Aquapalooza Weekend Part 2: The Murray Hallam Aquaponics Workshop

This post is a continuation of my attempt to describe the wonderful, intense, aquaponics-filled, four days I spent last Saturday through Tuesday. In this post we talk about the 6 hour long Aquaponics Made Easy workshop at the Denver Botanic Garden with the Australian star of the ‘Aquaponics Made Easy’ and ‘Aquaponics Secrets’ videos, Murray Hallam.

I picked up a tired, but upbeat Murray at the Denver Airport Saturday night after a bit of a scare. I had sent him a note that we would meet at baggage claim, but his flight got in hour early (gotta love Frontier Airlines). I left my house in what I thought was plenty of time to be there to beat him to the carousels, but you can only imagine my dismay when I got to Frontier baggage claim and there was not a soul in sight! Not only was the flight an hour early, but the bags had come in, been claimed and EVERYONE, including my charge, had left! After some frantic phone calls (Murray’s phone didn’t work in Denver) and walking up to several men who kinda sorta looked like him and asking if they were Murray, I decided to go down a level and check outside in the passenger pickup area. There he was, sitting alone on a bench, considering his options for catching a cab and finding a hotel. A less than auspicious beginning.

Murray Hallam and bell siphonThe drive home was relaxing; minus the missed turn-off onto the expressway (how many times have I made that drive?). Miraculously he seemed energetic, especially given his trans-hemispheric flight and a long workshop he gave in Oceanside, California earlier that day. We got to Boulder at about 11:30 p.m. and agreed to meet in the kitchen at 7 a.m. for breakfast.

We left without incident the next morning, although I confess to making yet another wrong turn on the way to the Denver Botanic Gardens (what was the matter with me!). The sold-out room was spacious and well organized. Celia, the head of programming, met us as planned and most importantly, the projector worked!

The Murray Hallam aquaponics workshop went off without a hitch. Murray is exactly the same affable Aussie in person that he personifies in his videos. His presentation was an entertaining blend of useful aquaponics information and words-of-wisdom resulting from many years of experimentation. It was broken up with expertly told stories best expressed with an Australian accent and sprinkled liberally with ‘mate’ and ‘bugger’. Midway through, I gave a short presentation on plant lighting and felt badly for taking Murray away from his rapt audience for even a short while. Here is a 5 minute video of Murray describing his first days with aquaponics, in order to make my point. How Murray Hallam Got Into Aquaponics

Murray and JD Sawyer at GrowHaus

Murray and JD Sawyer at GrowHaus

The day was capped off with a visit to GrowHaus, an old greenhouse complex in a food desert in Denver that is being re-born through the efforts of some dedicated people. JD Sawyer from Colorado Aquaponics explained the workings of his Growing Power style system and his new flood and drain systems. Despite the 114 degree heat inside the facility, it was a great way to cap off the day.

On the drive back to Boulder I asked Murray how he felt the day went. “All I can say is I sure had fun” he replied with a smile. I’m willing to bet everyone else did as well.

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