Are YOU ready to join the Farm Revolution ?

Why you should go small first

Murray Hallam and Gina Cavailero in her Aquaponics Greenhouse

There’s been a lot of interest about commercial aquaponics recently and some discussion about how big should such a system be to become viable? Big is always best right? Not necessarily. If you envisage one of those broad acre hydroponic farms that seems to run for acres and acres off into the distance then you might be surprised that this is not the solution or even the future of aquaponics.
Speaking with Murray Hallam recently about commercial aquaponics, he sees this future very differently. Murray is big on small scale aquaponics that offers a secure future to the mum and dad operators running their own relaxed lifestyle but selling their produce not to big agri-business food chains, but directly into the community. Farmers markets, produce sold directly to restaurants, even food sold to other local food suppliers that redistribute your produce directly to the community.

This method seems to be the way to go forward.

Gina Cavaliero from Green Acre Organics is one such person doing the direct to restaurants route. If you thought the process would be difficult to secure a contract of direct sales like we did, then you are in for a surprise. Gina cannot supply enough food to meet the need in her local community. It seems fresh produce in peak condition is a much sought after commodity.

One of the smart things Gina did was to first build a mini micro aquaponics system. In her backyard you will find a very small floating raft system connected to a round outdoor pool fish tank. Here Gina is able to cleverly test out a range of produce from herbs to lettuce to test and discover what grows well in her neck of the woods. Living in Florida helps too. But until you test a range of of boutique produce you will never know exactly how well those greens will grow based on your climate conditions. A micro floating raft system gave Gina the necessary clues to what would work well in her larger system.

Building a small micro-system first is a clever inexpensive thing to do. No sales person or marketing guru can tell you exactly what to grow in your climate. You will need to do your own homework first. Some level of filtration is needed on even a basic small system like this.

The plants and fish are a litmus test to the experimental nature of determining the optimal growing conditions for her test plants. Of course in her main greenhouse the usual rules of filtration apply. Gina features even a degassing tank to heavily oxygenate any methane present in the system before the water is sent off to her floating rafts. But building a micro system is a terrific idea before taking the heavy investment in up-scaling to a larger more expensive commercial system.

Gina even lightly stocks her big tank with tilapia. There is no problem with the fish supplying enough nutrients to keep the plants well fed. Lightly stocking your tank with fish can also be less stressful to the farmer should something break down resulting in heavy fish losses which seems to have a compounding problem in heavily stocked tanks. Heavily stocked tanks also require critical attention to filtration and fish oxygen demand. Sometimes a lighter approach to aquaponic farming can be less stressful and more therapeutic and still yield good plant growth.

Incidentally Gina Cavaliero along with Sylvia Bernstein and Murray Hallam will join forces for a small scale commercial aquaponics class nextApril in 2012 in Florida.Murray Hallam will also reveal how to build a hybrid media system he calls FloMedia right into your floating raft system. The idea is that for the small commercial farmer wanting to grow a broader range of plants and vegetables, even root crops, FloMedia can be expanded to use fish nutrients along with your conventional system. This raises the opportunity for farmers to trial a broader range of fruit trees and larger plants in their locality.

In April of 2012, Green Acre Organics proudly presents the training that will reshape farming forever….

Learn the methods, understand the science, discover the business, and become part of the movement that will relocalize sustainable food production. This is not an academic class taught by professors or consultants, but rather a hands-on practical class designed to teach you everything you need to know to run your own successful aquaponic farm. The innovators at Green Acre are joined by Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics and Sylvia Bernstein of The Aquaponic Source for this comprehensive, hands-on approach to aquaponic farming.
“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.”
Abraham Lincoln

Today’s health conscious consumers hunger for good, clean, locally grown food and this course teaches the entrepreneur or “farmpreneur” how to build a business to meet those needs. Australian Murray Hallam, the media growing guru of DIY Aquaponics fame has this to say about the course:
“Our approach is that Aquaponics is a balanced ECO system…. through a family farm. Ordinary people can do it. You do not need a million dollars, or highly mechanized, spinning componentry to grow your own food for yourself and your community.”

Watch this video to hear more of Murray’s thoughts about aquaponic farming.

The Green Acre family farm is the model that this team will teach students to replicate. A successful Aquaponics Farm since 2010, Green Acres does this for a living every day. Recognizing the value of integrating media bed growing into raft (DWC) technology, their hybrid aquaponics design optimizes nutrient density by allowing the additional metabolization of valuable solids typically removed from DWC systems. Why remove the most valuable element in an aquaponic system when it can be utilized to produce better and more abundant growth? This growth translates into one thing, more sellable product, elevating your bottom line.
Elevating your bottom line, now that’s a concept any business person can appreciate. Enter Sylvia Bernstein. An integral part in any family farm is the business aspect. Like Murray says, ordinary people can do it, but they also need to have the tools and skills to manage the business and market their product. Sylvia, is the former VP of Marketing for AeroGrow International with a Masters in Business from the top business school in the U.S., and the author of the best selling* book, Aquaponic Gardening says:
“We provide the whole package. This is an all inclusive aquaponic course. The hands on and the how to coupled with business management essentials makes this all the training anyone will need to start their own aquaponics farm.”

We are also offering an optional Bonus Session on Sustainable Greenhouse Design and
Saving and Adapting Seeds

With Penn and Cord Parmenter

For only an additional $200 and one more day (on the back-end if you sign up for Session 1 or the front end if you are in Session 2) you can walk away with a complete set of plans and the know-how to build your very own passive solar greenhouse. You can even use recycled materials! PLUS, you will learn how to save and adapt your own seeds, reducing your costs and increasing the quality of your crops.

  • Our program is taught by people who are not only aquaponics business people and farmers, but also industry leaders. We do aquaponics for a living every day.
  • Our goal is not to sell you systems or consulting services at the end of this course. Our goal is to have you walk away with all the knowledge you need to start your own successful aquaponics farm.
  • Our approach is to teach you about all the growing methods currently available – DWC, media, NFT, and Vertical – so you can design your farm to fit your market.
  • Our process is organized and structured. Your time is valuable and you are paying your hard-earned money for this course. We guarantee that if we say that we will go over something on the schedule below…we will.
  • We offer additional training in greenhouse building and seed saving!

The Syllabus

We have designed this course to be a logical progression that builds on itself over the four days. Morning sessions will be held classroom style in a very comfortable, local community center. Each morning session will start with an aquaponically focused set of lessons, followed by a set of business lessons. Then we break for lunch, which will be provided from a local, organic cafe. Afternoon sessions will be at Green Acre Organics Farm. They will be broken out into smaller groups so that all students get front row, hands on time with their instructors. Each group will rotate through all segments.

Day 1

  • Morning – Classroom
    • Aquaponics – The basics
      • The Nitrogen Cycle
      • The Role of pH
      • Water quality
      • Dissolved Oxygen
      • Important ratios
    • Business – What you need to consider before becoming a farmer
      • Understand your market!
      • Types of distribution channels
      • Can you actually sell your fish?
      • Legal structures
      • Zoning regulations
  • Afternoon – Hands on at Green Acres
    • Water Quality and Testing
    • Seeding
    • Plant handling and insect control
    • Fish handling

Day 2

  • Morning – Classroom
    • Aquaponics – Systems Design
      • System types – DWC, media, NFT, vertical
      • Combining system types
      • Component selection
      • Construction tips
      • Water flow and pumps
    • Business – Marketing
      • What is your USP?
      • Form a tribe
      • Pricing theory, supply vs. demand
      • Social media “advertising”
      • The value of creating an email list and sending out newsletters
      • Display / packaging / branding
  • Afternoon – Hands on at Green Acres
    • System construction
    • Fish Tanks/connections
    • DWC or raft bed construction Media bed construction
    • Seedling system construction

Day 3

  • Morning – Classroom
    • Aquaponics – Plumbing and Maintenance
      • Water flow and pumps
      • Plumbing it all together
      • System maintenance
    • Business – Your online presence
      • I’m a farmer…why do I need a website?
      • The importance of your URL
      • Establishing your website
      • SEO basics
  • Afternoon – Hands on at Green Acres
    • System plumbing
    • Vertical and NFT Systems
    • System maintenance

Day 4

  • Morning – Classroom
    • Aquaponics – The Growing Environment
      • Farm Biosecurity and HAACP practices
      • Green house considerations
      • Heating in the winter
      • Lighting
    • Business – “Sell” is not a 4-letter word!
      • How to sell at Farmer’s Markets
      • How to establish a CSA/Buying Club
      • How to approach Restaurants
  • Afternoon – Hands on at Green Acres
    • Wrap up and final Q&A

The Instructors

Gina Cavaliero and Tonya Penick of Green Acre Organics

Green Acre Organics is one of the first commercial aquaponic farms in Florida. At Green Acre, Gina manages farm operations, their Green Acre Organics For You! produce club and also their aquaponic training program, where entrepreneurs are taught how to replicate the Green Acre model and operate the hybridized aquaponic family farm. Gina serves as the inaugural Chairman for the Aquaponics Association and is dedicated to the mission of advancing aquaponics for her fellow members and industry. Before becoming an aquaponic farmer, Gina was the co-owner and managing director of a multi-million dollar producing construction contracting firm. Gina received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida in Anthropology with a minor in Education.

Tonya Penick is the behind the scenes force of Green Acre Organics. With a 23 year construction history, Tonya is the system engineer and hands on element in the Green Acre operation. Tonya was the co-owner and operations manager of the duo’s semi-national construction firm.

Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics

Murray is probably the most well known face in the world-wide aquaponics movement. He discovered aquaponics in 2006, and immediately put his fiberglass and boat-building skills to work to build and sell aquaponics systems and equipment through Practical Aquaponics in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He is perhaps best know over here, however, for his outstanding aquaponics video series: Aquaponics Made Easy, Aquaponics Secrets, and the recently released DIY Aquaponics. Murray is the Chairman of the Australian Chapter of the Aquaponics Association.

Sylvia Bernstein of The Aquaponic Source

Sylvia is the president of The Aquaponic Source , she runs the Aquaponic Gardening Community, and is the Chairman of the U.S. Chapter of the Aqupaonics Association. She is also the author of “Aquaponic Gardening: A Step by Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together” . Before aquaponics, she was the VP of Marketing and Product Development at AeroGrow International, where she was one of the founding team members. Sylvia has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Agricultural and Managerial Economics from the University of California at Davis.


  • $1195 for registration before February 22
  • $1295 for registration between February 23 and March 22
  • $1395 for registration between March 23 and April 21
  • $200 discount for second family or project member (see Options above “add to cart” button)
  • $200 for the Bonus Sustainable Greenhouse Design and Saving and Adapting Seeds course (click here)
  • Cancellation policy Requests for cancellation of registration must be received in writing. Cancellations received by April 1, 2011, will be subject to a cancellation fee of 15%, which will be deducted from the refund. No refund will be made for cancellation requests received after April 1. If the event needs to be cancelled because of an unforseen cause beyond the organizers control (such as Acts of God, fire, strikes, and natural disasters, etc.) you will be refunded your registration fee less 15% to cover incurred organizational costs


(note: each Session is independent. Session 2 is identical to Session 1)
  • Session 1 – April 21 – April 24
  • Optional Bonus Section on Sustainable Greenhouse Design and Saving and Adapting Seeds – April 25
  • Session 2 – April 26 – April 29


8:00 am – 5:00 pm


Because we strongly believe that the personal experience of actually being in the class and interacting with the systems, the instructors and fellow participants is critical to the eventual success of the participants, this class will not be available on video tape and video taping of these sessions is prohibited.


  • Morning, classroom sessions will be held at the Ridge Manor Community Center 34240 Cortez Blvd., Ridge Manor, FL 33523
  • Afternoon, hands-on sessions will be held at the Green Acre Organic Farm


Tampa International


preferred rates have been arranged, accommodations are not included

These workshops are sure to fill up quickly and will be kept to a limited number of participants. Reserve your space now!

More info at:


part of


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