One day, about four years ago, our dad came into the living room, where our whole family was, with a new idea; he wanted to build an aquaponic greenhouse! We all thought that he was crazy. What did we know about greenhouses? But dad persisted, and we finally agreed to try it as a science experiment. But as dad researched, and read all about it, he became more and more intrigued with the idea. By the time six months had passed, he was so exited, that we decided to make it more than just an experiment, we decided to make it on a larger scale. The plans for the greenhouse became bigger and bigger as time went on. We tested, made mistakes, and tried every possible way to make a sustainable greenhouse for half or even less than half the price of a regular aquaponic greenhouse. We all worked together to build it, even our friends came to help. Everyone believed in what we were trying to accomplish.After about a year of building we finally finished the greenhouse! It was way bigger that any of us had originally thought. We had to go to Alabama to get fish to put in the tanks. We had lettuce, and radishes, herbs and strawberries. We experimented with other plants as well, plants that were not really supposed to grow in a greenhouse. Our turnips grew huge, as well as our radishes. The lettuce was delicious, and grew extra fast. But not everything worked; the strawberries got zebra striping and wouldn't grow well at all.
After a few months of trying different things, my dad started to read about tomatoes. He read all about them, and decided to start growing them. We planted the whole side of the greenhouse with them, and that was when we discovered our great mistake....we had the greenhouse facing the wrong way! With the tomatoes growing tall and thick, they were blocking almost all the sun from the other side! Nothing would grow on that side with the tomatoes there, but there was nothing we could do until we had harvested them.
We then heard of a farmers market down town, where you could sell your produce for free. So we talked to the head person of the place and she said that she would love for us to sell there. We were so exited! We could actually make some money from all the hard work that we had done!
On the day of the farmers market, we got up at 5:00am to get ready to go. We packed the tomatoes that we had boxed the night before, into the truck, along with other things we might need (table, sign, a scale etc.), and we headed out.
We got there by 7:00am. Everyone was setting up their stands and produce quickly before the market started at 8:00. We got ours up and ready just in time for the first customers to arrive.
It was a great turnout! We had completely sold out by 11:00am. There was nothing left to do but to clean up and go home. The next week was the same, only dad had to go back to the house to get two more buckets of tomatoes....and we still sold out by 11:00. We had just enough vegetables to sell one more week, but after that we had no more. Some of the people there were disappointed. They had come back every week to get our tomatoes.
We were very sorry to leave, but we decided to try it again next year, and here we are, working on growing enough produce to sell the whole year.
We ended up tearing down our old greenhouse, and building a new one (the one in the picture). It is facing the right way, and we are hoping that it will do well enough to grow vegetables in for years to come. :)