Tag Archives: hydroponics

Saturday Morning Ramblings

Two and a half years ago, I was a shell of a man, struggling to get to my feet and find my bearings after my divorce.  I was broke and broken. I lived in my best friend’s spare bedroom and didn’t have my own car.  I made it to and from work by bumming rides from family and friends.  Each day was a challenge to find the motivation to get out of bed and force myself to trudge onward.  Because of the terms of my divorce, I get to keep roughly $.51 on every $1.00 I earn.  After taxes, child support, and insurance for my kids, my take home pay is barely above minimum wage.  Those factors severely limit how often I get to see my children, and for anyone who knows me, you know how deeply that affects me.

Two and a half years ago, I faced tough choices.  I could lay down and give up, and quite frankly, that option was pretty appealing.  I could move somewhere else, closer to my kids, and start a new life.  I went so far as to apply for jobs in South Georgia and North Florida.  Then, one day, as I worked on cleaning up my motor home to get it livable, an idea came to me.  I looked out at my family’s 27 acres and realized that one of the passions I’ve always wanted to pursue is growing vegetables.

I started researching what it would take to launch a farm.  The more I learned, the more I realized that the future of farming is indoor growing, so I launched myself into studying as much as I could about aeroponics and hydroponics.  At first, I leaned towards an aeroponic system because of the efficiency, and I built a functional prototype.  However, the more I learned, the more I saw that those units, while efficient, are highly unstable.

So I went back to the drawing board and designed an ebb and flow hydroponic unit.  In August of this year, I finally had enough money to buy all of the components necessary to build and launch the system.  Today, I’m a couple of weeks away from the first harvest.  From this experience, I’ve learned some valuable lessons, most notably that because of the grow rates of various plants, it’s important to have multiple systems to maintain proper nutrient cycles for each.  To that end, I want to build our second unit that I can dedicate to one specific vegetable.

But like I said, I’m severely limited in my financial resources, so quite honestly, I need help.  I’m currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for this second unit.  If I didn’t need this money to get the unit up and running soon, I wouldn’t be asking, but I know, based on my take home income, it will be mid-summer before I can have enough money to put into it.  If I can get this system going now, I could effectively have three harvests in that time frame.

Recently, I’ve watched three specific fundraisers have tremendous success.  A friend of mine raised money for a rock video.  Within 48 hours, he had surpassed his goal.  An acquaintance raised money for an independent film and received enough to cover production costs.  Most recently, my publisher ran a campaign for a new book project and raised nearly 250% of their goal.  I don’t resent the successes of these fund raisers.  In fact, I supported each one, sharing links and writing blogs about them, but I am bothered by the lack of interest in supporting my project.

I’m trying to build a farm that will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of people in this region.  We need more fresh, organic vegetables in this area.  We need more sustainable agricultural practices.  That’s not political either.  It’s just a fact.  Weather patterns are changing.  During the grow season, we have extended periods of drought followed by intense storms.  That’s not conducive to efficient farming.  The future will have to be focused on developing indoor growing environments that are year round and efficient.  I’m not even going to get into the effects of rising fuel prices on traditional farming, but our current model isn’t financially sustainable long-term.

So I’m asking for your help.  If you can, please, contribute, even $1.  If you can’t, please share the link, especially with people you know who might be interested.  This farm has the opportunity to change lives, not just mine but those in my community, too.  I believe that with all my heart.  I have the plan, the design, and the ability to make it happen.  What I don’t have are the financial resources.  Please, help me make this a reality.


Saturday Afternoon Ramblings

Here’s an update on the farm.  The first hydroponic unit is doing pretty well.  All of our seeds but two came up, and so far, all of the plants are growing well, especially the cucumbers.  Assuming nothing goes awry, we should have our first harvest by the end of this month.  We’ve learned a lot on this initial run and have some plans for how to refine and improve the system.  Our next goal is to build a second system that is dedicated solely to one crop.  From there, we’ll work on building at least one unit for each specific plant.

Now that this system has proven itself, I have a question open to anyone.  Do you think it would be worth the effort to run a second Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the second unit?  The last campaign was a little disappointing, but now, with a functional unit in place, do you think more people would be willing to contribute?  After watching the efficiency of the system, I’m convinced now more than ever that this is the future of farming, and I’m more dedicated than ever to getting this project off the ground.  Please, share your thoughts and let me know your opinions.

Monday Morning Ramblings

Here’s a farm update.  After two years of research, planning, testing, set-backs, building, and rebuilding, our first hydroponic system is up and running.  For the trial run, we’re growing three varieties of tomato, two kinds of lettuce, cucumbers, and cauliflower.  So far, the seedlings for spinach and peppers haven’t sprouted, though one of spinach plants looked promising this morning.  Right now, the young plants are growing well and all is working as it should.  Hopefully, in the next couple of months, we’ll have our first harvest of fresh, organic veggies, just as prices begin to skyrocket.

The thing I love about this system is the simplicity.  It’s an easily repeatable design and functions quite nicely.  We won’t know if it fully works until we get a harvest, but so far, the lights seem to produce ample spectrum; the grow chamber floods and drains the way it should; and the plants have shot up quite a bit in one week.  After watching them flourish so quickly, I’m more convinced than ever that indoor growing is the future of farming, especially as weather patterns become more and more erratic and more and more extreme.  The indoor environment is more stable, more efficient, and more controllable than outdoors.  Long-term, indoor production will be the solution to farming.

I’ll continue to post updates as the plants mature.