Grand Valley Greens – Loma, CO
Grand Valley Greens is located in western Colorado near the Utah border, in the small town of Loma. The client had recently retired from a longtime job, and saw a need for fresh, healthy produce in the western-slope area. After attending our 4-day Flourish Farming course, she decided to dive head-first into aquaponic farming by converting an existing large garage on her property into a farm. The building was insulated, and HVAC was updated to handle the hot summers and cold winters that we experience in Colorado. Additionally, the HVAC systems we designed to handle excess humidity in the building produced by the aquaponic system.
The indoor aquaponic system was designed and built in two phases. During phase one, the client built her own DIY elevated deep water culture troughs out of wood, which our team lined with DuraSkrim liner and plumbed. We custom designed and installed a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) to raise tilapia and provide all of the nutrients required for plant production. The plant and fish systems were joined together, and have the ability to operate coupled or decoupled for added control over the growing environment. A large aerobic mineralization system was also added to further break down fish effluent, creating a zero-waste system. Nothing in this farm is flushed down the drain. Additionally, a Growasis 4-Tier nursery/microgreen system was installed to handle the germination needs for the farm and allow extra production of microgreens.
As we previously mentioned, this system was built indoors in a large garage building without access to any natural sunlight. In order to grow plants productively, a full-coverage LED grow lighting system was designed for the system. Full-spectrum ARC 600 LED grow lights provide all of the light the plants require for optimal growth rates. These powerful lights are mounted on LightRail robotic moving track systems, which slowly move the lights back and forth across the growing area. This spreads out the coverage area of the grow lights, allowing fewer light fixtures to be used initially, and saving the client money on electricity in the long term. The track system is configured so that one LightRail motor has the ability to move 3 lights simultaneously.
During phase II, a 4’x36′ Growasis Double Decker system was added onto the existing system to dramatically increase food production in the system. An LED grow lighting system was installed on both tiers of the Double Decker. The RAS (installed in phase I) was originally sized with this expansion in mind, and was easily able to handle the increased plant load from the Double Decker. The Double Decker system more than doubled the existing crop production of the farm but only occupies a fraction of the farm’s total floor space.
Now completed, this system has a capacity of over 1,800 heads of lettuce at one time. Each week 390 heads of lettuce are harvested, and can produce over 20,000 lettuce heads per year. Additionally, the RAS has a production capacity of 530 lbs of tilapia annually.