AESL Sustainability Farm Project at Seagoville High School

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Gay Bingham has a passion to teach sustainability to her students in the Agricultural and Environmental Department at Seagoville High School and her community. She came eagerly to the AESL farm and wanted to create a somewhat identical version of our model on the school grounds.

 

Later the administration of the school came to visit the AESL farm. They were all very excited and wanted to start with the project right away. After months of preparation, clearing land, and building Gay has never lost her passion to share the vision.

 

The school now has an incredible plot of land for expansion. It is completely fenced in with a beautiful greenhouse, evaporative cooling, fresh water and underground fish waste water system for making tons of compost for all the garden areas.

 

Nursery tanks are now working and most of the breeding tanks have been set up. Baby  fry are already appearing!  The square foot gardens are being built outside with plans to one day fill, step by step,  the entire fenced in area.

 

Although this journey to sustainability will bring a lot of additions, students eagerly want to participate.

 

Since the need is so great in our community, state, nation, and world we want to share our experiences on this page so that all can learn from our communications.

 

We are honored to be a part of this great project as students, farmers, and friends are already getting involved. We hope you enjoy the interactions and we invite you to enter into some of our discussions. We plan to share plenty of pictures and updates to bring a lot of excitement and above all, knowledge for developing sustainable farms.

 

Yours for sustainability,

 

John Musser

President and Co-founder of AESL

33 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Mrs. Binghamreply
September 18, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Thanks John for your guidance in our program. Look forward to seeing our scholars input as well. 😉

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 09:09 PM
– In reply to: Mrs. Bingham

We are happy to be part of your vision. I’m very excited about student’s blogging and asking key questions especially this early in the season. They will have ‘hands on’ experience all year long. Everything will take place right before their eyes; this is the best way to learn. They are learning about baby fry, putting together a sq. foot garden and next composting!

Megntexasreply
September 18, 2012 at 04:09 PM

What a great opportunity for youth to get training and hands-on experience in organic gardening! I wish my high school had offered such a great program as this. Thanks for sharing the process with us.

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM
– In reply to: Megntexas

I agree Megan. These young people are learning the farming of the future. People are traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands just to learn what they are getting in this program.

Jose C. Ramirezreply
September 25, 2012 at 09:09 PM

I was wondering how the water from one of the tanks hot to the underground tanks?

Fishmaster Chrisreply
September 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM

What do you recommend for contolling the algae in our nursery tanks?

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Fist of all, have enough fish in the tank to eat it. Tilapia will eat it night and day, 24/7. In fact I raised some fish on just algae — all year long! Our greenhouse needs a shade cloth to restrict a little sunlight also.

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM
– In reply to: admin

Now that I gave one answer. Here is a more thought out and edited help for you. With our outdoor large tanks at AESL we use algae for several reasons and even add nutrients to make it flourish but in glass tanks it can overgrow. Let’s see What Causes Algae Overgrowth?

Like any plant life, algae thrives on three basic necessities: water, sunlight and nutrients. If an excess of any are available, algae will grow like crazy, just like weeds growing in a garden.

We can’t do without water in our aquariums, but we can control the amount of light and nutrients are in the water. Here are the common reasons for algae overgrowth.
Lights left on too long
• Aquarium in a location with direct sunlight
• Overfeeding the fish water
• Using water with high nutrients

Avoiding Algae Overgrowth: Knowing the causes of algae overgrowth is the first half of the battle. Here is what you should do to avoid overgrowth.

• Reduce Lighting – Don’t place the tank where there is direct sunlight, for even part of the day. Sunlight can, and will, promote algae growth. When using artificial light make sure it is not stronger than necessary, and is not on more than about eight hours each day. To ensure that, use a timer to turn the lights on and off each day. We need shade cloth, this will help!
• Feed Less – The majority of people overfeed fish, this increases the phosphate levels in the water. Feed small portions and watch the fish eat. If all the food isn’t eaten in five minutes, you are feeding too much. Always remove any uneaten food as we have demonstrated.
• Water Changes – The single most important way to avoid algae is to perform regular water changes. Change ten to fifteen percent of your aquarium water every week to keep nutrients in the water low.
• Know Your Water – Test your water source. If it is high in phosphates. It’s wise to also test for nitrates, as some water sources have elevated nitrates. Make sure you do not over clean the bio-fiter and remove beneficial bacterial.
• Clean It Up – If you see algae beginning to grow on the glass, rocks, or other hard surfaces of the tank, remove it. clean the glass, , and vacuum bottom when you perform water changes.
• Keep Live Plants – Live plants will use many of the nutrients that algae thrive upon. Fewer nutrients means there is less fuel for algae overgrowth.

If all else fails add more fish to eat the algae. Tilapia are algae eaters!

Fishmaster Chrisreply
September 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM

Mrs. Bingham told me that you have a special recipe that fry love. Would you mind sharing it with me?

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 08:09 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

The recipe we give usually comes in our special trainings on breeding. I can give more details later. Crush up the small fish (Tilapia) pellets, due to the fact they have more nutrition, in a bowl. Mix in one egg and gelatin mix then pour in small/shallow pan. Now stir in the crushed pellets until they are completely covered by the gelatin. Let set and harden in the fridge. Cut into very small chucks and put in nursery tanks. The gelatin keeps the food from rotting as fast and gets fry to double size in the first three months. It will take a few practices to get this down, but then it will become easy.

adminreply
September 27, 2012 at 10:09 PM
– In reply to: admin

Types and size of feeds newly hatched fry are given a complete diet of powdered feed or better yet the feeding secret I just gave you.The feed needs to be high in protein (about 50 percent) and energy to meet the demands of the fast growing fry. I like to keep fry on the AESL special recipe for at least two months, three is better! Then go to a small floating pellet. Then when they are juveniles give a larger pellet for grow out unless you are raising Broodstock.

Feed size is gradually increased in relation to growth. A good rule to follow is, “small fish, small feed; large fish, large feed”. However, Tilapia prefer smaller size feed than other commonly cultured species, such as salmon, trout or catfish. Also more often, due to small stomachs. They graze like cattle. This is important to remember. Also —- when they are healthy they will eat like lions!

Floating pellets are the preferred type because they allow us to observe feeding responses. Just net away uneaten food after ten minutes or so.
Additionally, the processing method used in making floating pellets increases the amount of energy available to Tilapia.

Mrs. Binghamreply
October 03, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Jose, I will show you tomorrow how the water gets to the underground tanks.
We have had more fish born (hatched). I think the cooler weather prompted it.
What do y’all think??

adminreply
October 07, 2012 at 08:10 PM
– In reply to: Mrs. Bingham

Exciting news!
Normally the cold weather stops breeding but the mother must have released them due to ten days of mouth brooding being fulfilled.
The recommended water temperature for Breeding Tilapia is 28-30 degrees C (82-86 degrees F)

adminreply
October 07, 2012 at 08:10 PM

Can’t express how happy we are to be using the underground waste water tanks for making compost after the AESL Micro farm pattern. The containers are large enough to handle an entire micro farm of fertilizer starter. When this water is sprayed on leaves, shredded paper, straw from the chicken shed, the decomposing in cut in half or more. Red worms love it and feast upon it. We also used this water to seed the entire garden. This is done only once a year with straight fish waste. Then we sprayed on un-sulfured molasses to feed the microbes. The beds are now living grow beds! Then the final touch the compost tea/brew soaked on top. Now the garden is READY FOR PLANTING! Soon we will demonstrate how to make fish mulch with composted cow patties. One of the greatest fertilizers available, for free!

Fishmaster Chrisreply
October 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Mr. Musser i was wondering..could you show me how to run the bio barrels at our greenhouse? because i know you are busy and we seem to have a problem with the water running out of them and them not staying calibrated at the right water level, so if i knew how to do it you wouldnt have to be called out everytime one stops, thanks

adminreply
October 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Chris,
I will be out this coming week. Once of the greatest needs is to keep the tanks at a certain water level. The injectors must be below water as this not only provides air but keeps the bio barrel from draining. Then no one can walk around and pull at the hose, as it they will easily loose suction. I’m looking into a way that will be not so prone to loosing suction.

Fishmaster Chrisreply
October 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM

I cant believe how many fry our tilapia are producing! Our nursery tanks are quickly filling up:)

adminreply
October 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Chris,
This is the exciting part breeding Tilapia fish. It takes a while but when you learn the process they multiply like few fish do. One small female less than six inches long can produce about three hundred fry. In less than a week they can be pregnant again and cycle in about ten days.
This is how we can have a glass 55 gallon tank or as you have at the school a 29 gallon tank and potentially raise thousands a month. Five females’ times 300 equals 1,500 fry, just once a month! Twice a month which is possible with good care, doubles this about. These are real figures when a brood is kept safe and at optimum health.
This is one of the reasons at AESL we train people to sex and sort fish at Juvenile stage. Then males are taken to tanks to just grow-out for harvest. Females would take much longer to get real big due to the fact they are producing fry all the time.

Mrs. Binghamreply
October 23, 2012 at 02:10 PM

Well, we have now planted the garden after some doses of compost tea and another layer of compost. We had about 200 babies collected from the broodmasters last week.

We are eagerly looking forward tio the collards, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and cantaloupes.

adminreply
October 27, 2012 at 12:10 PM
– In reply to: Mrs. Bingham

Cant wait to see the crops!

adminreply
October 27, 2012 at 01:10 PM
– In reply to: Mrs. Bingham

After the crops have fairly good root systems make a good batch of compost tea and soak all of the them to run off. This will put them in a fast growth mode. You will be shocked is just days to see the difference. Put the mix at 60/40. Sixty percent compost tea.

adminreply
October 27, 2012 at 08:10 PM
– In reply to: Mrs. Bingham

You are all doing a great job!

Fishmaster Chrisreply
October 28, 2012 at 09:10 AM

I will be putting up shade cloth next week to try and help control tha algae blooms in some of our fry tanks. Also would it be a good idea to maybe bring in a few plecostemus (algae eaters) to help keep the tanks clean of debris?

Fishmaster Chrisreply
October 28, 2012 at 09:10 AM

Mr. Musser i figured out how to run the bio barrels..i must say its a great filter:) and they do lose suction easily so i have to restart them every now and again but it works

Fishmaster Chrisreply
November 13, 2012 at 03:11 PM

i love the way that the big bio barrel is set up at our greenhouse, it is more efficient.
Also i took home another batch of about 150 fry and they are quickly growing and i will be bringing them back in January to put in one of the growth tubs.

Fishmaster Chrisreply
November 21, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Mr. musser i was wondering how do you sex tilapia? my tilapia at home are nearing 3 to 4 inches long and will be ready to breed in a couple of months and i wanted to know which ones are which

adminreply
December 09, 2012 at 06:12 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Chris,
I will get back with you! I wrote a long article to you and lost it. In the Next weeks we hope to begin training on breeding.

Fishmaster Chrisreply
January 01, 2013 at 11:01 PM

mr.musser i had brought home a blue tub from school that we had just laying around so that i could have a bigger spot for my tilapia because they are exceeding 5 inches now so they are close to maturity. but i found a crack in the bottom of the tub and i dont want to throw it away….any cost friendly ideas on how to seal the crack??

adminreply
April 12, 2013 at 01:04 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

Yes, this can be sealed with a fish safe crack sealer.

Fishmaster Chrisreply
January 16, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Mr. musser i have been feeding my tilapia a new food i bought at a tractor supply store and mrs. bingham wanted me to find out if it meets the standards of the food you use because its a high protein food and its cheap too. ill send her the info about it and she will send it to you. also we really need more food for the greenhouse we ran out.

adminreply
April 12, 2013 at 01:04 PM
– In reply to: Fishmaster Chris

We order a premium food in bulk you can buy from us in bulk and it’s very cost effective, breeder food is more expensive. Also it is not good to buy too much as it will breed worms and spoil bio-filters. The big thing is to make sure the feed is GMO free. Breeders need the premium feed we handle. It took up years to find this feed and years of testing. Just like chickens need additional nutrients to kick out the eggs so it is with breeding Tilapia.

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