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In the Philippines, it’s

 

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Darrell and Sandy Blatchley - Family Circus Children’s Ministries
Philippine Address: PO Box 80542, 8000 Davao City, Philippines
Phone (63)(82)305-1529 - familycircus@agmd.org

 Website updated: 10/10/11

Progress Reports and Information:

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Resources and Links:

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Feeding the King’s Kids

 

What is in your/our heart can really have a great impact in the lives of many both at home and worldwide. Having a generous heart does not Christian Joy Feb 2002 102_2295have a negative impact on us but helps us to have a more enjoyable life (and more friends). When disaster happens, if people have access to food, then life and hope for a better future can be sustained. We’ve seen families suffering from malnutrition due to economic distress, for example sickness of the wage earners, and their children coming to us having not eaten for three days. Then, when we share from what we have, their lives take a turn for the better.

 

We are doing this task on as large a scale as we are able, due to the thousands of kids and poor families from squatter areas. At the same time, we are working towards using our site as a hands-on teaching classroom for both small and large scale Aquaponics.

 

Not familiar with the term? 

 

From Wikipedia: “Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines a traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In the aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients, after which the cleansed water is recirculated back to the animals.”

 

Aquaponics is a valuable farming technique for a number of reasons. Going soilless seems to have higher output and less pests to contend with than conventional farming. And, although It isn’t so favorable for top heavy growth such as corn, larger tomato plants etc. which require being tied in place and/or wind-free conditions, it is ideal for low growing plants.

 

I’ve been learning and practicing Aquaponics for the past 5 years, and am currently completing a 20,000 gallon multiple-compartment cement fish pond, with a hydroponics style garden to go in above it. It is a unique design from ideas gleaned from many sources.

 

Last year we were able to give away about 252,000 free meals at Family Circus, especially to the malnourished. We are looking forward to the increase of our vegetables after this next project is completed and the new garden is growing.

 

The Ponds:

 

Fish Pond IMG_0021We built our first 4’ X 8’ bunk bed style Aquaponics system starting about 4 years ago when we were first introduced to Aquaponics. As long as you don’t live in Alaska, burying your fish ponds in the ground helps to keep a stable water temperature. Our new ponds are 5’ deep and our rock filters are an additional 1’ deep.

 

Currently, we are growing about 2,000 catfish and plan to add giant tilapia to our new ponds. As long as we have adequate filtration and our balance is healthy, we should have the capacity for 20,000 fish, but the vegetables are my main priority.

 

Some major factors to maintain a healthy Aquaponics system:

  • The larger the ponds the more stable the water (chemical & temperature) balance.
  • Fish produce ammonia and waste (Nitrites).
  • Aeration is very important (both to plants and fish). (Repeat this line several times). You need air pumps. This is primarily to add “air” not “oxygen.” This is a common verbal mistake made by those involved in Aquaponics. The air both we and the fish breath is comprised of several elements of which oxygen is only 21%, nitrogen 78%, plus other trace elements.
  • The filtration process is important. A 12” deep  ” rock based filter works like a rocky stream bed to clean fish waste from the water. Part of this process includes the development of healthy bacteria, and worms which take the fish waste nitrites and turn them into water soluble nitrogen, which becomes your plant food. The goal is to create a closed healthy living ecosystem just like God created on our planet.

Feeding the Fish:

 

Currently, we feed the fish commercial fish flakes when they are very small then, as they grow, we feed them tiny floating pellets. Later they grow into eating larger pellets. The food costs about 30 cents a pound, and some fish are vegetarians.

 

For the Tilapia, we can end up growing our own feed, such as duckweed  http://www.fishfarming.com/duckweed.html .This is something we recently started, as we recently found a site to harvest a small bag of Duckweed just about 5 blocks away. This will provide a great benefit and cost cutting. Free fish food!

Fish Talapia

An average fish will put on of a pound for every pound it eats. Very efficient for both personal consumption and income generation.

 

Eventually, we will complete a 35’ square fish pond area with over 20,000 gallon capacity space to raise 1 fish per gallon. That means on an 8 month harvest cycle we can produce mature 2 lb. fish for sale on our market at $2 each. Subtract the 60 cents for food, assuming you have paid off your pond etc., then your costs include minimal electricity and water (if you have a well, another minimal cost).

 

If you are making a 2,000 organic fish for sale each month your profit would be approximately $1.25 X 2,000 = $2,500. So for us, we have both the minor fund raising factor and, more importantly, the production of food to feed the hungry.

 

You can grow 7 lbs. of organic healthy vegetables for every pound of fish raised. Figure a mature fish at 2 lbs, our capacity will soon be 20,000 fish we can use for feeding the hungry. So we can produce a non-stop income and food generator. What a blessing!

 

The Gardens:

 

Our growing season is 12 months out of the year. We live about 8 degrees off the equator in a hot humid moderate storm climate.

 

It is amazing how much can be produced from such a little amount of space. In our 35’ sq. soil-less garden space I anticipate about 1,500 plants in our vertical garden with need and nutrients to expand into a much greater area, think roof tops. Soilless gardens are very versatile. We just need to keep the birds and bugs away (we use netting for that, plus grease in the right places to slow down ants).

 

We currently have both raised gardens (in soil), which are blessed by the fish ponds, and our Aquaponics rock-based gardens.

 

Please take a minute and peruse the photo gallery at the right to see our progression with this project.  Older photos start at the bottom.

 

 

 

A Bit of Our History with Aquaponics . . .

 

These are excerpts from previously published updates.

 

From our Update June 20, 2008

- “Fish & Gardens”

     Our goal this year is to reach out and help 1% of the children in Davao. That's 7,500 kids coming to Family Circus every week, along with an estimated 2,500 of their family members. It is our dream that every child coming to learn about Jesus could receive: Hot bread rolls, juice, first aid, dental care, and for the malnourished; meals, rice and vitamins. We are nearing our goal. Since transferring our services to the large circus tent our weekly attendance has grown to about 5,000. This growth includes a very special group of 250 newborns added annually to Family Circus, through our pregnancy counseling and vitamin assistance program . . .


     We understand the tragedy of rising prices for the poor. Rice has more than doubled in price, and that is bad news. We distribute a lot of rice to our malnourished kids, and the widows, about a kilo (2 lbs) a week for each child plus vitamins (as funds allow). We recently bought 800 lbs for about $250 in funds donated by a Buddhist friend (“Good works knows no boundaries”). Note: Starvation cuts lives short. One of our young mothers (malnourished) age 24 (with two kids) just died . . .


     Oh yes, another neat thing: we hope to be able to soon start putting in 4’ X 8’ fiberglass fish ponds and gardens. The fish produce waste in the form of nitrogen which feeds the plants (tomatoes, okra, cucumbers etc. twice as fast if planted in the ground, and the garden at the same time filters and aerates the water for the fish tank. This is called aquaponics.


     We dream to have at least ten of the garden/fish pond combinations, and due to the tropical climate, they will produce vegetables non-stop and the fish the same way… I love what the Lord is putting together. Each garden/fish pond will cost about $1,000, including the sump pumps, battery backup power supply, etc., all inclusive. (*If interested in helping us obtain one of these please drop us a note.)


     We believe the Lord will provide tools for us to help children in need. In turn the fish pond/gardens will generate with very little expense, food for the hungry . . .


     PS Here’s a link to Wikipedia's article on aquaponics. Just visit:  
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics

 


From our Update October 19, 2008

- “Who’s Got It Bad?”
 

. . .The Fish and cucumbers in the two aquaponics fish pond/garden continue to grow rapidly. Also there has been wonderful progress on the cafeteria, Helping hands this month include a team from Hawaii, and a couple from Australia. Soon we anticipate being able to provide more than 2,000 free meals each week for the malnourished children attending services. Our heart rejoices to be part of the Master’s plan to feed these hungry kids. Thanks to so many for joining us in making this dream become a reality…


     We are surrounded by children “who have it bad.” Very bad.” Yes we had Pneumonia, fever and pink eye. That’s not much compared to… ”kids that have it bad.”
 

 


From our Update April 1, 2009

- “My Brother In Uganda”

     The following is (from) a letter I sent this week to a young man, a brother in the Lord, who I have not met, and yet I’m mentoring…


     Moses, learn to be happy in all circumstances and you will draw many people to the Lord, and you will find yourself with many friends. Find things you enjoy. For myself, lately I have been gardening. I don’t have a lot of time, but I plant seeds, care for them, and then the seeds produce food which I then eat myself, and I give even more to others that are hungry. It is a quiet work, and when I’m tending to the garden I can talk to God and relax.


     Right now we have 294 fish in our little garden. The fish help to feed the garden, and the garden keeps the water clean for the fish. We’ve been working to make our little garden bigger. I hope that in April 2009 we can grow about 1,000 catfish (starting with very small fingerlings). This will make our small garden about 3 times bigger. I know from the Bible that God likes to see us feed the hungry. In fact, when Jesus comes back, it says that to those He finds feeding the hungry in His name, he will say, “Well done; you have been good and faithful.”


     Remember, in the beginning God created a garden and put people there as the gardeners. For me it is fun and meets a need in my heart. Moses, find something that feels good deep inside yourself, then teach others --including children --what you have also discovered. In this way you are doing your part to stop poverty and hunger in your part of the world.


     Start small, be responsible, teach and feed the children, and God will see what you are doing and He will smile on your work and will bless you.

 

     Note: You don’t have to go to school to learn to be a good gardener, but you must learn and practice what you learn. Even children can be a part of this learning.

 


From our Update April 24, 2009

- “Something’s Fishy”


     . . . A handful of fish does smell fishy, but it also smells like dinner… Our fish ponds and gardens are a wonderful blessing to feed the hungry.


     Hopefully this week we will be able to purchase an additional 1,200+ baby catfish for the fish pond. It will take about 7 months for them to grow up big enough for the dinner plate. Our current crop of Tilapia (fish) is rated very delicious by a young malnourished boy and his family. He enjoyed it enough to ask his papa, “Please ask Uncle Darrell for some more.” ;-)


     At the same time we are increasing the number of fish, there will be at least six new garden plots (4’ X 8’) to grow more vegetables; beans, egg plants, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peanuts, bananas, watermelon, corn, etc. Thanks to the fish, the plants grow about twice as fast as normal since we recycle and clean the fish pond removing the valuable nitrogen, via the garden’s rock beds.


     It all works together the way God originally created His garden. We use all natural fertilizers. And we are careful to keep the garden clean of potentially dangerous chemicals. It is a learning process, and our vision is a lot of food!


     We believe the Lord will help us to produce ‘more than enough.’ That’s the definition of “abundance”… Something the poor don’t have much of. It won’t happen overnight but we’ll keep working on it.

 


From our Update December 17, 2010

- “Enough to Make a Grown Man Cry”
 

     . . . God bless you, friends, for helping us to help the least of these. We may cry, but we also laugh and rejoice with the multitude coming to know about our King! This year, week by week, we have been able to distribute more than a quarter of a million meals to the widows and malnourished children. (252,048 meals) And that doesn’t include the produce from the gardens and fish ponds. Thanks to many who have helped, including Convoy of Hope, Feed My Starving Children, BGMC and so many others.
 


From our Update April 12, 2011

- “Bucket List”


     . . . For a couple of weeks we had a team from Convoy of Hope helping us to expand our garden and fish pond area. Our son DD went to Manila, to work with the COH team to create a fish pond and garden at the King’s Garden orphanage. At the same time he did some of the political work needing to get permission for the Bone Collector Museum which is looking better all the time. He’s working to create it as his tentmaker project while his family works with us in ministry. When God called them to join us in ministry, their USA income from the government funded fire fighting job was significant. Abandoning it to answer the call, their monthly salary is about equal to what they used to make in one day. Yet they have learned to have joy in little while serving God in ministry with their two small miracle children. It has taught them another level of walking by faith. ;-)


      . . . thanks to the Kevin who saved up funds for almost year to give us a well. We’ve drilled, reaching a good supply of water at about 120 feet. It is just getting completed. That will provide water for the garden and fish pond. Depending on the test results it will prayerfully also provide potable water.


 

Click on an image for a larger view . . .

Fish Pond

Fish Pond

Fishpond gardens 1st generation

Fishpond gardens 1st generation

Cafeteria

Cafeteria

Cement ponds

Cement ponds

Cucumbers 1st batch

Cucumbers 1st batch

Drainage field

Drainage field

Dreaming & Working

Dreaming & Working

Fish Talapia

Fish Talapia

Fish pnd garden

Fish pnd garden

Fish transfer

Fish transfer

Fish transfer

Fish transfer

Fish transfer

Fish transfer

Garden

Garden

Garden May

Garden May

Garden of rocks 1st gen

Garden of rocks 1st gen

Looks good

Looks good

Lotsa lettuce

Lotsa lettuce

Sweet Cucumber

Sweet Cucumber

Tildo in the garden

Tildo in the garden

Tomato plants

Tomato plants

Vegetables May

Vegetables May

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This is the

Family Circus . . .

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Former gas tank area

Family Circus Children’s Ministry was created by Assembly of God Church missionaries Darrell and Sandy Blatchley in 1993 to produce high impact and joyful methods of presenting the Gospel (#1) to children and (#2) to their families. 

 

The purpose of the Family Circus is to bring the life and joy of Jesus, combining both discipleship and evangelism, to reach lost children, while ministering to the needs of the child, both spiritual and physical.

 

Each week five to six thousand people of all ages attend the Family Circus church services held under the ‘Big Top’, a big circus tent pitched in the center of the densely populated “Muslim Friendship Village in Davao City, Mindanao City, PHILIPPINES. Approximately 4,000 of the 6,000 member congregation are children- half of which are malnourished.  More than 1,000 are adults.

Please pray for Darrell & Sandy, and the team. God grant them sufficient:

  • Strength,
  • Energy,
  • Wisdom,
  • Knowledge,
  • Discernment,
  • Peace, and
  • Joy - unspeakable and full of Glory!!

Pray for food - spiritual and physical - sufficient to help with the needs of those attending Family Circus.

 

Pray for supplies, building materials, permits, etc. for current and future needs of Family Circus.

 

Pray for health and safety for all those involved in the Family Circus mission outreach.