Tag Archives: accomodations

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 Aquaponics.com.

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!

Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn says, “NO to Smoking.”

physician smoking Lucky Strikes


Please don’t use the excuse that physicians say, “It’s Toasted”

Ronald Reagan slipped your grandma the big Chesterfield

and that George W. Bush encourages children

in 3rd world countries

to enjoy “Made in the USA.”

At GABI “JUST SAY NO” to smoking.

Even Nancy sometimes says, "Oh YES."

Even Nancy sometimes says, "Oh YES to Pleasure"

At GABI we understand that “YES” is sometimes more fun then “NO.” We ask that all questionable activities be enjoyed on the public property adjacent to the hostel.

The Anchorage Daily Press Writes about Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn

New Backpackers Inn in Girdwood a friend to Earth

The Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn has opened as a hostel in Girdwood. The hostel has capacity for 39 guests, with five private rooms with double beds and a bunk, and dorm-room beds in separate male and female quarters, said Amy Johnson, co-manager.

Owner James Boring, who also owns the Alaska Backpackers Inn in Anchorage, said he aims to make the inn the first hostel to be granted a Gold-Level LEED for Homes rating for energy-efficient construction techniques and environmentally friendly operations. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the criteria for being LEED certified is strict, he said. Boring said planned and existing features of the hostel include low-flow/dual flushing toilets, passive solar heating and use of locally available, recycled building materials. It also has incorporated use of alternative energy sources, soy foam insulation and energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances.

Brandon Follett co-manages the inn at 365 Gold Ave., near the Tesoro station along the Seward Highway, along with Johnson. The phone is 727-4678, and the Web site is www.hostelgirdwood.com.

LEED Certification UPDATE

A Girdwood Alaska Backpackers Inn guest writes to Mr. Smith at the Turnagain Times

TO: Ken Smith

I greatly enjoyed your Turnagain Times article about the new Girdwood Alaska Backbacker Inn. I am almost 68 and had the opportunity to stay there the past two days and enjoy the charming town of Girdwood, Alaska.
Single seniors today are also travelers and learning about the world and hosteling as a way of travel. I have been a member of Hosteling International (HI) since 1986 and over the years stayed at hostels in the U.S., Thailand, Nepal, throughout Latin America, Canada, and Europe. The real joy of hosteling is meeting people from many places, learning about their lives and cultures, getting ideas about which direction to go next and sharing the same with fellow hostelers. Hostels provide a safe, clean, and friendly environment plus a kitchen to cook and enjoy meals together. Sharing dorms with people of the same sex encourages a comfortable, respectful travel style.
Hosteling International (HI), a non-profit organization, was founded 100 years ago; the beautiful new Girdwood hostel is a perfect example of a hostel well managed by enthusiastic and committed managers, Amy and Brandon. They add creative environmental awareness as well as plans for art and music workshops. They taught me about worm composting, aquaponics, and other environmental practices.
I hope your article will bring more awareness to travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Hosteling is no longer just for the young – it is for people of all ages who are interested in learning about our beautiful world and all its people.

Jeanne Devine, a long-term HI member from Tempe, Arizona