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.
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!!