We have been running our prototype household aquaponic system for just over a month now, and this week we did our first harvest. It’s so nice to have fresh salad greens this early in the season.
Aquaponics is a cycle; both a water cycle and a life cycle, and we wanted to represent that key feature in our logo. In order to represent this cyclic nature, we decided to use a zen circle, or ensō, due to its fluidity and simplicity.
This logo was created through working closely with our friend Philip LeBlanc this summer. Jake and I spent a morning drawing zen circles with ink, which Philip was then able to take and manipulate into the logo we were looking for. Thanks to Philip, we now have several versions of our logo, which can be used in different situations.
Just as it is key to balance your career, relationships, and health in life, it is important to maintain a careful balance between the various parts of an aquaponic system; the fish, the plants, and the bacteria. Since these components are connected in a continuous cycle, they have a direct influence on each other. Even though each individual aspect is beneficial, just as aspects of life, too much of one can cause major issues. For example, the plants in aquaponics filter the water for the fish, and adding more plants improves water quality. The issue arises though when there are so many plants that there is not enough nutrients for each plant, and the entire system suffers.
The key is to find the correct balance so that each part has what is necessary to thrive. But this is not easy to do. It requires commitment, patience, and a bit of trial and error to get it right. The good news is that issues that arise are rarely irreversible, and the rewards of having a balanced system are remarkable.
We wish you a happy (insert your winter celebration here)! As you gather with family and friends on the warmest time of the year, we at Oasis Farmery want to wish you all a very special holiday. We know a great number of you have or will be receiving your Kickstarter rewards, which we’ve been told many are to be Christmas gifts, so let us know what you or your loved ones think once they’ve been opened.
The rewards we scrupulously picked for our Kickstarter campaign predominately go to supporting local artists. Food plays such a strong role in shaping culture, which is why our work sets out to support the development of ours in North America, but we equally believe artistic expression in its various other forms is as important to building strong communities and culture.
For those of you who are receiving these artistic gifts from our campaign, we ask that you admire the efforts and artistic intelligence that went into them. For those of you reading this who didn’t purchase one of our Kickstarter rewards, wander out into your own community to survey your local arts scene. Grab some inspiration and support a local artist or craftsperson. After all, it’s the holidays and this little act of gratitude for will go a long way.
We wish you all a happy holiday and look forward to sharing the exciting projects coming to the surface in the New Year. Stay safe and eat well!
It seems the dramatic majority of our work in recent time has been developing Oasis Farmery, so we sometimes forget there are readers like yourself who want updates and reflections on this journey. The intention of this blog isn’t to profoundly change your life (although we don’t mind if it does). I think it’s more of an opportunity to update you on the exciting happenings at Oasis Farmery and maybe in all the hay we put out there, you’ll find a nugget of inspiration or thought that will affect you in some way.
We’re excited to get to blogging again and hope you’ll continue to peruse the thoughts we share. There are some exciting projects in the pipeline that you’ll hear about in short time, but until then, thanks for the readership and support. It means the world to us at Oasis Farmery.
What an exciting past couple weeks. July 30th marked the end of the TME Foundry accelerator program that Jake and I have had the great opportunity to take part in. The achievements of the Foundry cohort were celebrated that night at the Foundry Fest, and you could feel the positive energy in the room. That night, live at the event during our presentation, we launched our Kickstarter campaign to raise the $10 000 that we need to expand our aquaponics operation to grow more local and organic fish and vegetables for the region.
Two days later I got married to Anna Haines on a perfect first day of August, and Jake was our MC for the wedding reception. Then Anna and I were off on our honeymoon to Ireland for 9 days, and Jake was off to travel the world as well.
While overseas, Jake and I were able to push the Kickstarter, and have raised over $6000 towards our goal, but we need your help. If we don’t raise our $10 000 goal in the next 12 days, we won’t get any of the money. That’s how Kickstarter works; it’s all or nothing.
So we need your help either in the form of support or by sharing our Kickstarter link to the right people that you know. Watch the video on our Kickstarter for more information or read the Entrevestor article that was written about Oasis Farmery.
One of the many benefits of growing your own food is that it teaches you many lessons. Some of the lessons that I have been reflecting on this week are patience, value, and responsibility.
Food takes time to grow. This is a fact that is easy to forget in this day and age when a 5 minute trip to the grocery store instantly gives us access to food grown across the continent. Even with an aquaponics system speeding up growth, heads of lettuce or kale can still take 4 – 6 weeks before they are ready to harvest. Having this aquaponics system growing food has reminded me that food doesn’t grow instantly, and that I have to be patient with the process and wait to harvest the food.
This also ties in with the value of our food; not only the nutritional value, but how we value our food. Food is important, clearly, as we need nutrition to live our lives, but some people are unable to get the basic nutrition they need. At the same time, large quantities (close to 50% according to a policy brief from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Stockholm International Water Institute, and the International Water Management Institute) of the food produced worldwide is being thrown out. One of the main reasons for this food being wasted is because it doesn’t look perfect. People don’t value misshapen apples or carrots as much as their “normal” counterparts. I think people who grow their own food value food differently. It doesn’t really matter how it looks because you’re just as proud that with your help this life-giving food was grown, and you’re been patiently waiting for it to mature.
Finally, it is quite something to be responsible for the lives of many living creatures. Sure, I have taken care of my dog Biscuit for years now, but she can tell me when something is wrong. Fish and plants are much more sensitive and less obvious about communicating their needs, but I am learning the signals they do give. The process of learning these signals has not been easy, and we have had fish die that we have been nurturing for weeks. With 11 days until our wedding, Anna and I aren’t yet thinking about having children, but I know this responsibility that I feel for the fish and plants in the aquaponics system is just a shadow of the responsibility of raising children. Like raising children, it can be worrisome to have such responsibility, but it can also be very rewarding to see them grow and mature.
When Jake and I started building the aquaponics system several weeks ago, I thought I was going to learn about biology, business, and engineering. I have learned about those things, but I never imagined that it would teach me lessons about life as well. As we continue to work with aquaponics systems over the next months and years to come, Jake and I will not only continue to learn, but will strive to share these lessons with others, especially children.
The pace is picking up at the Oasis Farmery as our days in the Summer Institute Foundry Program slowly check themselves off the calendar. Andrew and I are starting to gear up for our final cohort presentation on July 30 at the Cedar Tree Café, and the process of doing so is reaffirming the significant roles all the Foundry mentors and fellow entrepreneurs are playing in our development.
Just today, Gracen made the bicycle trek, full camera gear in tow, from her place on the South side of Fredericton to the Oasis Farmery on the North side to shoot some photos for our final presentation. And earlier this week, Philip Leblanc took the time to put the final touches on our logo, ensuring every last curve, splatter, and colour coincided with our vision for the company. Without these people, and the many others Andrew’s mentioned in the past, this company wouldn’t look close to what we’re now so proud of.
Propinquity to and cooperation with the right people has made us realize how important it is to bring on new teammates for the exciting year ahead. This week we sat down to speak with two potential candidates for the Oasis Farmery team and were blown away by the enthusiasm we saw for the Oasis Farmery model we’ve built. If those meetings are any reflection of the type of people the Oasis Farmery is going to attract as we continue to expand the team, expanding the impact of this company could happen much more rapidly than first anticipated… and we’re looking forward to it.
If you’re interested in a night of great food, great people, and great ideas, get your name on the list for the final Foundry presentation at the end of the month where we will present our progress with the other great companies in our cohort. Follow this link to register: foundry2014.eventbrite.ca .
After seven days without power, the aquaponics system turned on Friday evening without requiring the portable generator. This hurricane was quite the stress test for the system, but all of the fish survived and the plants are much happier now with a reliable source of water and nutrients. Even without power the tomato plants now have a handful of small green tomatoes where the flowers use to be, which will soon be ripe, red, and ready to eat.
As the plants continue to grow, so do Jake and I. We have had the great opportunity to be one of the five companies in the Technology Management and Entrepreneurship’s (TME) Foundry program this summer. Foundry has allowed us to work with a cohort of young entrepreneurs, get expertise from a variety of mentors, and get the funding we need to get started.
The companies in Foundry are all making a positive impact on people’s lives in very different ways. Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed have started a mental health conscious clothing line called Wear Your Label, Danny Nuguyen is providing Fredericton with delicious Vietnamese food at Beyond Saigon, Kati Waygood of Waygood Mobile Therapy is changing preventative health care, and Anna Haines of Ploome is enriching lives by teaching and selling fiber arts. Jake and I as the Oasis Farmery are part of this great group, and we all teach, support, and provide feedback to each other.
But as young entrepreneurs we only know so much, so Foundry has provided us with mentors that are experts in their fields. These mentors include Rivers Corbett (Serial Entrepreneur, Relish Gourmet Burgers), Philip LeBlanc (Artist & Designer, Fredericton Makerspace), Johnny Leroux (Architect & Designer), Gracen Johnson (Media Relations & Videography), and Dhirendra Shukla (MSc in Chemical Engineering, MBA, PhD, & TME Director).
Through this three month program, Foundry has propelled the Oasis Farmery towards being a successful business by providing us with a group of fellow entrepreneurs to lean on, mentors to guide us, and the money to grow.
We’re very excited to announce a number of new members to the Oasis Farmery family. Wednesday night, a close friend of ours, Gracen Johnson, put on a great vermiculture workshop at the soon-to-be-open Fredericton Makerspace. For those unfamiliar, vemiculture (or vermicompost) is essentially composting with worms. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it produces exceptionally fertile soil for planting, so of course Andrew and I participated alongside all the other worm lovers. It’s safe to say we too are now converts to the worm-loving cult, and we’re pleased to share that we now have two living vermiculture systems running, both of which will eventually be used to support the growth of our plants.
The workshop was an exceptionally exciting night for us, only made more enjoyable by watching all the children light up at the sight of worms and, of course, power tools. Andrew and I think power tools are great too but we’re a little more enthusiastic about finding ways to incorporate these two new working systems into the Oasis Farmery. The worm castings produced can be used on our plants, which mean healthier plants for us and better tasting ones for you!
Another major development this week at Oasis Farmery is our shift towards manufacturing smaller, more manageable aquaponics systems for domestic use. These new miniature systems are some of the easiest and most efficient ways to grow home plants and produce, designed by Andrew so carefully that essentially no setup is required. Grab some fish, fish feed, seeds of your liking, plug in the system, and you’ll be growing aquaponically at home in a snap! If you’d like to know more about these limited stock models, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the promotional code: OASISBLOG in your email for $50 towards your home aquaponics system!
We weathered hurricane Arthur, this hot Fredericton weather hasn’t slowed us down, and we’re about to release our new domestic aquaponics kit. The energy around the Oasis Farmery is infectious and we’re looking forward to some exciting developments in the weeks that lay ahead. Until next time, eat well and be happy!