For those of you who have already taken the course you might be saying to yourself ‘how could that be?’ The Green Acres Aquaponic Farming course has now been taught four times and to over 200 students. After each course the students fill out an evaluation, and 100% have said that they would recommend the course to a friend, and the overall rating of the course has averaged 9.6 out of 10. I am confident, without hesitation, that it is the best Aquaponic Farming course being taught anywhere in the world today for those aspiring to become professional aquaponic farmers. Why?
- The Teaching Approach The stated goal of the Green Acres course is to enable students to build and profitably run their own aquaponics farms and business when they return home. To do this, the course approaches aquaponic farming education from all angles. Everyday starts with classroom lectures on both aquaponics and business topics. After lunch we go to the farm for extensive, hands-on sessions in small groups. Each student is handed a thick binder of information on Day 1 that contains a comprehensive manual for building and running a farm. It also contains every slide used in the lecture portion of the course, and a series of articles about useful topics such as ‘How to Market at a Farmer’s Market?’ and food safety matters. Photography is encouraged. Nothing is held back. Your success is our success.
- The Teaching Team This course is taught be seasoned professionals who have not only had high-level careers prior to aquaponics, but are now running successful, profitable aquaponics businesses. The course is led by Gina Cavalliero, the Managing Director of Green Acre’s Aquaponics Farm and the current Chair of the Aquaponics Association. Prior to forming Green Acres, Gina was the founder and CEO of a large construction firm. Gina is joined by JD Sawyer, founder and president of Colorado Aquaponics and the aquaponics farm at Denver’s GrowHaus, and the director of the 2012 Aquaponics Association Annual Conference in Denver. Prior to forming Colorado Aquaponics, JD spent eight years as the Director of Operations at Johnson & Wales University. The third member of the teaching team is Sylvia Bernstein, author of Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together and the founder and president of The Aquaponic Source. Sylvia is the former Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for AeroGrow International. We all live and breathe aquaponics professionally as full-time businesses and have all done so for years.
- The Farm Model The Green Acres Aquaponic Farm is an amazing place. It integrates six different aquaponic growing techniques into a single, flexible hybrid farm system optimized to supply the demands of their ever-changing local market as efficiently as possible. This is actually where the course just got better! Until recently the farm featured four techniques: deep water culture (DWC), media-based, nutrient film technique (NFT), and vertical stackers. This month these innovative ladies have added two more growing methods: vertical towers, and wicking beds! When you take the Green Acres Course you will not only learn how to build and integrate these into your own farm system, but you will learn the pros and cons of each, and which systems work best for different plants.
- Profitability I’ve heard many times now that aquaponic farming by itself isn’t the difficult part. The challenge is in making aquaponic farming a profitable business. The Green Acres team has done just that. They’ve discovered the secret to profitability through low cost set-up and operation, the selection of the most productive method to grow each plant, and, most importantly, marketing produce by forming a ‘tribe’ of those who give you permission to engage them on a regular basis and identifying and serving their needs. Again, students complete the Green Acres Course understanding how to apply all of this to their own farm.
The next Green Acres Aquaponic Farming: Complete Course will be taught during two identical, back-to-back four-day courses Feb 23-26 and Feb 28-March 3 in Brooksville, FL. A one-day Aquaponics Basics course is being taught by me before each session (February 22 and 27) for students for whom aquaponics is still a fairly new concept. For more information, or to register for the course, please go to TheFarmRevolution.com.
I hope to see you in Florida!