Uncategorized

Smokin’ in the Boys Room

I found out that GPS in French actually stands for Global Croissant System (The “C” is not only silent, but invisible and replaced with a “P”). This is because, after days of driving around the farmlands of France and getting lost for most of the time, the only way to find out where I was and where to go was to stop at a local pâtisserie, purchase a croissant, and get directions in a language that I thought I was fluent in. I realized that not only was I not fluent, but I was more semi-solid or even gelatinous in French, especially after using the French GPS many times over.

IMG_8945

Feeding time

Monsieur Emanuel Coupin welcomed me to the Piscicultutre de Villette and gave me a step by step account of his facility. His background is in biochemistry and biology. He spent the early part of his career as an engineer in the field of wastewater treatment, specifically in the denitrification of water. (Incidentally, denitrification and the nitrogen cycle are paramount to creating a healthy aquponic ecosystem.) “Then I started a new life : fish farmer, fish-smoker. I was 29.”

Coupin and his wife keep their overhead costs low enough by employing just over half a dozen employees in order for the farm profitable yet not too overwhelming. In addition, he diversifies his operation in order to achieve multiple revenue streams.

Firstly, the water he uses comes from a freshwater stream and uses no chemicals. He considered this a better option than “organic”, as organic producers are allowed to use some chemicals.

IMG_8948

Staff collecting fish for a few revenue streams. Pun highly intended.

The trout grown in the farm are prepared and sold on the premises in a variety of ways. They are shipped to various retail stores, sold in Emmanuel’s shop and most interestingly, set into small ponds on the farm for leisurely locals to practice their fishing techniques. These customers pay for a number of fish to (hopefully) catch and to then take them home to their families to eat and show off their hunting prowess.

IMG_8958

Smokin time..

Rainbow trout are actually fish that are native to the Americas but are widely used in Europe because of their hardiness and large meat yield compared to some other fish.

IMG_8978

He and his staff painstakingly monitor an extremely classic brick smoking oven that is very susceptible to environmental change…

As I was observing Coupin and his team, it occurred to me that they could use timed modern ovens but choose to use this classic method that has worked for decades. Swings in outdoor temperature and humidity have a great effect on how long smoking takes place.

IMG_8983

It’s What’s Inside That Counts.

During this process, we constantly checked the fish for the outside to look well, more smokey, and for the inside to develop a yellowish hue.

At the end of my day on the farm, I thought about my classroom, “Where are we going to get a smoker?” (While I discourage kids from smoking; this is an important question.)

 

 

IMG_8965

Emmanuel has many talents, not least of which is customer service.

IMG_8992

Reeking of smoke and covered in croissant droppings by the end…succès finalement…

Advertisements
Standard
Aquaponics, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

Trout Your Feelings

(Une partie de ce article va être en français pour M. Petit se lire)

I had searched and searched the heart of France to find the Obi-Wan Kenobe of fish farmers. Even though I am strong with the Force, I had still gotten lost on the farm roads of France for hours on end…but I suppose that is what every Jedi Padawan must go through. When I had found Monsieur Petit, he had his R2 unit and C3P0 in tow (although they were much more cuddly and extremely dangerous). Let’s call them Power and Aaron.

IMG_8884

These are the trouts you’re looking for

IMG_8849

A Jedi uses the rainbow trout for knowledge and defense, never for attack…

M. Petit explained every step of his system and the life of a trout in such great detail that I found myself seeing the world through their eyes… their slimy mucousy eyes. In one of his many basins, we studied how they behave depending on their size with respect to others. The strongest ones swam toward where the water flowed in and had the most dissolved oxygen, getting stronger with every absorption. The more feeble ones, more guarded, stayed at the other end for fear of being eaten or bullied and hence, did not grow as quickly.

Through mental telepathy as well as using words to speak, he said that nothing is a better receiver of information than the eye. Oh, he does have elaborate computer systems that monitor the pH levels, dissolved oxygen and other parameters, but he doesn’t trust them as much.  “Il n’y a pas mieux que de voir de ses propres yeux comment un project fonctionne”

On peut comprendre la technologie et les conceptes en les lisant dans des livres ou magazines, mais on ne comprendrerait pas l’effet de l’environement et de la nature sur les résultats. (Thanks, Dad, for thé translation, I know, I know… “the”) 
IMG_8899

“You know, that little trout is going to cause me a lot of trouble.” “…Oh, he excels at that, sir.”

IMG_8888

“Keep your distance, but don’t, y’know, look like you’re keeping your distance.” (Grumbled questioning bark.) “…I don’t know. Fly casual.

IMG_8923.JPG

Laugh it up fuzzball…

IMG_9002.JPG

“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trouter?”

IMG_9001

The Force is strong with this one

 

Standard
Aquaponics, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

Robert Plant Only Eats Organic Trout Pâté

After harvesting the veggies and rainbow trout, we helped Antonio and Amanda from the Bioaqua Farm set up their stall at the Wildflowers, George Ezra and Robert Plant concert. After the first song, Robert was like “Hey Michael Paoli, you are a good and nice boy, give me another freshly battered rainbow trout sandwich, fried… with some of that D’yer Mak’er mayo garlic sauce.” He ate seven of the garlic pita bread sandwiches and we stuffed extra kale in there because most of it got caught in his goatee. Bobby didn’t bother finishing the concert because he knocked over all the other food stands and claimed “None of this stuff is made from an aquaponic system, so don’t waste your money on it England”. We managed to get him back on stage for an encore but he changed all the lyrics in The Song Remains the Same to “Deep water cultures are a brilliant way for robert plant roots to absorb nitrates in the final stage of the nitrogen cycle”. We also almost got beaten up by a fairly intoxicated man that claimed we drank his apple cider (entirely true).

image-6

Poppin’ a Tent

…deal with it.

…deal with it.

image-7

Antonio Filleting 200 Trout Like a Surgeon.

photo-10

The Crew

photo-9

That’s actually Robert eating another trout cheddar roll.

Foccaciaboutit

Focacciaboutit

IMG_7968.GIF

Standard
Uncategorized

Whole Lotta Lunch

Today, I had to rip the heads off of rainbow trout – something every Bar-Mitzvah boy must do. This was in preparation for tomorrow’s private event that we are catering featuring Robert Plant, the guy who used to dance in front of John Bonham. Everything on the BioAqua Farm is super organic and pesticide-free. It is as healthy as In A Gadda Da Vida. Antonio and Amanda have created this utopian farm that uses a minimal amount of waste as the water in the fish tanks supply the water and nutrients for the robert plants. The bob plants absorb the nitrates from the fish waste and the water flows back into the tanks. Fresh…exciting. Antonio is a wealth of information and offers courses to those staying in Somerset, UK for weeks. I am getting a three day crash course from morning to evening from this true expert in the field of aquaponics. He is also a great laugh and it’s been a long time since I did the stroll.

IMG_8741

Smokin’ in the Boys Room

IMG_8722

A Lesson to Kill…get your two fingers under the gills then snap its head off. (Most humane and still gruesome)

IMG_8720

Scooping Out Organic Victims

This Kale Pays Rent

This Kale Pays Rent

IMG_8729

There is Blood on Your Hands

IMG_8753

The Pitter Pâté of Little Feet

IMG_8716

Kollecting Cale

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Occupation up to 3%

After speaking with Hilary at The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, I realized just how poorly large farming corporations are suffering, having control of only 97% of farmland in England. Organic farms (with their daunting 3%) are bullying these heavy lobbying corporations with their pesticide free vegetation and acceptable living conditions for animals. Big agro, cowering in fear that their 97% might turn into 96.9999999999999999%, are scrambling to blur the lines between humanely treated animals, and animals with the worst possibly living conditions for any (even semi sentient) organisms. Specifically, The Organic Farm Shop is in the midst of creating an education system for local and non local children to get first hand knowledge of what it means to take care of animals, grow healthy vegetation and question where their food comes from. To fight back, large corporations are putting even prettier pictures of farms on their packaging and controlling much of the subsidies the government gives to GMO products, as they have some of the most highly paid lobbyists and lawyers that money can buy. Good luck corpers.

Home grown veggie, no pests please

Home grown veggie, no pests please

Interviewing the CEO

Interviewing the CEO

Corrupt Big Nature

Corrupt Big Nature

Standard
Uncategorized

I Was Accused of Being Completely Immature

Look, I helped these guys plant seedlings in their soiless vertical grow towers and they questioned my maturity. They even gave me a tour of their aquaponic/hydroponic farm in the middle of a parking lot at the Stratford Centre and were really really nice about it. So I was like, “Is my diaper showing? Is my bib still on?” These vertical grow towers used a system that trickled water from a 1500 liter fish tank through the coarse sponge that the basil and arugula were housed in. They described the other vegetation we planted, but I couldn’t hear them as I was kwying fo’ my mommie. I think there were some micro greens that were very popular and generated a decent revenue as they didn’t take up much space and were a pricey number. After I was done helping, I shook the hands of these lovely chaps and sucked my thumb the entire way home.
#fundforteachers #aquaponics

Micro Green$$$

Micro Green$$$

Great guys from Grow Up

Great guys from Grow Up

Retrofitted from an old shipping container, these guys just supplied comestibles for a number of rooftop parties.

Retrofitted from an old shipping container, these guys just supplied comestibles for a number of rooftop parties.

Four rows of vertical vegetation.

Four rows of vertical vegetation.

growupbox-aqua-ponic-farm-london-designboom00

The even painted it on the side of the container for me to see as soon as I walked in…

Stuffin...

Stuffin…

Standard
Uncategorized

A Techno Rave in Clay Balls

These leaves can’t stop partying with the blue and pink LEDs. They rage all night, for during the day, they get (yawn) boring sunlight. The visit to the Farm Shop in London yielded some wild and ferocious insights into lighting plants… on their heads!!!! Terrible for human vision, (and possibly dangerous) these rays of golden fortune are just the right spectrum that cause the mums and dads of these chives to worry incessantly. The pink LEDs hit that sweet spot of the light spectrum that promotes serious foliage with less water. Andy at the Farm Shop suggested adding a white LED every three slots to allow our retinas to burn less intensely.

Can these leaves party any harder?!?!?!?

Can these leaves party any harder?!?!?!?

Getting LEDs that you can direct away from eyes help "burn my face less"

Getting LEDs that you can direct away from eyes help “burn my face less”

Let Me In!

Let Me In!

Fish and their detritus fertilize the plants…gross.

Fish and their detritus fertilize the plants…gross.

Looks like Andy is going to slap me during the interview…he does.

Looks like Andy is going to slap me during the interview…he does.

Standard