Welcome to Howling Moose Gardens, Twin Cities, Minnesota.
Last updated: 5/09/2012
We (will) provide fresh fruit, vegetables and fish to the local sustainable food market.
The Moose is back!
I am very sad to report that my business partner and I have decided to dissolve the Swanberg and Khan Aquaponics partnership. Therefore, I will be taking back sole control of this aquaponics business, and I will return it to its original name, Howling Moose Gardens.
This split was amicable, and I wish my old partner the best of luck, and I hope he continues in the AP business.
It will take a while for me to migrate the webpage and blog back to the Howling Moose Gardens namespace.
Thank you very much for your patience with this!
-Karen Swanberg (May 4th, 2012)
We are currently looking for funding. We are currently renting greenhouse space in Hugo, MN, from J. R. Johnson Supply.
Once the business model is proven, a custom four-season zone 4 aquaponics greenhouse will be built.
What is aquaponics?
One of the issues with traditional hydroponics is that the nutrients used are expensive and often man-made petroleum by-products. The nutrients can built up to toxic levels in the system, and hydroponic systems need to be sterilized on a regular basis.
One of the issues with traditional aquaculture (raising fish in captivity for food) is that the water from the system gets released into the environment. This nutrient-rich water causes algae blooms in the surrounding water systems, which kills local aquatic life.
But if you combine the two systems in a closed, recirculating system, the plants clean the water for the fish, and the fish fertilize the plants.
A highly efficient, elegant solution.
In addition, aquaponics uses significantly less water than traditional dirt gardening. Even here in Minnesota, water is a precious resource.
A convergence of old and new technologies is making northern state Aquaponics a feasible year-round endeavor.
Greenhouses can be built to be ultra-efficient, and thus reduce the major winter greenhouse expense: heating.
The Garden Goddess Greenhouse and CSA in Milan, Minnesota (1. 2.) , runs a winter CSA out of a greenhouse attached to a home garage. Yearly heat expenses? Around $50 for propane, for long grey stretches of days.
This is achieved through a mix of old and new greenhouse technologies. The GH is almost entirely passive solar:
- correct orientation of the structure and south-facing wall
- thermal mass (water tanks and gravel base)
- white interior
- double-walled insulation.
It does, however, have some active solar elements, specifically a Subterranean Heating and Cooling System (SHCS) ( 3. 4. 5. )
Which leads to the second piece of technology that will make this project possible and profitable: Geothermal heating (6.)
From the DOE:
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature. This allows the system to reach fairly high efficiencies (300%-600%) on the coldest of winter nights, compared to 175%-250% for air-source heat pumps on cool days.
Geothermal heat pumps, coupled with solar water heaters, would be used to heat both the air and the water of the Howling Moose greenhouse, saving significantly on heating costs.
Electricity use has always been aquaponics' Achilles' heel: water pumps, air pumps, monitors and probes, and grow lights. Proven technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, and perhaps biogas can combine to provide most of the electricity needed for Howling Moose.
Even with the Electricity used in aquaponics, the total resources used are much less than even organically grown farm produce, due to the lack of tractors and other large equipment. Any other remaining imbalance energy will be made up by the lack of food miles (7.) for Howling Moose products.
All of these technologies are proven, but no one has combined them into one system, levering the interconnecting processes. Howling Moose will do that, and in the process supply the Twin Cities with local, sustainably grown fresh produce and fish even in the depths of winter.