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Second Aquaponic Learning Weekend Scheduled Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 15, 16

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The second in a monthly lineup of Back-to-Back Learning Weekends offered by Green Phoenix Farms at their workshop and educational center in Garland has been announced for Feb. 15 and 16. Four separate classes, including the popular "AP 101: An Introduction to Aquaponics," will be held beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the facility located at 2636 National Circle, Garland. The classes are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, two on each day.

The introductory course includes four hours of classroom instruction on the basics of this growing system which combines the best of aquaculture and hydroponics in a closed-loop, all-natural growing system. It can be mastered by hobby gardeners as well as by commercial producers. The fish and plants exist in a soil-less symbiotic system, each one nourishing the other. Aquaponic cultivation requires far less space and minimal water to produce abundant growth, and is suitable for either indoor or outside applications. The class session lasts four hours.

Adam Cohen, owner of Green Phoenix Farms, teaches the courses. He holds degrees in marine biology and marine fisheries from Texas A&M University, and serves as 2014 vice president of the national Aquaponics Association, headquartered in Denver. His company, in addition to being an educational and system-design firm, offers consulting services and is developing comprehensive curriculum guides for the teaching of Aquaponics. The company also offers tours and site visits in the DFW Metroplex. For more information, email here.

Monday afternoon, a two-hour class will focus on the basics of growing plants efficiently and productively in Aquaponic systems. Interested gardeners will be introduced to sources for obtaining high-quality heirloom seeds, sprouting, propagation and cloning. Each participant will receive a sample of heirloom seeds which can be planted in traditional gardens as well as in Aquaponic systems.

On Sunday, the topic for a two-hour morning class will be Filtration Methods, explaining the operation and construction of two mechanical filtration device designs. and a three-hour afternoon class will discuss Siphons and More. Various designs will be highlighted, and participants will have an opportunity to observe each type of siphon in operating systems. Finally, a hands-on workshop allows students to practice assembling the siphons.

Although not new science, Aquaponics is only beginning to find widespread favor in the United States with backyard hobby farmers as well as for commercial urban applications. Because it is an environmentally-friendly growing system which is totally natural and sustainable, it has found favor with supporters of urban farming and the locavore movement. Production of salad greens, and such crops as peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are popular with local gardeners.

Green Phoenix Farms has also partnered with a Fort Worth non-profit ministry to the homeless, and recently completed an installation in the East Lancaster neighborhood south of the downtown area. It is expected to provide produce this spring as part of the ministry's Project Growth, which hopes to install a thriving, sustainable urban farm to serve as a source of pride and employment for this formerly blighted area of the city.

Registration is available for each session individually; however, a discount is offered for enrollment in the full weekend of four classes. Another weekend learning experience is scheduled for March 15 and 16.

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