Mahanaim, Haiti Aquaponics Part 6

Productivity was in the air today in Mahanaim. The construction crew got started at 8am and worked until 7pm with only about 30 minutes to rest and eat. I feel so out of shape when I see how these guys work. They assembled all of the rebar frames for the walls of the growing beds and poured the concrete floors for the growing beds and the fish tank. Luiguy rented a concrete mixer and by the end of the day we mixed 53 bags of cement and all of the gravel and sand to make the concrete. The workers had a procedure for getting everything mixed correctly and rapidly. Several guys gathered buckets of sand and gravel, while another group poured bag after bag of cement into the mixer, followed by the sand and gravel, and then water. The concrete then was poured into the rebar frames and was flattened with precision, by hand.

Lots of cement!

Lots of cement!

I have noticed that there is no half-assing when it comes to work in Mahanaim. The concrete was carefully spread across the frames and into every possible crevice. Then it was smoothed out by a 2×4 piece of lumber until perfectly smooth. This garden will be the strongest aquaponics system ever for its size, that I have seen at least. 1000 years from now humans will be studying it saying “these primitive humans in 2014 grew fish and plants together, and they actually had to monitor it and plant things, silly animals”.

Concrete being poured

Concrete being poured

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All in all it was an exhausting day given the long hours and the blazing hot weather but we should be finished pouring the concrete tomorrow! Once this is finished we will start construction of the open air building that will shade the fish tank and the storage room for the solar system batteries and supplies. By the end of the week we should be testing the pumps and have the air blower and diffuser lines installed. After we can test that the water is flowing correctly we will take pictures, empty the tanks so the concrete can cure, and head back to the USA. We will then try to find a solution for sealing or treating the concrete to neutralize the alkalinity. This will either be a scrubbing of the surfaces with phosphoric acid, or an application of epoxy paint. At the same time we are figuring this out we will be finding a source for suitable gravel or course sand for the growing substrate and I will be training the lead agronomist via email. He will be responsible for operating the system after we are gone. Now I am set to drink a warm Haitian beer and get a great nights sleep after a hard days work. Y’all come back now…ya hear?!

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Volunteers still working after 11 hours to finish the fish tank floor.

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