Early when we were dating I went over to Jeff’s (my now hubby:)) and he made me pancakes (definitely not Paleo + definitely out of a box but super sweet:)). After breakfast, he started telling me some ideas he had been thinking of….those ideas scratched on paper while we were just getting to know each other have completely transformed our lives into taking a big leap of faith on what we like to call….”The Project”.
Mission + Vision
Provide sustainable food and energy independence to the world, and off it by radically changing our global approach to food production, delivering farming 2.0!
What is “The Project”?
Jeff and his dad always had a dream of living off-grid. He is an Aerospace engineer and has always wanted to travel off-earth! Just about every night he prayed before dinner to help provide food for those who need it. As the go-getter guy he is, he thought…”why don’t I do something about it”. A dream + a good heart, along with reports that by 2050 there will be 9.5 billion people on the planet + not enough land to feed everyone, have all combined into a project that helps sustainably feed people on this planet and if Jeff’s dreams come true…one day off of it (the aerospace side of him;)).
G 1:1 WAS BORN!! (Genesis 1:1…”In the beginning…“)
We spent some time writing our plan out on the office white-board figuring out how to align Jeff’s dreams with mine + decided to take our first Leap of Faith!
In 2014, after being married for a couple of years (I believe God gave us this time to get our feet under us as husband + wife:)) we dove in with both shoes on (i.e. we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!) + invested our retirement to build Hab 1.
What is the Hab?
A fully sustainable system designed to produce ethanol, vegetables, fish, + electricity. This system uses 90% less water than traditional agriculture + so much more w/ the updated designs (Hab 2). Automation is also a large part of this fully sustainable system! One of the greatest features is that you don’t need expensive arable land…these things can be popped right in the desert + 1 square foot = 2 in the Hab! This makes food available to more people!!
We went big w/ Hab1 to get out all the defects…with the end-goal to be able to ship smaller systems around the world!
Aquaponics is a form of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks (recirculating aquaculture) with soilless plant culture (hydroponics). The fish poo fertilizes the plants and the plants filter to purify the water for the fish! It’s a beautiful thing!
I won’t go into a lot of detail here but please check out this site if you are interested in learning more!
The principle of growing plants in water has been around for a long time!
The Aztecs raised plants on rafts on the surface of a lake in approximately 1,000 A.D.
There are multiple methods of aquaponics around today.
Aquaponics is only part of the equation for the “Hab”. Solar power, methane digestion (essentially a big composter), water saving-techniques, + automation all in one system are all part of the equation that separates our system from others on the market.
That, along with the fact that with the updated system, people will be able to grow beautiful, healthy, organic produce with minimal amounts of water in regions where this would likely not be possible!
It has been 5 years since we started this big leap of faith and A LOT has happened since then….
- In order to raise money for the project we grew + raised micro-greens. We sold them to our local grocery store and restaurants.
- Jeff started a youtube channel (therealmartian.com) that now has 28,000 subscribers! More on this in another blog post:).
- Through youtube, Jeff gave a TEDx talk and spoke at the International Space Conference.
- Building and operating Hab1 has been a priceless learning experience to be able to build Hab2 (the one we are building to sell).
- We partnered with Eden Grow Systems out of Houston, Texas who we met at the International Space Conference.
- We had our first employee to help with micro-greens + more!
- We lost our first employee, lost a customer, we were just about to break even, our delivery vehicle broke down, + didn’t get a big customer that would have helped us break even all within a very short period of time…so we shut down micro-green operations.
- Last winter the snow hit hard in a short amount of time and the greenhouse decided to give out on us (even though the greenhouse was rated to be able to handle the snow-load that we had).
- Were able to get insurance money from greenhouse loss.
All because of insurance money we have been able to…
- Have help physically/financially tear down Hab1 (huge help!).
- Met Happy Healthy Homes who did the demolition for us + want to partner with us on helping build Hab2 with some really cool sustainable ideas!
- Have enough money to get going on the Hab2 build.
- Take the biggest leap of faith in our marriage….
Jeff left his full-time job as a project manager for a subsidiary company of Boeing to work on the project full time + help make a dream a reality!
I won’t lie…This project has been extremely hard on our marriage + life. Jeff has essentially been working 2 full-time jobs for 5 years now. There have been a lot of doubts + questioning along the way + a not-so-great attitude on my part. Did I mention this has been really hard?!? Especially because I have struggled to find my place in it all. Growing microgreens forever definitely was not my dream.
Which brings the question you might be thinking…”Where do I fit in in it all???“
You might guess that my passion is healthy food! This system that my husband has designed is a way for people to sustainably have beautiful, healthy, organic produce! Not just for families here in the US but our dream is to partner with non-profits to get these systems to other countries in need.
When I was a Registered Nurse I had always wanted to go on a mission trip to Africa. I wasn’t able to go as a nurse; however, this project does one better in the fact that prayerfully I will get to go with my husband by my side:). How cool would it be to provide fresh produce + fish to children in need!
For our first prototype, Hab1, my job was all about growing! With really no experience in growing besides flowers and labeled myself as having a brown thumb, I learned all about Aquaponics and we grew some pretty cool things! Growing + selling microgreens was an adventure of its own! I even became a Master Gardener for 2 years to help me learn how to grow!
Not just growing…I also learned about running a business and was the sales + delivery girl. Wow…looking back…I really did learn a lot! I do miss eating those pretty greens…but to be completely honest I don’t miss growing + selling them. It was a lot of work + am so grateful for the help of our amazing family + friends along the way. We could not have done it without them!
Special thanks to my awesome mom who came to help me the countless number of times + Jeff’s family who was always willing to come to give a helping hand with the microgreens + aquaponics! Many more people have helped along the way!! Thank you!!
My dreams have changed a bit over the years + have new ones popping up but the one thing that remains the same is healthy food! Maybe even a cafe one day using our produce????
My next adventure in Hab 2 is going to be applying the knowledge I have from growing in Hab1 + learning more about some new techniques we are doing…Aeroponics. It will be an adventure!
Since I’m being honest…I will also admit that growing is not my favorite thing in the world to do but cooking with fresh produce is! I’m learning that sometimes, well…usually, you have to do the hard, un-fun things to get where you want to be + God uses those times to make you stronger + better. I know that He has sure helped me grow in many ways!! :).
What keeps us going is that we both believe this is from God + this project is what we are supposed to be doing. God keeps showing us that He is with us. It’s easy to get lost in what hasn’t happened yet but even my devotional talked about how it’s so important to realize + see what God HAS done + we have no idea His bigger plan! Time + time again through this project we believe He has shown + is showing us we are doing the right thing.
How God has shown us that He has been with us through it all!
- If it were not for youtube (which only happened because our neighbor is @wranglerstar with over 1 million subscribers who helped Jeff get going) we would not have been able to partner with Eden.
- Youtube has also been a means to get the word out about what we are doing + has helped us make connections that would not have otherwise been made.
- Eden’s CEO, and now our business partner, has been a positive light in Jeff’s light during some very difficult time + is connected with means to help us all get funded!
- God woke Jeff up one morning with a design for Hab2 that is amazing and am excited to share with you all! Patent in process!!
- Oh yeah, Eden connected us to a lawyer who is helping us patent the whole project!
- If the building had not collapsed from the snow we would not have had enough money to build Hab2 and Jeff to leave his job to pursue a dream!
- God has helped me grow + helped our marriage grow…and then grow some more + still growing…definitely the hard way, but am thankful!
Jeff have three phrases written on his whiteboard in his office…
- “I believe God has given us everything we need to solve our problems by looking to His creation for the answer.”
- “If this is from God, don’t worry, He will show us the money.”
- “God gives you the talent…you give the effort.”
God keeps showing us that we don’t have to worry, He is with us!
On Jeff’s last day work he received an email from someone who wants to partner with us from Africa! This definitely felt like it was not only an answered-prayer affirmation for Jeff that he was doing the right thing by leaving his job but also for me + my Africa dream. Since then Africa keeps coming up + I believe it is not a coincidence! It has been challenging for me to find my place in all this but I am so thankful that God is showing me that I am supposed to be a part of it!
God seems to be aligning our dreams! I’m excited to see what God has in store for us next + I will definitely be keeping you posted!
In partnering with Eden Grow Systems in Houston Texas our combined name is now Eden, using Jeff’s “Genesis” system design.
In the meantime, stop by therealmartian.com for lots more detail on the project + updates!
We thank God for all the people that have prayed for us + put there hard work + dollars into helping us along the way!
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6 NIV