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Old Jul 24, 2015, 08:10 PM
Schrott is offline
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Kraut
Dolores, Colorado
Joined Dec 2007
1,600 Posts
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Water, Fish and Green stuff

I guess I start sharing this little project of mine with you guys.

Dolores is a very small town, just 900 people or so.
But it has a gem, its the School.
The school goes from Pre to High.
The amazing thing that school ranks in the top 10 to 15 % of all Colorado Schools.
The Pre is ranked under the top 32 in the US, Yes the US, not percent, but actual number.
Last year the school opened a new science building and several new school rooms, brand new and just amazing. Voted and payed for by property tax increase, over 3 million and aditional 3 million came through a grand.
That school is the pride of the community.
I had 3 of my nices and nephew go to that school and graduate, one is a dentist, one is a teacher and one a software guy.
The last couple of years, because of the drought, I got interested in sustainable methods to grow food. It kinde took away some boat building time, but was rather educational.
So I started to play around with Aquaponics. Basicly what that is, it is a closed very much self sustainable system to produce food.
Simple explanation, fish craps into water and than that water gets pumped through your garden and returns to the the fish.
The fish crap is the vertilizer and your garden is the filter for the fish tank.
The only water loss comes from evaporation.
If one uses fish that one can eat, than one has 2 harvest, the fish and what ever grows in the garden.
Since we have in Montezuma County a project, garden project for all 3 school districts, Cortez, Mancos and Dolores, I went to the Dolores School and approached them about a Aquaponic System, or a indoor garden for the school.
It took a while till they understood what I had in mind, but once they got it, they jumped on board big time. It is agriculture in a different way, science, animal care, physiks, chemistry and naturally crafts man ship.
The next hurdle was the red tape, health department and all their demands and than finding a proper location inside the school.
That took about 6 month, but finally at the end of May we had it all ironed out and they let me loose.
While we ran around the red tape, I went to the school wood shop and asked if they could built some of the wooden cradels for our fields. The teacher gave it a go and so I got them a load of timber and the kids started building.
The 7 graders had it for their science project and made some rather nice presentation at the end of the school year.

Once the school year was out I got to work. Tuesday is may official Sunday and I spent it the whole summer in the school and than what ever time I could scrap to get materials and built stuff at home.
The system is now 90% finished and we started it this week, its called cycling. During that process, Amonia is added to the water ( lots of beer drinking ) and than a process takes place, bacteria starts to built and eventually transforms the ammonia into nitrate. Nitrate is the stuff that feeds the plants. Ammonia, is poison, kills the fish and the plants.
Pictures
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Old Jul 24, 2015, 08:56 PM
Kmot is offline
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Grumpa Tom
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United States, CA, Los Angeles
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You are an amazing fellow Herr Schrott.

What a lucky school Dolores is to have you interested in their students.

Give the crew an extra bone.
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Old Jul 24, 2015, 09:06 PM
AndyKunz is offline
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Illinois
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Originally Posted by Schrott View Post
But it has a gem, its the School.
The school goes from Pre to High.
The amazing thing that school ranks in the top 10 to 15 % of all Colorado Schools.
Um, that's exactly what one SHOULD expect from a small school. Large schools are the bane of society.

Andy
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Old Jul 24, 2015, 11:19 PM
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Taking care of the pond.
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United States, CA, Sanger
Joined Apr 2004
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Very interesting.
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Old Jul 24, 2015, 11:47 PM
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Kraut
Dolores, Colorado
Joined Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kmot View Post
You are an amazing fellow Herr Schrott.

What a lucky school Dolores is to have you interested in their students.

Give the crew an extra bone.
Thanks Kmot the crew got its extra bone, waking their tales.
Well they had interest in my kids, who spend one year with me, learned how to drive, speak an uncivilized language, like their uncle and got their diplomas, unlike their uncle and went off to adult live and did great.
If we look at it, the best investment in our future are those kids.
I had the pleasure to get to know the maintenance crew and janitorial crew of the school this summer. They are amazing, they completely overhauled the school, when everybody comes back, August 18, they have a spanking clean and painted and repaired school, the place will be as brand new. It was the attitude, everybody was in a good mood, every body smilled, had pride in what they were doing. The one day I was doing the plumbing, the gym is next door they had a meddly of 70 and 80 rock going full blast, while they striped the floors and rewaxed them and they were actually rocking while they did that, rocking with the brooms and each other, they are 50 and so on,youngest is 30, child.
They came by every time I was there and asking question, why this why that, how does it work and so on and helped when I needed a third hand.
Great time
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Old Jul 25, 2015, 04:52 PM
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Damp and Dizzy member
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Bozeman, Montana, United States
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Well Done Herr Schrott! The community is very lucky to have you.

I agree with AndyKunz - small schools are the best. We have a great one near me, Gallatin Gateway School. Small town, not much money, but they consistently outperform the rest of the schools in the valley (and in MT in general).
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Old Yesterday, 06:44 PM
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Kraut
Dolores, Colorado
Joined Dec 2007
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I guess I should explain a few things a little better.
The trick is, that the ammonia from the fish or any other source, eventually produces a bacteria, that will break down the ammonia into nitrates.
Its the nitrates that make the plants grow, pure ammonia is poison, will kill the fish and the plants. There are testing kits for that.
I took a bucket of water from one of my systems, that have already the bacteria and a bucket of what I call tee, made from happy horses manure ( ammonia source ) and jump started the system.
I tested today and the natrate level is coming up very nicely, while the ammonia is vanishing. Which means the system starts to built its bacteria. Added plenty of tee to it and will check it tomorrow again.
The seed that were put in last Thursday are already sprouting, they just go kabum, 3 times as fast as in dirt.
That is were the students can apply the stuff they learn from books and that is one of the purposes of building this system. Hands on science.
I still have to make the system Kiddo proof from the outside and so I built today a little fence. Since this is not any backyard I have to make every thing look nice, it has to be as nice as the school is.
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Old Yesterday, 07:37 PM
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Illinois
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25+ years ago my brother was the chemist in charge of waste treatment for a textile plant in NJ. I did the software for the control system. We did basically the same thing there that you're doing here - start the bugs out and feed them well (we used dog food as the starter). As they grew, we slowly changed the diet from dog good and urine to textile effluent, which they eventually ate exclusively.

One of the problems in NJ is that the water coming into a plant can be naturally dirtier than what's allowed to be discharged, so here's a system which makes a positive contribution to the environment.

The system is still operating - that's what I find really cool.

I guess hydroponics is a good thing in Colorado with pot being legal.

Andy
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