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Free Webinar on Duckweed for Fish and Poultry Farming

April 4, 2015
Attention:  Fish and Poultry Farmers,
Love saving money on feed costs and raising healthier fish and poultry? We do too and that is why we LOVE duckweed.
If you’ve ever wondered the following:
– What’s all the fuss about duckweed anyway?
– How to wild harvest duckweed for feeding to chickens or tilapia
– How to raise tilapia and duckweed in a win/win integrated system
– How to raise duckweed in a small pond using animal waste
– How much duckweed should be fed to fish or poultry?
We’ve assembled a panel of hands-on experts to describe the “How To’s” and answer your questions.

David Beebe of Cherry Ridge Organic Farm, Middlebrook, VA. David raises tilapia and uses duckweed to “mine” the resulting waste nutrients from his fish tanks. He then returns those nutrients back as fresh feed for his tilapia, reducing his feeds costs by a large percentage

Ken Carman, naturalist and manager of Roxbury Park, Meggett, SC.    Ken has wild-harvested hundreds of tons of free duckweed for feeding to chickens and as mulch for his park. He’ll talk about his methods for duckweed harvesting and how his poultry have responded since adding fresh duckweed to their diets.

Meet Dr. Louis Landesman, “Dr. Duckweed” who is known around the world for his expertise on integrated farming systems that include duckweed. He will explain how to design your own integrated system that reuses nutrients and water over and over with the engine power of the sun.

It’s going to be an information-packed hour!  Have questions for the panel to incorporate into their presentations? Email them  to Tamra Fakhoorian, host, ahead of time.  There will be a dedicated Q and A session during the webinar as well.
 ILA Webinar:   Tuesday, April 7th,  2015  Noon Eastern  (New York time zone)   
For our international friends, try this time zone converter for easily calculating event time:

Note: This meeting will be recorded.  Participation limited to the first 20 responders.   RSVP to meeting host,

Beating the Duckweed Drum

March 18, 2015

A couple years ago, I had a meeting with the owner of a local farm supply store. I was hoping he could point me in the direction of local cattle and hog farms so I could procure manure for testing. The conversation got around to what all I was planning to DO with the manure. I happily talked about my duckweed venture and my plans for the biomass. This gentleman scratched his head, tried to keep a straight face, and made an effort to humor me.  Have to admit, it did bother me a little. As long as I found some manure though, I was happy. To heck with the critics.

Last year I stopped in again to that farm store. The owner spotted me and told me he’d seen me on the 6:00 o’clock news the night before. He was delighted for me. That was pretty cool, considering his resistance to the project the year before.

Today I stopped in that same farm store to pick up a few supplies. Just for fun, I asked to see the owner as I wanted to give him an update on what this crazy duckweed lady has been up to. Alas, he was out to lunch, so I gave a message to his gal behind the desk. The message was this:

“As a result of raising duckweed for the past two years here in Western Kentucky, I’ve now got duckweed projects forming in four countries.” Her jaw dropped.

I left with my purchases and a tiny smile.

Free Webinar: How to Conduct Duckweed Growth Trials

March 2, 2015
Have a few seats left for this event tomorrow morning, so I thought I’d invite my readers to attend. Please RSVP ASAP if interested. 
Dear Duckweed Aficionados,Bill Nye, the science guy would love our next ILA Round Table where we dig into simplified testing methods for duckweed growth trials.  You don’t need a PhD in Chemistry or even have access to a laboratory.  These are techniques that anyone can master.

You will learn…

  • What basic, low-cost equipment you’ll need (most can be bought off eBay or from your local store)
  • How to set up simple growth trials
  • How to interpret results, equipping you with a solid foundation for duckweed production on a larger scale.
  • Tips for “When All Else Fails…”


Meeting Time: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Noon Eastern (UTC/GMT-7)     

RSVP:     Limited to the first 25 responders.

How Toastmasters Changed My Life

February 4, 2015

Five years ago, I found myself preparing a presentation on duckweed for a conference in China. The audience would be PhD world-class researchers and I didn’t even have a college degree. I felt totally out of my league. So I hunted on the Internet and discovered that there was a club called Toastmasters in Paducah, KY that helped members learn how to communicate more effectively. Perfect!

I visited a meeting. Without warning, they made me get up and tell a little bit about myself. I remember turning bright red and not being able to think of a single thing to say. The club members told me that that happens a lot at first and were so supportive, I knew I’d come to the right place. That was five years ago.

During these past five years of being a Toastmaster, I have become amazingly confident and actually LOVE speaking in public at a moment’s notice. I’ve given over fifty speeches so far and look forward to receiving my Distinguished Toastmaster award this coming summer- the highest honor one can achieve in Toastmasters. I’ve enjoyed serving in various club officer roles through the years and each one has taught me solid leadership skills. As a result, I felt confident in co-founding and leading the first nonprofit in the world dedicated to commercial duckweed production, ILA (International Lemna Association) and my own duckweed company, GreenSun Products.

I currently serve as Area 65 Governor for Toastmasters, Intl. With the encouragement of my peers, I’ve recently decided to run for an elected position- that of Division F Governor. I’ve never run for election before so this is yet another fascinating learning curve.

I currently belong to THREE clubs at the same time and enjoy many friendships with fellow club members. These are my peeps- we’re all self-motivators, self-learners, and just a bit on the nerdy side. Seems like every time I turn around, one of us is getting promoted, are handed a huge raise or land a better job because of our rock-solid skill sets learned in Toastmasters.

Remember that China presentation? Nailed it big-time and even ended up moderating sessions at the conference!

Boy, I love Toastmasters!
lang: en_US

Duckweed Travel Adventures

January 6, 2015

1208140225eIn December, I traveled to the Philippines as a consultant on a duckweed pilot project. I was gone for eighteen days.. It took 23 hours of flights to go from Iowa’s frigid cold and snow to Manila’s heat and humidity.  It was a lovely shock to my system to see green landscapes in the middle of winter. I couldn’t get enough of the rice paddies, mango trees, towering bamboo forests. Still, the prettiest green of all… DUCKWEED PONDS!Duckweed Trial Pond

My contacts at MP Wood Philippines Inc. turned out to be an energetic, highly talented group of people who saw to it that I was treated to the whole Filipino experience-home cooked delicacies, entertainment, in depth exploration of both rural and city life including several market visits, and scenic travel around the region. I experienced cultural events like a pre-wedding celebration that lasted all weekend in a tiny village and a Christmas show, food, and gifts for underprivileged children, hosted by sixty Montessori school children. What stunned me was that the kids sang and danced to the very same contemporary holiday songs that my daughter sang in last year’s elementary school program in Kentucky. The holiday song circuit is indeed a global one,IMG_20141216_092131

I was introduced to researchers, university heads, professors, students, a wide variety of farmers and their farms, as well as the extended families and friends of my hosts. We would all talk late into the night after tucking away amazing meals. No need for a TV as the conversations were always lively. I felt almost guilty as I was having WAY too much fun.


Solar dryer showing heat collecting tunnel and dryer itself.

I did put in plenty of time on the duckweed pilot though. I ran hundreds of water quality tests and duckweed mat profiles. I did a ton of practical research on local organic fertilizers and solved algal bloom issues. I expanded the pilot to include another large pond for a new sustainable model and trained a couple of folks in monitoring techniques.  I helped tweak the design on a half-finished solar dryer. It was almost finished on the day that I left. I knew it was going to be a winner when a thermometer broke from the heat in the dryer’s solar tunnel. Now THAT’S HOT!

The last evening, the team surprised me with a going-away dinner in a Chinese restaurant. The featured dish of the evening was roasted wild boar. Very delicious. I felt like they killed the fatted calf for me and I was deeply moved. We toasted our friendship and united vision for a more sustainable country with glasses of Red Horse beer. They asked me to come back and I promised I would. Beyond the business side of things, I do feel like I’ve left a piece of my heart in the Philippines. Lovely country, lovely people. Great place for duckweed production.

This Week- Roof Hack

October 21, 2014

In painting the exterior of my home this fall, I noticed that the underlayment or “decking” was rotting under some eaves on my back porch. While I didn’t have water leaking into the house yet, I figured that now was better than later in trying a repair.

I put together a 12 foot tall scaffold and worked up the courage to climb up on the roof. Luckily, it wasn’t all that steep. This portion was covered with a 45mm EPDM rubber layer. I peeled back the EPDM and tore off enough shingles to determine where the rotting part stopped and the dry plywood started. I used a shallow cut via my Skill saw and cut a 16″ by 20 ft strip of plywood off the edge of the roof. As several of the rafter ends had rotted as well, I had to shore them up by cutting replicas out of 2×4’s and cut easements for the additional supports. Each piece required 4 specially angled cuts. A royal pain but one nice perk- my nail gun started working again after a year of retirement and made the job that much easier. I then reinstalled new pressure treated plywood, a layer of tar paper, a metal lip along the perimeter, and rolled the EDPM back in place. I used big head roofing nails to hammer everything down and followed up with roofing tar and fiberglass reinforcment netting running the length of the edge.

Sounds simple. Right?

Now the ugly details…

I had to get over my fear of heights. Drinking a cup of coffee while sitting on the roof and enjoying the fall colors of my woods helped tremendously. Wine or beer would have probably worked as well. If the roof could hold the weight, I could build a cool deck up there…  (me and my tree house fantasies…)

Whoever built that porch, sporadically insulated it but didn’t use tar paper or plastic sheeting so the wind was free to blow up under the siding, through the cracks in the insulation, and then through some really butt-ugly pressed wood serving as the inside wall. I’ve suffered for three winters with that enclosed porch stealing heat from the adjoining kitchen. Now I know why.

Wasps- As the walls were basically hollow and easily entered through large exterior holes, literally thousands of them have lived and died in those walls and ceiling. None of the living ones stung me which was nice. I couldn’t find my can of Raid, so I struggled with the concept of letting them live. They weren’t bothering me so I’ve taken the high road and am letting them be.

I took a shower  and discovered lots of wasp wings in my hair. Must have made me look quite lovely waltzing into Lowes for that plywood yesterday.

In the midst of fixing the roof of the porch, I got a little crazy and tore out the two remaining single pane aluminum windows and replace them with double pane Pella’s that I had laying around. It’s nice to be able to crank the new ones open and let the breeze blow wasp wings around now. I had to tear out the window framing studs and move everything over a few inches which is always fun for someone who has NEVER gotten the hang of perfectly “straight with the planet” anything. That and no upper arm strength so if nails and screws look like your grandma made an attempt at framing a wall, you’ll know why. Luckily, all will be covered up and no one will be the wiser. I’ve muttered THAT to myself more times than I can remember in this home retrofit. Am seriously considering ripping off that siding, sheathing it and replacing with new siding. That’s only a day’s worth of work. Or… nail a crude greenhouse to the whole shebang and use it for passive solar heating this winter. I like that idea better.

Old crappy porch- my new breakfast and plant haven- getting there!!!

Grow Duckweed Year-Round?

October 14, 2014

Now that it’s getting chilly here and winter is drawing closer, the question looms, “Can you grow duckweed year-round?”

I’ve tried it in various small pond to indoor sites and found that it is possible to at least extend the season by a couple of months here in Western Kentucky with nothing more than temporary greenhouse coverings or window sill batches, depending on how much you REALLY want to grow in mid-winter. I usually start up some trays of duckweed under florescent grow lights but have found that natural light does a better job. In a pinch, I’ve done a bit of both- natural daylight supplemented by florescent T-5 or T-8’s.

BTW: T-5’s are more energy efficient than T-8’s, which in turn are more efficient than T-12’s. However, there is a trade-off in terms of sustainability- if you’ve GOT T-12 fixtures and only are going to use them for a few extra hours a day to supplement natural daylight AND can benefit from their use by using them in a living space to light your den, reading nook, etc… then I recommend you continue to use them as is. If you have to go out and purchase fixtures- shoot for the  4 foot long T-8’s with 6500K Daylite bulbs or order T-5’s as you can afford them for best energy conversion. Here is a great read on indoor fixture and bulb selection.

If growing duckweed outdoors in kiddie pools, consider a simple plastic covering, anchored around the perimeter with boards and held up in the center by an upturned cement block in the water. Simple, fast, and while a bit on the ugly side, will extend your season by a month or two at the very least.

If you have a larger open pond, consider letting nature take a rest and coast until spring. Be sure to harvest enough to keep your window sills green and your heart hopeful when the snow is piling up outside. Your goldfish will love you for it.

Link to KFVS Channel 12 Interview

September 4, 2014

Thanks to Nicole and team for helping spread the word on duckweed’s many uses!


Note: Nicole mentions that I eat duckweed. I do but wanted to add that it is only select species grown in very clean

environments and usually cooked. Don’t want to mislead anyone and get someone sick.

TV Reporter visits Duckweed Farm

September 3, 2014

Nicole Cartmell of Cape Girardeau, Missouri KFVS Channel 12  interviewed me today out at the duckweed ponds.  The news clip will run here in the next couple of days. She asked a lot of great questions and all went smoothly. That is… until she got a shot of me  harvesting duckweed with a pole net.  NicoleAs I lifted the heavy net out of the water, the net fell off the pole. We both started whooping with laughter. RETAKE…

Here’s a picture of her in front of Walden Pond, where the duckweed was in fine form today- gorgeous coloration, an even green mat across the entire surface, and a silvery glint if you looked at it at shore level.

BTW: The Second Annual Duckweed Open House is a week from Saturday. 10-2pm. RSVP

Next post will detail updates. Have folks coming from a couple of states. Looking forward to a great turnout.





GreenSun Duckweed Farm Tour Announced

August 13, 2014

OnGoldenPondIn association with the International Lemna Association, Mother Earth News and Grit’s “Homesteading Education Month,” GreenSun Products is pleased to invite everyone to our second annual duckweed farm tour here in Western Kentucky. The event kicks off at 10:00am on Saturday, Sept. 13 with tours of our duckweed growing ponds. You will learn how to raise high-protein duckweed yourself for feeding to fish, chickens, and hogs, as well as many ways to incorporate duckweed in a robust garden setting. Learn how to raise earthworms, black soldier flies, and more with the incredibly versatile duckweed- the smallest plant on the planet.

Then settle back in a lawn chair next to a duckweed pond for a little country visiting, duckweed hors d’oeuvres and a wine tasting showcasing local vineyards. Bring along a fishing pole and a picnic lunch to make your visit complete!

RSVP for directions:

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