The frame is progressing nicely!
Last week we reported to you on the beginnings and importance of our aquaponics greenhouse project, so today we’re going to let you know how our second greenhouse is progressing. Before that, though, some background on the new project.
Our second greenhouse differs in quite a few ways from our first greenhouse. First off, it’s a lot bigger; when completed it will have nearly twice the interior space of our original. The shape, too is novel. As opposed to a rectangular shape, our new venture is a decahedron (a ten-sided shape with sides of equal length). This shape offers quite a few benefits over the typical rectangle. First, it provides an excellent balance of sturdiness, ease of building, and maximization of surface area. Perhaps more importantly, though, is that it allows the plants to get a large, even amount of light throughout the day.
Finally, although this greenhouse is still integrated with a fish pond (that is, after all, what makes it an aquaponics greenhouse), it incorporates this feature in a new way. In place of a large, external fish pond, the new greenhouse actually has an internal fish pond. This too confers benefits over the previous model. The internal pond allows us unprecedented control over the environment that the fish live in and the quality of water that is nourishing the plants. As this new greenhouse is to have a more experimental focus (measuring and manipulating different variables to maximize production and nutrition), this feature is key.
At the time of this writing, the greenhouse is progressing well. It has been a pleasure to watch the team of students, 23 strong, almost singlehandedly prepare the site and construct the frame for the greenhouse. The students come from Amún Shéa as well as several other local high schools and their level of cooperation and teamwork is impressive. This integrated, multi-aged team provides both a variety of perspectives and a chance to bring other elements of the community into the Amún Shéa process.
The frame for the greenhouse is almost complete and the fish pond is receiving the final touches as this is written. All that remains for the structure is to finalize the frame and put up the roof and walls (not as hard a task as it sounds; both are a plastic film that just needs to be affixed to the frame). Melvin, who you may remember from last week, is the leader of the project, and he is confident that the structure will be completed in under a month. All that remains after that is to install the growing spaces for the plants.
This greenhouse will incorporate several methods of growing plants. There will be, as there is in our current greenhouse, an area for seedlings to mature before being transferred to other areas for growth, as well as beds for potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes and tubing for lettuce, strawberries, and spinach. We will also be introducing a new growing method; a central PVC pipe will lead vertically from the ground. Out of this, other pipes will be placed, like branches growing from a central trunk. This experimental method will be compared to the already existing methods to test for efficiency of growth and space.
Overall, everyone here is very pleased with the progress so far and is very much looking forward to the completion and implementation of our new greenhouse. Stay tuned for further information on its progress and, next week, for the future of our aquaponics greenhouse project.
Our fish pond mid-construction