The conference will be held at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, in NW Philadelphia with the theme "Springing Good Intentions Into Action.” There will be over 50 home-scaled workshops, including edible gardens, community and school gardens, seed-saving, soil enrichment, 4 season harvest, bees, chickens, worms, aquaponics, food preservation, fermentation, re-purposing, upcycling, and natural building.
Lots of fun!
I'll be putting on the aquaponics workshop, demonstrating the construction of three different systems:
- An aquaponic windowfarm, using recycled water bottles
- A apartment/patio system
- An outdoor system using stock tanks
First, structure. I like the look of wire shelving. But heavy-duty wire shelves can put you back a pretty penny. Luckily, Target carries a small three-tiered set of wire shelves for just $19.99 as part of their Room Essentials line. The shelves can carry a moderate load, particularly if the load is evenly distributed, such as would be the case with the flat bottom of a fish tank, or a flat bottomed grow bed.
Second, the fish tank. I'm fine with a 5-gallon water jug, but my daughter really liked the idea of an actual fish tank, where you could clearly see the fish inside. I was happy to find a 10-gallon tank at PetSmart for under $14.00. That would work just fine for a tank located under the growbed with a pump inside. Or I could cut a 1" hole near the top with a diamond hole saw if I wanted to have a "Constant Height of Fish Tank" configuration with a pump in a sump tank.
Finally, the growbed and sump. I've used concrete mixing tubs in the past, at least for a grow bed. But TC Lynx over at the Aquaponics Gardening community mentioned that she uses bus tubs for a demonstration system she packs along when she's selling her wares at the farmers market. Bus tubs are sturdy, designed to carry a load of dirty dishes from a table to the dish-washing part of a restaurant kitchen. They are also compact enough that they're still luggable, even when filled with gravel. I was able to find 7" deep bus tubs online from a variety of sellers. I decided to get three: one for a sump, a second for a media growbed, and a third for a floating raft grow bed.
There are other configurations I can imagine, but this is simple to put together without putting much strain on the family budget.