Backyard Aquaponics Info

This event has now passed. I will update when they put on another event.

Closed-Loop Aquaponics With Applied Permaculture Design
Backyard, Family & Commercial Systems

Course Date – September 13 – 16, 2012
Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art & Politics
Santa Rosa, California

In Association With:

Nor Cal Aquaponics
Mendocino Ecological Learning Center
Facilitators & Instructors

backyard aquaponics

Max Meyers
& Special Guests
Course Overview

Wether you are a beginner, a backyard hobbyist, a homesteader or a skilled professional wanting to start a career in Aquaponics this course has something to offer. This course is will provide you with a solid foundation, in depth information, hands-on experience for designing and building cutting-edge Permaculture based Aquaponics Systems. Wether you want to grow food for you and your family, a small business or a fully commercial operation, this course will give you the foundational tools, information and experience you will need to support you in whatever Aquaponic endeavor you are interested in for years to come. At a time of global climate change, depletion of resources, pollution of water and huge losses of top soil worldwide, there has never been a more important time to learn about Aquaponics.
Course Description

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable and productive farming systems in the world. It combines Aquaculture and Hydroponics to create more self-sufficient, closed-loop, systems that use only a fraction of the water, labor, energy, etc. that other methods use. Combining Permaculture Design with Aquaponics creates an even more sustainable, dynamic, productive & regenerative system. In this training you will learn some of the most cutting-edge pioneering aquaponics systems and gain a solid foundation from which to create your own Aquaponics System, Farm & thriving Green Business appropriate to your climate, ecology, dreams, & desires.

Course Details

This Course includes:

  • •A detailed Aquaponics Course manual covering all aspects of Aquaponics including:
  • ‣Day-to-day operation of the system
  • ‣Design checklist
  • ‣Field tested formulas, calculations, estimates and guidelines.
  • ‣Complete designs, plans and materials lists.
  • ‣And much more in this nearly 100 page manual.
  • •NorCal Aquaponics Systems step-by-step construction manual with variations and site specific applications intended to make it easy for anyone to build an Aquaponics system.
  • •A set of detailed construction plans, including site plans, and piping schematics.
  • * This training will include all of the above as well as a design element focus on how to design a system specific to your individual climate, ecology, dreams, and desires – whether it is for a small personal system or a more large scale commercial system. Our intention is to empower you with cutting-edge information to get started in this promising new Green Career of the Future, and technology of the ancient past.

Permaculture & Aquaponics

By bringing Permaculture Design principles and practices into Aquaponics, we are closing many loops, inefficiencies, and energy drains that exist in more conventional systems, as well as integrating the system appropriately into the larger landscapes and ecologies it is a part of, making it a much more holistic and sustainable enterprise. Closed-Loop Aquaponics focuses on designing aquaponics systems that that produce as much of the system’s needs (water, energy, fish, feed, heat, gas, etc.) on-site and within the system itself as possible. Products of the systems can include; solar electricity, solar heated air, solar heated water, fish, prawns, vegetables, fruit, aquatic plants, algae, minnows, snails, worms, dry and liquid fertilizers, methane gas, and more. By using the Permaculture Design process, we learn to design systems appropriate to diverse climates and unique ecological niches to meet various needs, dreams, and desires.

Why Aquaponics?

Growing our food in closed systems that require no soil allows us to farm soil and water outside the system! We plant soil and water in our damaged and depleted landscapes which not only aids in the restoration of the soil, groundwater and native forests, but has the added benefit of offsetting greenhouse gases by removing carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. This is one of the practices used in what we call “Carbon Farming”. Soils contain approximately 75% of the carbon pool on land — three times more than the amount stored in living plants and animals. Did you know that 1” of healthy top soil spread over 1 acre of land sequesters the same amount of carbon a healthy forest of the same size does annually? It is estimated that our crop and range lands lose 4 tons of topsoil every year for every person alive! That’s 21 gigatons of soil washed or blown out to the sea and lost for productive use on land, releasing vast amounts of carbon in the process (New Scientist, December 2006). Being able to use land considered “Undesirable” by conventional farming, Aquaponic farmers have the added benefit of access to cheap lands and lease agreements. Often using otherwise unused space such as fill, gravel, concrete, abandoned commercial sites, even roof tops. “The only limit to our designs is in the mind of the designer”!

 Student Testimonials

“The highest praise I can give this course is the ability to take it home and immediately apply the principles. I received a thorough understanding of the subject and feel I could build my own system with the information given.” – Anne, Santa Cruz, May 2012

“I was looking for a course to help me start my system, and was a little worried this wouldn’t cover everything… but boy was I wrong! It covered everything I expected and so much more! I’m excited to go home feeling fully capable to build my system, and perhaps 3 or 4 others I had no idea about before!” – Mike, Santa Cruz, May 2012

“This course was so jam-packed with information my head felt like an over soaked sponge! I feel like the amount of info I received will continue to ooze out my ears and inform a lifetime’s work in this field. I highly recommend it for any and all persons interested.” – Susan, Ukiah, May 2011

“This course is a must for anyone wanting to engage in urban agriculture.” – Matthew, Santa Cruz, May 2011

“This course topped all my expectations and is the best aquaponics course I have taken. The information delivered was exceptional, beyond what I have seen, and more than I ever thought possible for aquaponics. Max and the Living Mandala support staff are very friendly, knowledgable people doing great work in the world. Thank you for this offering.” – Gary, Ukiah, Aug 2010

“Max is a brilliant designer, an extraordinary human being, and a natural teacher. His breadth of experience, passion, integration of regenerative design principles, creativity, depth of knowledge on the subject, and freedom of sharing information, are truly a gift.”  – Palika, Santa Cruz, May 2012

“This course is all about empowering each of us with the tools and techniques to take responsibility for our future by creating a sustainable food source and sharing this on so many levels.”

Susan. Santa Cruz, 2012


For questions and more information regarding the course

e-mail: or

call: (707) 634-1461

To Register for the Aquaponics Course Click Here.

Tuition & Registration

Includes Aquaponics Certification, Course Materials (including 100 page course manual with detailed designs), Hands-on Experience, and light breakfast and lunch. Lodging is not provided, but there are low cost local hotels, camping options, and other possibilities available.

Standard Tuition: $995 (for those making over 50k annually)

Supplemented Tuition: $795 – (for those making less than 50k annually)

Couple’s, Group, or Business Partern Discount:  $750 each -(For couples, families, businesses, or project partners – 2 or more people registered together.)

Permaculture Design Course Graduates, Aquaponics Course Grads, & College Students: $595

To support the permaculture movement and our commitment to further empower local sustainability efforts, we are offering a special discount to Permaculture Design Course Graduates, Aquaponics Course Graduates, and college students – only $595!

There will be a small registration fee in addition to the above prices.

To Register for the Aquaponics Course Click Here.


Lodging is not provided, and participants are responsible for their own lodging during the course. There are low cost local hotels, camping options, and other possibilities available – such as staying as a guest of a local participant. Please contact us if you would like some assistance finding lodging. We will send you more information on local lodging options in the registration packet.

Snail Mail

To complete your registration via mail (which is preferred), register on-line and send the full name of the course registrant(s) with a check or money order out to “Living Mandala” and mail to:

Living Mandala

Attn: Aquaponics Training

P.O. Box 704

Sebastopol, CA 95473

Refund Policy

Cancellations up to 2 weeks before the course before Aug 30 will be refunded, excluding a $75 processing fee. No refunds are given after Aug 30, but may be credited towards a future course with Living Mandala (minus the processing fee). Not all courses apply.

Aquaponics Facts


 Site Details (Sat & Sunday)- Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art, and Politics

Situated in Santa Rosa’s historic Railroad Square District, Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art, and Politics houses educational, cultural, ethical and green business activities united by a common purpose ~ the development of a theory and practice that will foster the creation of a better world, one in which human beings will come to see one another as the source of each other’s completion, as inherently good and caring social and ecological beings who seek to fully recognize each other’s common humanity and interconnectedness with all of life, and to create a world based upon justice, kindness, love, and respect for the Earth. The Center is located in the Foundation’s beautiful 8,000 square-foot, red brick building located at 99 Sixth Street, Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County, California.

Instructors & Facilitators

 Max Meyers

Max Meyers Aquaponics

Maximillian Meyers is an Ecological Designer, Permaculture Teacher, Commercial Aquaponic System Designer/Installer, Rainwater and Greywater System specialist, Farmer and the Executive Director of the Mendocino Ecological Learning Center – a nonprofit educational organization and ecological reserve offering green job training and sustainable living skills to the public free of charge. In addition to the work at MELC, Max provides Ecological design services to the public, organizations and schools through his businesses Osiris Designs and NorCal Aquaponics. He is passionate about all things related to a more just and sustainable world. He has been studying, practicing and teaching Permaculture and Ecological Design for 13 years. Since graduating from College with a B.A. degree in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Communities, Max has become a certified Permaculture designer/teacher, water systems specialist and working professional. He has been fortunate enough to study with people like Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, Sepp Holzer, Tom Ward, Jude Hobbs, John Valenzuela, Penny Livingston, and many others in places like the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Hawaii. Some of his fields of study and practice include: Natural Building, Organic Farming, Integrated Rainwater Harvesting, Alternative Transportation, Mushroom Cultivation, Sustainable Forestry, Beekeeping, Animal Husbandry, Renewable Energy, Biogas Production and use, Greywater Systems design and installation, Vermiculture, seed saving and many other sustainable technologies, methods and skills. He has experience teaching Permaculture, Natural Building, Cob Construction, Renewable Energy, Organic Farming, Beekeeping and others. His work has been featured in the best selling book Gaia’s Garden, radio and television programs. Max’s most recent project is a large scale Aquaculture Farm in Costa Rica that he is transforming into a large scale Commercial Aquaponics Farm, Research Institute, and Educational Center called Finca Neptuno.

Lead Instructor

Chris Byrne

chris byrne aquaponics

Chris Byrne holds an MBA in Sustainable Enterprise and Ecological Entrepreneurship–aka the GreenMBA–and has worked as staff and consultant in the private and non-profit sectors for socially and ecologically focused businesses and organizations.  As the Chief Network Node of Transition Ventures ( Chris uses his comprehensive green business and technological acumen consulting with start-up and established endeavors seeking to meet the challenges and realize the rewards of “going green.” For examples of past clients, see this webpage: . Chris is a certified Permaculture Instructor and Design Consultant.  He produced and co-taught a 6-weekend (84 Hour) Permaculture Workshop with Tom Ward in Southern Oregon, and regularly offers public talks and workshops on topics including: An Introduction to Green (“Regenerative”) Business; Introduction to Permaculture; Regional Economics; Complementary Currency and Local Money, and regularly delivers Green Business Development and “Invisible Structures” modules for various courses. See: Living Mandala Aquaponics 2010/11

Chris has a comprehensive working knowledge of small-farm management, agricultural issues, and regional economic development.  His continuing education and professional development focuses on regenerative technologies and tactics, regional food systems, site/systems design, local/regional economic development and resilience/transition planning and leadership. Supported by a technologically savvy approach, Chris is a MS Excel and Mac OS Power User, Windows proficient/tolerant, and has honed an ability to harness Powerpoint/Keynote and to weave a story.  His geek back-end toolkit uses WordPress (as a CMS) and (for Knowledgebase cultivation.)  He employs concept/mind maping through various apps and techniques (VUE; Mind-Node; pen/paper). Chris lives with loved ones in Sonoma County, California.  His homestead reflects his values and aspirations more and more every day.  For more information, see Chris’ CV: and find his Social Media profiles here:

Guest Instructor

Jay Ma

jay ma aquaponics

Jay Ma is a permaculture designer, natural builder, and community organizer committed to cultural healing through Peacemaker Principles. Jay is the director of programs at Living Mandala, and works with regenerative educators and institutions organizing educational courses, workshops, and events for personal, ecological and social regeneration in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He received his first permaculture design certification through Naropa University in 2001, a B.A. through New College of California in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community with a concentration in Eco-Dwelling & Natural Building. Jay is a  two-time graduate of the pioneering two-year training intensive in Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness. Jay has facilitated educational programs, retreats, workshops, and events as well as community land development projects for 10 years now with organizations including the Regenerative Design Institute, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Gaia University, Omega Institute, Harmony Festival, and many others. Jay is also a Fire Walk Instructor through Sundoor International, and is passionate about renewing Rites of Passage experiential programs for people of all ages.

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