Aquaponics: Weirdo’s Farm at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn has an exciting common room that features a Little Martin guitar, a unique custom log bar with matching stools, two colorful handmade hula hoops, and a bookshelf that features a plethora of reading from Rod McKuen poetry to a book of black and white photos of Jacqueline Kennedy. Out of all features, the aquaponics project usually draws a crowd.

A lot of our guests are entertained by curiosity, nature, and knowledge. One guest commented about aquaponics, “It has all the entertainment thrills of a sports bar full of television screens. It just doesn’t have the deep fried onion rings.” Another guest wanted to know why I named the fish after Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. To me it’s obvious — Jackie O was so elegant that I want GABI guests to envision her, instead of a dirty little fish from tropics, defecating on their spinach .

The components of aquaponics include botany, horticulture, hydroponics, and photosynthesis.

Guests are encouraged to spend several days at GABI to learn about aquaponics. Below is a list of different ways to have fun with aquaponics devised by Sean Mullen, Cornell University:

1. Identify components of the biotic and abiotic environment

2. Learn to differentiate between heterotrophic and autotrophic organisms

3. Understand nutrient cycling (nitrogen cycling in particular)

4. Measure levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate

5. Measure plant growth

6. Construct graphs of nutrient levels and plant growth rates (can supply crayons, sharpies, and butcher paper)

7. Generate a poem about the impact of nutrients on plant growth and we’ll post it on our blog.

A play pen of horny rabbits is the only educational system that could possibly be more entertaining then aquaponics. Besides giving hostelers something to do when not exploring the Chugach Mountains, aquaponics…

1. Can inspire people to further their education as seen in the below video.

2. Will improve a person’s health. Doctors have known for years that simply placing an aquarium in a waiting room will lower patients’ blood pressure and anxiety while they wait to receive prescriptions for their anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Can give a glimpse into what life will be like on Mars. Until McDonalds opens a restuarant on Mars, planetary pioneers are going to have to eat something. Nasa thinks aquaponics could be the answer.

4. Will provide a source of light and fresh vegetables during the long cold dark Alaskan winter.

For the past couple of years, I have had a desire to become a farmer. The aquaponics project has allowed me to start a small spinach, bamboo and basil farm. Here are some pictures of Weirdo’s Farm.

Weirdo’s Farm and Cafe

Side view

Weirdo’s fish are named Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

growing basil, spinach, broccoli, strawberries, bamboo

spinach and broccoli

Jackie O says, children who eat spinach will grow up Weird and Strong

There are many different aquaponic systems.  Because of space limitations and issues of aesthetics, Weirdo’s Farm is somewhat patterned off Earth Solutions aquaponic systems and an article found at

Weirdo’s Farm and Cafe for one day is renaming the fish to Rebeca Suarez, Larry Whittle, Tara Hall, Mark Quinn, Tabor Kluza, Lynn Zeller, Cheri Darling-Perata, Annie Berical, Karlito Franz, Robin Doll, Jean Calomeni, Patricia Moore, and Mike Roberts.  In honor of friends who support Follettry.  THANK YOU!!

Thank You Jackie O

New Jackie O logo by Chris Mecham. Thanks Chris!

7 responses to “Aquaponics: Weirdo’s Farm at Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

  1. Pingback: Aquaponics Video: Jackie O Poops on my Salad « Earthworm Envy

  2. Hi Bobby,
    My name is Monique and i met you last month when i went to a co. christmas party at the hotel Alyeska. You were such a gracious host while I awaited the arrival of my friends from anchorage. I find it ironic to see you are involved in aquaponics. I am very interested in starting a larger farm on the Kenai and am wondering if i could have the honor of meeting with you sometime next week for some guidance of how to begin such A farm. I truly believe this new trend can change the world for the better. Thanks for being you. MoMo

    • Howdy MoMo,

      My name is Brandon. There isn’t a Bobby involved with Earthworm Envy. I use to live in Girdwood, AK. You are right, if a trend started where everyone tried to behave like earthworms the world would be more beautiful. I wish you safe travels and happy farming.


  3. How do you keep the water from freezing at winter, and what kind of species are suitable for a barrel or 260 gallon tank setup in a cold cilmate?

  4. Inspiring! I’m coming to Girdwood this week from Kodiak . Would love to stop by and talk aquaponics. Just starting and learning. Can you email me how to get hold of you. Thanks

    • I’m glad you like the Weirdo’s Farm blog post. I no longer live in Girdwood, AK. If you are ever in Cambria, CA look me up. Let’s go out to coffee and talk about aquaponics.

  5. Pingback: Aquaponics Video: Jackie O Poops on my Salad | The Mental Foreplay Experience

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