farms at The GrowHaus, 4751 York St, Denver
Why: To get people interested and excited about aquaponics

The Aquaponics Association along with hobby, community and commercial aquaponics enthusiasts around the US are opening their doors during Earth Week to show people the exciting and innovative way that we love growing food. By combining fish and plants together we get more to eat, an excellent protein source, highly nutritious, chemical free foods, that produce zero waste and conserve natural resources. Come check out our home and community-scale aquaponics systems, growing food for our families, local restaurants, markets and providing some nutritious food options for a neighborhood considered a food desert. 

Colorado Aquaponics 2012 Recap

posted Jan 3, 2013, 12:28 PM by Tawnya Sawyer   [ updated Jan 3, 2013, 2:06 PM ]

So many exciting things happened in 2012. We started the year by acquiring a commercial aquaponics farm in Arvada that we called Flourish Farms. Throughout the year we grew tons of fantastic vegetables, culinary herbs and tasty tilapia which were sold to restaurants and farmer's markets as well as donated to enrich meals for children and elderly who wouldn't otherwise have much access to fresh produce. It was so great to meet our customers every week and hear about their special dinners prepared with our food. We even got to taste raw tilapia done ceviche style, served up at Harvest Week Dinner at GrowHaus by Brandon Foster from Vesta Dipping Grill. It was fantastically good (although I wouldn’t have ever tried making tilapia this way, they are super fresh and we know where they’ve been)…

The spring Koi sale, brought in a bunch of Koi enthusiasts who took home many bright and beautiful koi to make their ponds sparkle with color and character. These fish love people and put on a show every time someone walks near the tanks. We will have another Koi sale this spring for more opportunities for some really amazing premium quality fish.

Workshop, tours and special events at the farm brought visitors from down the street and around the world who enjoyed the beautiful colors of the greenhouse, the frantic feasting of the tilapia and koi, and the fresh flavor of just-harvested farm produce. Denver Botanic Gardens Urban Farm tour made a stop at Flourish Farms along with several school groups, and scouts meetings. The kids especially love to plant, harvest and try tasting things in the greenhouse. Kids seem far more likely to eat kale, chard, lettuce and even mustard greens when they get to pick it themselves. A group of African delegates also paid a visit to learn the innovative techniques of aquaponic food production with minimal water consumption.

In June we received news that GrowHaus would be completing renovations of the greenhouse over the summer, a dream almost three years in the making. We began planning and designing the commercial scale aquaponics system along with Gina Cavaliero of Green Acre Aquaponics. The GrowHaus completed its renovations in late August, and the Colorado Aquaponics team got to work in 100o temperatures, building out the new aquaponics system. We couldn’t have completed this project without the help of family, friends and the internet community through Kickstarter funding. Thank you all so much for making a difference.

September brought hundreds of aquaponics addicts (and we mean this in the nicest sense of the word), to Denver for the 2nd Annual Aquaponics Association Conference. Participants had the opportunity to tour Flourish Farms and the GrowHaus as well as Sustainability Park, then hear from experts and pioneers alike through the conference presentations. It was an informative, mind expanding weekend.

October brought Gina back to Denver for the Green Acre’s Aquaponics Farming Complete Course where over a hundred people joined JD, Gina and Sylvia in the Farm Revolution. It is rewarding to find so many people excited to help solve food quality, availability, localized production, greater self-reliance and environmental change through aquaponics.

November we completed production at Flourish Farms in Arvada, and moved out just after Thanksgiving. It was a whorl-wind weekend, of moving several hundred fish, but every one of them made the trip without casualty (except for the ones that became the celebration dinner, and man were they tasty).

December gave us a bit of pause to reflect on an amazing year, finish a wide variety of projects at GrowHaus, create schedules, procedures, cycle the system and get everything in place for an abundant and productive 2013. Our motto this year is Growing More Greens in 2013. Come check things out any Friday during the GrowHaus Farm Tours from 10am to noon, learn more about aquaponics at one of our many workshops or purchase some of the freshest, nutrient dense vegetables, tasty culinary herbs, or hand fed fish throughout the year at GrowHaus.


Denver Post Article on Colorado Aquaponics

posted Sep 19, 2012, 12:05 PM by Tawnya Sawyer


New aquaponics farming system helps cities and drought-stricken regions

POSTED:   09/19/2012 12:01:00 AM MDT
UPDATED:   09/19/2012 10:46:55 AM MDT
By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
JD Sawyer left, and his wife Tawnya Sawyer, of Colorado Aquaponics, harvest chard, Monday September 10, 2012, in Arvada. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Anurban farm aimed at providing food for an economically disadvantaged northwest Denver neighborhoodis drawing widespread interest because of its unique techniques.

GrowHaus — co-founded by Adam Brock who works in partnership with JD and Tawnya Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics — uses an aquaponic growing system.

The basic components of the system are a greenhouse containing tubs of well-fed fish and a water-circulation system that runs under the plants or beds of produce. Fish waste is treated within the system and converted to nutrients, which feed the plants. The plants absorb the nutrients and purify the water, which is then recirculated

Bibb lettuce is harvested at GrowHaus. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)
back to the fish tanks.

GrowHaus is using the method — which uses an estimated 10 percent of the water used by traditional agriculture — to produce chard, kale, mustard greens and basil, which are distributed within the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood where it is located.

Though the project initially started as a way for the neighborhood to get cheap, healthy food, it is drawing broad interest as a model for urban- and water-saving agriculture.

"I think one of the great things about GrowHaus is the fact that people come here from all over the world," said Tawnya Sawyer. "We are always impressed and amazed about the number of different nationalities that come to this location to understand what urban farming looks like and what water conservation looks like."

Sawyer said she is working with U.S. tribal nations interested in their farming techniques and has visited with many people from other nations who visit GrowHaus.

Additionally, the city of Denver has requested a feasibility study on setting up such a system at the county jail.

Steven Newman, a professor of Floriculture at the Colorado State University's Greenhouse and Floricuture Extension, said aquaponics combines two

Adam Brock is director of operations. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)
important elements for today's society and can conceivably expand into urban areas as well as American Indian lands and Third World countries.

Aquaponics, he said, is a great water-saving way to grow food locally — an increasingly important issue as people seek to reduce their carbon footprints by eating food grown closer to home and focus on bringing healthy food to struggling communities.

Equally important, Newman said, is the social aspect. Such operations have the potential to provide an important place for women in Third World countries to work and socialize while providing food for their communities, he said.

The Sawyers alternate between their urban greenhouse farm in Arvada and the GrowHaus, but say they

Waste from tilapia fish is used to feed plants in the aquaponic operation. (Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post)
will soon work completely from the GrowHaus, which is expanding.

Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939or

Read more:New aquaponics farming system helps cities and drought-stricken regions - The Denver Post
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content:

Kickstarter Campaign Success

posted Sep 11, 2012, 9:05 PM by Tawnya Sawyer   [ updated Oct 9, 2012, 8:39 AM ]

Kickstarter Success
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! To all the wonderful people who contributed to this project. We couldn't have done this without the help of people like you interested in making a difference for people, food and the environment. 

We Appreciate Your Support

September 4th was a very exciting day for Colorado Aquaponics. It was a little over two weeks into the commercial construction project at the GrowHaus, and the day that so many people helped make our Kickstarter campaign a success (it was also JD's birthday). A good day to celebrate all around. So much work has happened to renovate GrowHaus, plan the system build, purchase materials from local merchants, gather resources, and construct the commercial aquaponics system. It is rewarding, humbling and incredibly exciting to have so many people engaged in this project to help build a model for sustainable urban food production. We want to THANK EVERYONE, whatever your contribution: money, time, well-wishes, shares and likes, blog posts and a wide variety of other expressions of support. There is still much to do, but easier to get the job with the help of community.

Many, many thanks to Gina Cavaliero of Green Acres Aquapoincs (and Tanya for handling the farm in her absence). We look forward to seeing this hybrid system design come to life with abundant fish and vegetables.

Special thanks for the efforts of the tireless team of staff, volunteers, interns, and work-study participants. This team has worked early mornings and long days, endured intense heat (greenhouse without environmental controls), and patiently completed tasks that required strength, endurance and complicated problem-solving. Thanks so much to Shawn, Rick, Terri, Avery, Holly, Clay, Byron, Thomas, Douglas, Justin, James, Steve, and so many more.

Thank you to the many Kickstarter contributors, who have helped make this project a reality. Your contribution is more than financial, it is social and environmental and something to feel very proud about. There were a total of 149  backers through Kickstarter and several dozen others who helped outside of the crowd-funding platform. A number of contributors have asked to remain anonymous. Click here for a complete list of contributors.

Growing Food, Growing Minds Kickstarter Campaign

posted Aug 8, 2012, 8:44 AM by Tawnya Sawyer   [ updated Aug 8, 2012, 9:13 AM ]

Check out the video and project information at Kickstarter
The Colorado Aquaponics team is excited to announce that we have launched a crowd funding, kickstarter campaign to give a large audience of people the opportunity to be a part of a very innovative and important project at the GrowHaus this fall. We are building a commercial scale aquaponics system modeled after the Green Acres Aquaponics system in Florida to provide fresh, chemical free food for the neighborhood, green job opportunities and education. This project has been in the works for almost 3 years, and the greenhouse renovations are almost completed. Now is the time to make the system a reality. So if you have ever visited the GrowHaus, (or plan to at the Aquaponics Association Annual conference Sept 21-23), then you will see the amazing progress happening to transform a neighborhood considered a food desert, into a vibrant urban farm and market. Read More....

Before and after pictures of the GrowHaus space. The original building was constructed in the 1950's and had been abandoned for many years. It was purchased in 2009 with plans to make the space into a lush, green, growing environment to provide food for the local Elyria/Swansea neighborhood. Aquaponics was chosen because it grows both protein and produce in one system, reuses the byproduct of one species to fertilize another, creating zero waste and prohibits the use of agrochemicals. Aquaponics also conserves water which is critical in Colorado as it is around the world. We believe that aquaponics is one piece of the puzzle to solving a sustainable food system in a hungry planet. 

Commercial Workshop at Flourish Farms

posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:49 AM by Tawnya Sawyer   [ updated Jul 2, 2012, 9:22 PM by Jd Sawyer ]

Are YOU ready to join the Farm Revolution? 
Session 1 - Oct 27 - 30th      Session 2 - Nov 1 - 4th

The innovators at Green Acre Aquaponics are joined by Sylvia Bernstein of The Aquaponic Source and JD Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics and Flourish Farms for this comprehensive, hands-on approach to aquaponic farming. 

Join us in Denver in late October / early November at Green Acre's Western training center!  We know that not everyone has the luxury of living in sunny, warm Florida and that most folks have to deal with varying degrees of cold weather so we have partnered up with JD Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics and Flourish Farms for our cold weather Green Acre Aquaponic Farming Complete Course training location.  It will be the same comprehensive course we offer at our Florida farm with more emphasis on colder climates.   JD not only owns and manages Flourish Farms, but also consults and teaches aquaponics with Colorado Aquaponics and the GrowHaus.  We are very excited to be bringing even more commercial farming experience to our team. 

Learn the methods, understand the science, discover the business, and become part of the movement that will relocalize sustainable food production. This is not an academic class taught by professors or consultants, but rather a hands-on practical class designed to teach you everything you need to know to run your own successful aquaponic farm. 

"Of all the courses I have EVER taken, and there have been many, this course is by far the most exceptional!" - Steve Golin

We taught this course in April, 2012 and it was tremendously successful.  How do we know?  

"Congratulations! Great curriculum in scope and detail. Wonderful camaraderie developed. Honest, transparent I feel like I can come back and ask more. The willingness to share the very intimate business details with the class is refreshing and incredibly valuable. Provided written materials ensure we have a reference to keep and use over time. Well done!" 
- Kathleen Blackistone

Green Acres
The Green Acre family farm is the model that this team will teach students to replicate. A successful Aquaponics Farm since 2010, Green Acres does this for a living every day. Recognizing the value of integrating media bed growing into raft (DWC) technology, their hybrid aquaponics design optimizes nutrient density by allowing the additional metabolization of valuable solids typically removed from DWC systems. Why remove the most valuable element in an aquaponic system when it can be utilized to produce better and more abundant growth? This growth translates into one thing, more sellable product, elevating your bottom line. 

"Wow! I wasn't expecting so much detail on the construction and financial aspects. Loved the empowerment afforded by the hybrid system build."

Elevating your bottom line, now that’s a concept any business person can appreciate. Enter Sylvia Bernstein. An integral part in any family farm is the business aspect. Ordinary people can do it, but they also need to have the tools and skills to manage the business and market their product. Sylvia, is the former VP of Marketing for AeroGrow International with a Masters in Business from the top business school in the U.S., and the author of the best selling* book, "Aquaponic Gardening."

"Thank you for delivering an excellent course! All the speakers spoke from a point of knowledge, humor and a love for aquaponics that really showed." - Michael Johnston

(* #1 on's Best Selling Gardening and Horticulture books)

What sets us apart from other aquaponics training programs? Glad you asked! 

  • Tonya fishOur program is taught by people who are not only aquaponics business people and farmers, but also industry leaders. We do aquaponics for a living every day. 
  • Our goal is not to sell you systems or consulting services at the end of this course. Our goal is to have you walk away with all the knowledge you need to start your own successful aquaponics farm. 
  • Our approach is to teach you about all the growing methods currently available - DWC, media, NFT, Wicking Beds and Vertical - so you can design your farm to fit your market. 
  • Our process is organized and structured. Your time is valuable and you are paying your hard-earned money for this course. We guarantee that if we say that we will go over something on the schedule below...we will.
  • We don't ask you to sign an intellectual property release like other aquaponics training companies do.
  • But don't just take our word for here to read what past participants say about this course.

The Syllabus

Flourish FarmsWe have designed this course to be a logical progression that builds on itself over the four days. You will be handed a complete manual during class registration that includes all the presentations, plus even more detailed descriptions, drawings, and finaincial data. Morning sessions will be held classroom style in a very comfortable classroom location. Each morning session will start with an aquaponically focused set of lessons, followed by a set of business lessons. Then we break for lunch, which will be provided from a local, organic cafe. Afternoon sessions will be at Flourish Farms, a fully operational aquaponics farm based on the design principles of the Green Acres methodology. These sessions will be broken out into smaller groups so that all students get front row, hands on time with their instructors. Each group will rotate through all segments. 

"Highly informative. Good balance between the farm business and the actual farm operation. Very helpful in learning how to assemble a small system."

Day 1 

  • Morning - Classroom 
    • Aquaponics - The basics 
      • The Nitrogen Cycle 
      • The Role of pH 
      • Water quality 
      • Dissolved Oxygen 
      • Important ratios 
    • Business - What you need to consider before becoming a farmer 
      • Business planing
      • Types of distribution channels 
      •  Can you actually sell your fish? 
      •  Business stragegy
  • Afternoon - Hands on at Flourish Farms
    • Water Quality and Testing 
    • Seeding 
    • Plant handling and insect control 
    • Fish handling 

Day 2 

  • Morning - Classroom 
    • Aquaponics - Systems Design 
      • System types - DWC, media, NFT, wicking beds, vertical 
      • Combining system types 
      • Component selection 
      • Construction tips 
      • Water flow and pumps 
    • Business - Marketing 
      • What is your USP? 
      • Form a tribe 
      • Pricing theory, supply vs. demand 
      • Social media “advertising” 
      • The value of creating an email list and sending out newsletters 
      • Display / packaging / branding 
  • Afternoon - Hands on at Flourish Farms
    • System construction 
    • Fish Tank connections 
    • DWC or raft bed construction 
    • Media bed construction 
    • Seedling system construction 

Day 3 JD teaching

  • Morning - Classroom 
    • Aquaponics - Plumbing and Maintenance 
      • Water flow and pumps 
      • Plumbing it all together 
      • System maintenance 
    • Business - Your online presence 
      • I’m a farmer…why do I need a website? 
      • The importance of your URL 
      • Establishing your website 
      •  SEO basics 
  •  Afternoon - Hands on at Flourish Farms
    • System plumbing 
    • Wicking, Vertical and NFT Systems 
    • System maintenance 

Day 4 

  • Morning - Classroom 
    • Aquaponics - The Growing Environment 
      • Farm Biosecurity and HAACP practices 
      • Green house considerations 
      • Heating and Cooling
      • Lighting 
    • Business - “Sell” is not a 4-letter word! 
      • How to sell at Farmer’s Markets 
      • How to establish a CSA/Buying Club 
      • How to approach Restaurants 
  • Afternoon 
    • Wrap up and final Q&A 

"Great group of teachers - lots of info. You guys are living what you're preaching. This is the real deal! And you work so well together!!! And... LOTS OF FUN! Great curriculum. I love that you guys are so into sharing your info and presenting your experience to keep us from making the same mistakes. From there we will all " just take off!" and keep sharing - "tribe." 

The Instructors 

Gina Cavaliero of Green Acre Aquaponics

Green Acre Aquaponics is one of the first commercial aquaponic farms in Florida. At Green Acre, Gina manages farm operations, their Green Acre  Harvest For You! produce club and also their aquaponic training program, where entrepreneurs are taught how to replicate the Green Acre model and operate the hybridized aquaponic family farm. Gina serves as the inaugural Chairman for the Aquaponics Association and is dedicated to the mission of advancing aquaponics for her fellow members and industry. Before becoming an aquaponic farmer, Gina was the co-owner and managing director of a multi-million dollar producing construction contracting firm. Gina received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in Anthropology with a minor in Education.

Sylvia Bernstein of The Aquaponic Source 

Sylvia is the president of The Aquaponic Source , she runs the Aquaponic Gardening Community, and is the Vice Chairman of the Aquaponics Association. She is also the author of "Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together" . Before aquaponics, she was the VP of Marketing and Product Development at AeroGrow International, where she was one of the founding team members. Sylvia has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Agricultural and Managerial Economics from the University of California at Davis. 

JD Sawyer of Colorado Aquaponics and Flourish Farms 

JD SawyerJD founded Colorado Aquaponics in 2009 and has been building aquaponic systems and providing education for schools and communities throughout Colorado. Through extensive research, training and work experience, JD has built comprehensive business models to help prove the financial viability as well as identify the risks of commercial aquaponics.  JD owns and operates Flourish Farms in Arvada, CO. The farm features over 1,200 s.f. of deep water culture growing, 150 s.f. of media beds and over 85 ZipGrow vertical towers. Prior to starting Colorado Aquaponics, he spent eight years as the Director of Operations at Johnson &Wales University. JD authored and implemented campus master plans, oversaw multiple departments and managed over forty million dollars of capital improvement projects. As a member of the Project Management Institute, he is now applying his skills in facilities, operations, education and financial planning to create sustainable food production systems with aquaponics.  

  • $1295 for registration before August 1
  • $1395 for registration between August 1 and Sept 1
  • $1495 after Sept 1 (there is a very real chance that we will be full by then given registration rates for the last course)
  • $200 discount for second family or project member (see Options above "add to cart" button)
  • Cancellation policy: Requests for cancellation of registration must be received in writing. Cancellations received by October 1, 2011, will be subject to a cancellation fee of 10%, which will be deducted from the refund. No refund will be made for cancellation requests received after October 1. If the event needs to be cancelled because of an unforseen cause beyond the organizers control (such as Acts of God, fire, strikes, and natural disasters, etc.) you will be refunded your registration fee less 10% to cover incurred organizational costs 


(note: each Session is independent.  Session 2 is identical to Session 1) 
  • Session 1 - Oct 27 - 30 
  • Session 2 - Nov 1 - 4


8:00 am - 5:00 pm 


Because we strongly believe that the personal experience of actually being in the class and interacting with the systems, the instructors and fellow participants is critical to the eventual success of the participants, this class will not be available on video tape and video taping of these sessions is prohibited.


  • Morning, classroom sessions - TBD
  • Afternoon, hands-on sessions will be held at Flourish  Farms


Denver International 



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