Closed-Loop Aquaponics:

The Complete Course

Backyard, Educational & Commercial Systems

Highlighting Commercial & Educational

Oct 20 - 23, 2016  

Hosted by Schoolgrown

Santa Cruz, California

Closed-Loop Aquaponics:

The Complete Course

Backyard, Educational & Commercial Systems

Highlighting Home-Scale & Commercial

March 9 - 12, 2017  

Hosted by Produce Alive

Sacramento, California


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2008, Living Mandala
creative services by: 360 Degrees

Closed-Loop Aquaponics Trainings

With Applied Permaculture Design

Backyard, Family & Commercial Systems

Upcoming Trainings, Workshops, & Webcasts for 2016 & 2017

Our Instructors

Max Meyers

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. In addition to the work at MELC, Max provides Ecological design services 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 15 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: A Guide to Homescale Permaculture, as well as radio and television programs.

Lead Instructor

Jon Parr

Jon Parr, a leader in the emerging Aquaponics movement comes from a background of construction. Since his early childhood, Jon has been an avid fisherman of the California waterways. As a fish hobbyist, Jon has befriended many of California’s aquaculture community, and as a fish breeder himself, Jon has helped many aquaponics farmers fill their fish tanks.

Jon discovered aquaponics overcoming a problem with ground squirrels at his home in the Santa Cruz mountains. Jon left the craft / construction trade to pursue the aquaponic arts full time. During the years of research and real-world application, Jon developed numerous expansive aquaponic systems. He pioneered new methods, practices, equipment and understanding, many of which have become the standards of the Aquaponic industry today. Jon founded one of the largest commercial aquaponics systems in the world - an 8 acre farm under greenhouses in Watsonville, CA. Jon's hands-on approach to real-world application of sustainable permaculture and aquaponic production have made him a popular circuit speaker and one of the elite aquaponic industry experts. Jon’s current projects can be found at: & SchoolGrown.

Lead Instructor

Rob Nash

Rob Nash is the owner/operator of Austin Aquaponics and HannaLeigh Farm based out of Austin, Texas. He has been designing and implementing commercial scale aquaponic systems since 2007. Rob combined his years of hands on experience with training from Dr. Rakocy on the UVI model and at Nelson & Pade aquaponics, to pioneer one of the first commercial operations to implement the popular, integrated or media-raft-hybrid commercial systems. Rob’s passion for and dedication to educating others about this industry has allowed him to become a sought-after source of knowledge in the southern region, where he has taught hundreds of students. His farm and aquaponic systems have been showcased on The Central Texas Gardener and in 2013. He currently offers training workshops, consultation, and build/design of aquaponic systems for the beginner to advanced gardener, as well as commercial-minded aquapon. Rob is a one of the original founding members of the aquaponic association, and has served as a chairman sense its formation in 2011.

Lead Instructor

Samantha Rodriguez

Samantha is founder of lead designer at EZ Farms and Fish, which builds, sells, and designs custom Aquapionics systems for urban and backyard settings. Samantha is President and CEO of Sister’s Home Improvement & Design, Inc. Sister’s is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a green minded remodeling company with an emphasis on disabled accessibility. With an experienced eye, Samantha combines her construction and art background to achieve an aesthetic and simple way to integrate contemporary farming methods into everybody’s lifestyle. In 2009, she began EZ Farms and Fish and recently took on partners to become Sunset Sustainable Farms. Using the recirculating aquaponic technology, she is continuing to promote a “green” lifestyle by helping others produce sustainable quantities of organically grown vegetables and fish while achieving a degree of independence and fulfillment.

Guest Instructor

Brock Dolman

Brock is a co-founder of the Sowing Circle, LLC Intentional Community & Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (, where he co-directs the Permaculture Program and the WATER Institute ( in Sonoma County, California.

He is a wildlife biologist, permaculture designer, educator and watershed restorationist. Brock has been the keynote presenter at numerous conferences and has taught Permaculture internationally in Costa Rica, Ecuador, U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, Brazil, China, Canada, Zimbabwe & and widely in the U.S.A. He was one of the core co-facilitators for the International Permaculture Convergence 8 (IPC8) PDC in Sao Paulo, Brazil and has co-taught at least 70 PDC’s since 1995. In 2013, after hosting over 40 PDC’s OAEC gave out their 1000th PDC certificate. Recently he has been invited to be one of the co-facilitators of the upcoming PDC during the International Permaculture Convergence 11 (IPC11) in Cuba in November 2013. He has been featured in the award winning films: The 11th Hour by Leonardo DiCaprio; The Call of Life by Species Alliance; and Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution by Vanessa Shultz. In October 2012 he gave a City 2.0 TEDx talk: ( For over a decade he has served as an appointed commissioner on the Sonoma County Fish & Wildlife Commission. In 1992 he completed his BA, graduating with honors from the University of California Santa Cruz with the Biology Department and Environmental Studies Department.

Guest Instructor

Chris Byrne

Chris Byrne is a sustainability consultant bringing technologies to market and make operations more efficient and effective through the perspective of “Green Business” and Whole Systems Design. Chris received a GreenMBA in Sustainable Enterprise (“Green Business Development”) from the Institute for Ecological Entrepreneurship at New College of California in May 2005. Over the course of his studies and experience he has has become well versed in ecological technologies (including their adoption challenges) and business development strategies, including approaches to finance, marketing, and leadership for sustainability. Aware of impending resource supply challenges and their drivers, specifically in terms of energy, food and carbon, Chris uses strategic risk calculations into new whole systems and true cost business models. Chris Byrne's work has been further edified with masters coursework in Holistic studies at JFK University (prior to transfer to the GreenMBA), certification by the Cascadia Permaculture Institute as a Permaculture Design Consultant and Instructor, and self-study and participation in the 2006 Integral Sustainability Conference at Integral Institute. Chris has also completed a Small Farm course at the Oregon State University Extension Center, studied Garden Management and Micro-Farming workshops with John Jeavons, and most recently attended 2008 MacArthur Fellow Will Allen and Growing Power’s “From the Ground Up” workshop in February 2010 focusing on Compost and Vermiculture, Aquaponics, and Micro and Field Green Marketing and operations. Chris has consulted with a diverse group of clients, and has a  personal interest and focus on bio-regional food production and distribution (including alternative currency strategies and design).

Guest Instructor

Jay Markert  (“Jay Ma”)

Jay is a regenerative design consultant, educator, permaculture teacher, community organizer, event producer, and social entrepreneur. Jay works with organizations, businesses and communities designing, organizing, and facilitating projects, trainings, events, and initiatives for personal, ecological and social transformation in the United States and internationally. His design project management and implementation experience includes numerous local projects in his home bioregion in the San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California, nationally across the U.S., and internationally in India, Africa, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Hawaii, Canada, England & Australia.

Jay is the director of Sustainability Education & Events at Empowerment Works - a global sustainability think tank in action dedicated to the advancement of whole-system, locally-led solutions for a thriving world. Jay is also the Founder and Director of programs at Living Mandala - and has co-produced or facilitated over 100 educational programs, conferences and community development projects for over 15 years with many different organizations. Jay is the co-producer and production manager of the Building Resilient Communities Convergence, and was co-producer and production manager of The Global Summit IV: Women, Power, Money, & Politics in 2014.

Jay received his first Permaculture Design Certificate in 2001, received a B.S. through New College of California in Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community with a concentration in Eco-Dwelling & Natural Building in 2005, and is a Master's Candidate at Gaia University in Integrative Eco-Social Design. He is a two-time graduate of the pioneering two-year training intensive in Regenerative Design & Nature Awareness “(RDNA)” through the Regenerative Design Institute. 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. Jay is a skilled community organizer as well as an engaging educator passionate about sustainability, nature connection, social entrepreneurship, and creating a culture of human beings living harmoniously with each other and the environment. More information on Jay Ma can be found on his Linkedin Profile.

Guest Instructor, Facilitator

Partner Organizations & Sponsors



In Association With


NorCal Aquaponics

Austin Aquaponics

Fishnet Aquaponics


Max Meyers of NorCal Aquaponics

Jon Parr - SchoolGrown & Fishnet Aquaponics

Rob Nash of Austin Aquaponics

  1. Learn One of the Most Sustainable

  2. Food Production Systems in the World!

  3. * Use up to 90% Less Water

  4. * Save Labor, Time and Money

  5. * Permaculture Focus for Greater Self-Sufficiency

  6. * Off-Grid Systems & Aquaponics for Homesteads

  7. * Design for Diverse, Climates, Ecologies, & Cultures

  8. * Create a Thriving, Regenerative Business!

Course Overview

Wether you are a beginner, a backyard hobbyist, a homesteader or a skilled professional wanting to start a career in Aquaponics this training has something to offer. This aquaponics training will provide you with a solid foundation, in depth information, and 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 aquaponics training 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.

Learn from Over 30 Years of Combined Collective Experience!

This closed-loop aquaponics training will be led by our incredible team of aquaponics instructors, professionals and educators from around the world: Including:

  1. Max Meyers of Nor Cal Aquaponics - Known for combining the sciences of Aquaponics & Permaculture, Max brings 15 years of Permaculture experience as a farmer, homesteader, designer, and teacher, has a lifetime of raising fish, and a brilliant, technical mind.

  2. Jon Parr of Fishnet Aquaponics & SchoolGrown - With a background in construction and engineering, Jon Parr began aquaponic practice in 2009. Jon founded Fishnet AP in 2010, co-founded a Watsonville commercial greenhouse in 2013 -  one of the largest commercial Aquaponics systems in the world with of over 8 acres of Aquaponics in greenhouses, and co-founded SchoolGrown, in 2014.

  3. Rob Nash of Austin Aquaponics - bringing over a decade of experience with large scale Aquaponic farming techniques and hybrids.

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. than 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 from various successful experts in the field, 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:

  1. A detailed Aquaponics Course Manual covering all aspects of aquaponics including:

  2. Day-to-day operation of the system

  3. Design checklist

  4. Field tested formulas, calculations, estimates and guidelines.

  5. Complete designs, plans and materials lists.

  6. And much more in this nearly 100 page manual.

  7. 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.

  8. A set of detailed construction plans, including site plans, and piping schematics.

  9. Backyard and commercial aquaponics greenhouse system detailed designs from Rob Nash or Austin Aquaponics.

  10. Personal Q & A, tips, and hard learned secrets learned with successful professionals in the field.

  11. *This aquaponics 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 - wether 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 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.

Watch a Video of Max Meyers of NorCal Aquaponics Featured in Time Magazine On-Line

Watch a Video of Rob Nash of Austin Aquaponics Featured in Central Texas Gardener


Closed-Loop Aquaponics:

The Complete Course

Course Overview

Tuition & Registration

Includes Aquaponics Training Certification, course materials - including a 100 page course manual, backyard and commercial aquaponics systems detailed designs, and hands-on experience.

Standard Tuition: $1295

Early Bird: $995

Permaculture Design Course Graduates, Aquaponics Course Grads, & College Students: $895

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.

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

Meals & Lodging

Course tuition includes a light breakfast, snacks, and lunch during the course. Participants are responsible for their own dinner and lodging. There are local hotels, camping options, and other lodging possibilities available near by all training locations. We will send you more information on local lodging upon registration or inquiry.

Aquaponics Facts







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

“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

“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

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

“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

“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

“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


For questions and more information regarding the course:

e-mail: aquaponics(at) or

call: (707) 285-7231