Our Aquaponic Journey Part One: Building the Greenhouse

Ana White Barn Greenhouse


Have you ever heard of aquaponics? It’s the practice of growing food using fish in a water-based system. I heard about it last year, and have been learning all I can about it ever since. This past year was fine with my conventional garden, but I wanted more. I wanted year-round vegetables, in abundant quantities. I wanted a simple system that was self-sustainable. I wanted aquaponics! After a lot of research, I decided to take the plunge and build a greenhouse specifically for my system. I chose the brightest spot, which happened to be just to the right of our house, in the gravel area we designated as a driveway overflow. My husband was generous enough to give up this spot for the good of the larder. We had just enough money left in our house building fund to cover the costs of the greenhouse, which was just under $800.

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It took four days to build Ana White’s Barn Style Greenhouse. We purchased all our supplies at Lowes. The first day was spent digging a foundation in for the cement blocks. We decided to add them into the plan since we get such serious winds around here. They have since been buried, so I’m hoping it will be enough to keep the greenhouse in place. I also decided to make the lower “wall” on the left side, the one covered in greenhouse panels, have the ability to open for ventilation in the summertime. You can see the darker brown frame that I used to attach the greenhouse panels to. I just made sure the uppermost panel threaded beneath the one above it so water wouldn’t get in. I’m planning to add some spray foam to each edge to keep the winter chill out, as well as some pool noodles along the base where it meets the metal wall as there is a 1″ gap due to the frame construction. But overall, it’s nice and warm inside.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 2.06.21 PMThere are thousands of ways to set up your aquaponic system. YouTube is overrun with tutorials, system tours, and the like. It became overwhelming. I knew I wanted to build my own system rather than spend thousands on a pre-built one. So I decided to invest the $40 to get the Endless Food Systems DIY tutorial, which will fit perfectly inside my 10 x 12 greenhouse with a few small tweaks. From what I’ve read, to feed a family of four you would need 100 square feet of grow bed space. My system will have 78 square feet, so it will be close. Couple that with my outdoor conventional garden, and my dreams of food self-sustainability may come to fruition sooner than I hoped! This 300 gallon tank should hold about 30 pounds of fish, we’re planning on starting out with catfish since they’re so hardy in our area. The limestone rock we live on means we can’t bury our tank, so the fish will need to tolerate some temperature fluctuation.


That’s it for my first installment of our aquaponic journey! I’m hoping to get our system finished and running before February 1st, so I can get some early spring plants started. I’ll be sure to update each step of the way!


4 thoughts on “Our Aquaponic Journey Part One: Building the Greenhouse

  1. Wow, this is fascinating. I can’t wait to hear more :).
    I have a co-worker who is super into gardening. I haven’t talked to him about it too much, but he does aquaponics as well and is just crazy about it.

    You’ve been busy lately, lady :D.

    1. Thank you Maddie! How cool that your coworker is into the systems too. It’s such an interesting world. Like all gardeners, some folks are all too ready to talk your ear off and offer advice, while others guard their secrets like jewels. It’s been an experience, for sure!

  2. This sounds like such an exciting and great project you are working on! Being conscious of sustainability is so important, and when speaking about food it’s not only important for the environment but it’s also important to know what you are putting in your own body!

    Good luck, can’t wait to see how it continues to develop!

  3. Brooke, thanks for keeping us up-to-date. This is a very doable project for the “average” family (i.e.-not a lot of money invested), and if you are at all concerned with the way our food supply is headed, this is a great option. Thanks for sharing.

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