Garinger Aquaponics

Updates on the 100 Gardens site at Garinger High School in Charlotte, NC

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Moving Right Along

Hey folks,

Things are moving right along here at Garinger. On Friday we made a big push, and with some extra hands pitching in we got the system up and running! We’re in the final stages of the project now. I was down there today and all four tanks are full, though we still only have Tilapia in the far left. So that’ll be something to take care of soon. We’re also going to have to get some plants started in the rafts, which are now at full volume, each hole drilled in the polystyrene floats. A few other things will need to be resolved, but for the most part we’re pumping.

I could always tell you what we did, and every little detail, but I think that it would be easier to show you pictures. If you’d like to visit us, send an email to (I check every once and a while).

The hydroponic rafts with our vegetable trays in them!

Sometimes you just have to climb in – the plug on the water pump couldn’t be reached otherwise, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to a little bit.

Connecting students to the work going on at the farm is one of our biggest objectives. Our Garden Coordinator Bobbie Mabe does a great job with this – I saw her today teaching an American History class.
Sam explaining to me the intricacies of our air pump.

The aeration system up and running!

And the water pumping through the tanks!

It’s a great thing to hear your first Aquaponics system turn on for the first time.

Talk soon,


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Back at it!

Hey folks!

We are back to it now! The past few weeks have been mostly devoted to the Southern Spring Show, working on the setup for the Ultimate Schoolyard Garden, which was recognized with two awards by The American Horticultural Society. Though I wasn’t able to experience the conference firsthand, I am very happy about this news. A lot of hard work went into making the display possible, and acknowledgement of that dedication was well deserved. It’s encouraging to know that progressive efforts, such as those displayed by the Schoolyard Garden, are well received by the urban agriculture movement. We have a huge opportunity for growth while public interest remains high in local agriculture efforts, and a need to adapt our approach to agriculture for the sake of resiliency that was not as pressing during prior years of public support. It is inspiring to see that growth happen every day

So I’ll fill you in on what we’re building at Garinger, and what we accomplished today. As you can see the greenhouse is a lot greener, thanks to the warm weather and sunshine we’ve had lately. There’s a good bit of algae in the rafts, but once we get the water pumping (which it will be Friday!) all that will be filtered out. The filter system will have to be cleaned out a good bit at first, due to the algae in the rafts and the biofilm in the totes, but we’ll want to keep a close eye on everything at first anyhow.


Next bit of news for you is that there are fish in the far left tank. Some of them are veterans from the Schoolyard Garden display, but we lost a few in transit. They seem to like their new home pretty well, and they’re already getting to work cleaning the water of biofilm and adding nutrients for the plants.
As you may notice, there’s a pipe protruding into the fish tank at the bottom there. That’s because all the totes have been hooked up to the same plumbing system! Again it isn’t pumping yet, we’ve still got some dirt to move and holes to drill with our wonky drill bit that makes for some very clean 1.5′ holes. Or 1′, heck I’m pretty sure you can even drill a 1/4′ hole with that set. Go crazy, see what happens.
So there’s that crazy drill bit. Sam is drilling into our sump tank there, which will run from the raft (the little blue corner is in the bottom left of the picture). The whole thing will be driven by pumps, and gravity. It’ll be a process of trial and error, but we’ll get it sorted.Image
Today we worked until we ran out of materials. Sam is putting the finishing touches on the aeration for our totes here. The cement glue holding those pipes together gives off some serious fumes. Sam tipped the jar a bit at one point to dab some from the bottom, and I could see the vapor pour out, the same way you might see steam rise off a compost pile. Or heatwaves on the asphalt in summer.

I plucked some greens, covered in aphids and worm castings. I’m looking forward to a dinner of greens and onions tonight.

Until next time everyone!