My wife, Sarah, and I have embarked on a new journey in our lives; we run an organic cut flower farm. We call ourselves "Grateful Gardeners", and it's not just a catchy name, we truly are grateful to work with plants, be in nature, and generally support the earth.
We've been flower farming for almost 3 years now and while it's some of the hardest work we've ever done, it's also incredibly rewarding and meditative. Our number one principle is to grow as green as possible.
With that in mind, we are attempting to break new ground, in sustainable practices, in scientific fields, and innovative growing methods. It all centers around Aquaponics.
Aquaponics is the greenest way to grow any plant. I won't go into crazy detail here (Wikipedia has a great article on this subject), but suffice to say it has a multitude of advantages to traditional soil-based agriculture; 90% less water used, 2 times the growth, no weeding, fewer pests, waist height growth to save the farmers back, no soil erosion, you can grow year-round in a greenhouse. It goes on and on. The research available shows vegetables thrive in aquaponics and many startup farms are moving in that direction for its environmental benefits. But very little has been done in flowers, beyond anecdotal evidence and a few one-off studies.
And this brings us to why I'm asking for money through GoFundMe. We are trying to build an aquaponics system on our farm to begin moving many of our flower crops to this growing method. The one barrier to starting aquaponics for any agricultural intention is the cost. A state of the art system can cost as much as $100,000!! I've been able to bootstrap and DIY my way to a small system that has shown some promising results (Here is an article I wrote for the Slow Flowers Journal recently).
What I am asking for is just a "seed" fund to begin the process of planning this new part of our farm. I'm working with a Colorado-based company, The Aquaponic Source, to consult with, plan, and eventually build our system. The proposal, which I'm happy to share with anyone who wants to see it, requires about $4000. Any additional funds I can raise will go towards more training for myself and towards the actual construction of the new system. But I don't want to get ahead of myself, just to get this early boost from my friends, family, and colleagues would be nothing short of an honor and an inspiration.
The eventual result we are aiming for is to grow more than 20% of flowers year-round in the aquaponics system by the end of 2021. We will be conducting on site research with the system, demonstrating all the flower varieties that can be grown this way, the advantages to growing them this way, and any new benefits not yet described in the scientific literature. All results and data will be published in the journal of Horticulture Research or Horticulture Journal. We would be eternally "grateful" gardeners to have your help in making this dream a reality!
For a $25 donation or more we will be providing people with a branded T-shirt with our logo and a coffee mug.
For a $50 donation or more we will be providing people with the T-shirt and mug, but also one large bouquet of flowers grown on our farm.
For a $100 donation or more we will be providing people with the T-shirt, mug, and 3 large bouquets from our farm.
- Ramona De Jong
- Nicole Dogwill
- Doug Bolen
- Ben Parry
- Thomas Sumser
Organizer and beneficiary
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