Rene Michalak is now collecting tanks

Rene Michalak is now collecting tanks

From garages to greens

Materials are being gathered to test drive the idea of converting ordinary garages into environmentally friendly food factories.

Materials are being gathered to test drive the idea of converting ordinary garages into environmentally friendly food factories.

Rene Michalak, managing director of ReThink Red Deer, has been providing space in his family’s former home on Oxbow Street for the non-profit society’s ongoing efforts.

So far, he and his group have erected a greenhouse, replaced a pair of mature spruce trees with a yard full of berry bushes and set up systems to collect rainwater from rooftops.

They raise boxes of earthworms in the dining room and most of the living room has been converted to a pepper plantation.

There’s room for a guest in the spare bedroom while the master bedroom has been converted to an office with space for two desks.

The separate units mesh together in an urban gardening project designed as a demonstration site for people interested in growing a lot of food in a small space without creating negative impacts on the environment.

Until now, the garage has been left out of the equation, serving as a storage unit for vehicles and supplies.

Scratch that.

Michalak and another member of the society are now putting together ReThink Red Deer’s version of the MEGGA-watt garage. The acronym comes from Micro-Energy Generating Garage Assembly, which converts a heated garage to generate power and grow food.

With a gas-fired heater for backup, the ReThink Red Deer garage is being refitted with solar panels that will be used to support fish tanks and aquaculture during the winter while provided heat generation and storage for the greenhouse during the warmer months.

Once complete, the system will be able to produce food throughout the year, including production of fish species such as tilapia, which grow well within a limited environment and produce excellent plant fertilizer, says Michalak.

Rainwater will be processed and balanced for the fish and then filtered and recycled through an aquaponics system being set up to grow sprouts.

Coupled with the garage will be a geodesic dome greenhouse that will capture sunlight to generate the heat and electricity needed to operate the system.

The geodesic shape was chosen because it captures the maximum possible sunlight, says Michalak.

Probably the most costly element in the plan is the light system set up for the sprouts, which he estimates will run to $30,000.

Ultimately, many of the costs can be reduced by scavenging an scrounging the materials, including food-grade water and fish tanks as well as the building materials required for the greenhouse.

The beauty of it is, with a two-car heated garage, there will still be room for a car and a small workshop, says Michalak.

He and his partners hope to raise some of the funds they will need through a contest being held by The Carbon Farmer, an environmental project based at Manning, Alta. Winning communities will receive $2,551 to help fund their eco-friendly facelifts.

Michalak encourages people to investigate the idea and then vote for it as often as possible by visiting www.thecarbonfarmer.ca and then clicking the Face Your Footprint link.

Primarily web based, ReThink Red Deer is organized to gather and share information on environmental sustainability, says Michalak.

It takes no ownership of its work or its findings, preferring that people use its resources to learn and to share their own findings, he says.

Some of its funds are raised through the sale of worm farms and food produced at Michalak’s former home in Oriole Park.

Visit ReThink Red Deer online at www.rethinkreddeer.ca or call 403-986-7981 to learn more.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Glen Carritt is organizing a United We Roll Canada convoy that will travel to British Columbia in June. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Members of the Red Deer RCMP downtown patrol monitor for drug activity and property crimes. (Advocate file photo).
Two peace officers are training to join Red Deer’s downtown police patrol unit

This “integrated” unit will be the first in Alberta

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

A homeless shelter was promised Red Deer to help the city deal with downtown issues. The city and province finally released a signed agreement on what the facility will offer, a year after a $7 million commitment was made for the project by the province. (Advocate file photo).
City and province take next step in bringing a 24/7 shelter to Red Deer

It will include a detox and counselling services

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

European Union Ambassador to Venezuela Isabel Brilhante Pedrosa meets with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza at his office in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The meeting was called after the EU sanctioned an additional 19 Venezuelans for "undermining democracy and the rule of law" in Venezuela and the National Assembly declared the EU ambassador "persona non grata." (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Sanctions prompt Venezuela to expel head of EU delegation

Sanctions prompt Venezuela to expel head of EU delegation

Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman departs a ceremony memorializing U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, as an urn with his cremated remains lies in honor on a black-draped table at the center of the Capitol Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Relatives of inmates cry outside the Centro de Privación de Libertad Zona 8 prison where riots broke out in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Deadly riots broke out in prisons in three cities across the country due to fights between rival gangs, according to police. (AP Photo/Angel Dejesus)
Gang clashes result in Ecuador’s deadliest prison riots ever

Gang clashes result in Ecuador’s deadliest prison riots ever

El Chapo’s wife goes from obscurity to celebrity to arrest

El Chapo’s wife goes from obscurity to celebrity to arrest

This combination photo shows notable cast members from the musical "Rent," from left, Taye Diggs, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp and Daphne Rubin-Vega. The New York Theater Workshop will celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Rent” with a gala on March 2 that will be available to stream through March 6. (AP Photo)
La Vie Boheme: ‘Rent’ musical celebrates 25th anniversary

La Vie Boheme: ‘Rent’ musical celebrates 25th anniversary

This cover image released by Knopf shows "Speak, Okinawa," a memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina. (Knopf via AP)
Review: ‘Speak, Okinawa’ is a masterful memoir and more

Review: ‘Speak, Okinawa’ is a masterful memoir and more

FILE - Yara Shahidi arrives at the 51st NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, Calif., on Feb. 22, 2020. Shahidi not only stars in the young adult dramedy “grown-ish,” but she also serves as an executive producer. The 21-year-old, who swaps out reading scripts for text books as a Harvard student, says she’s equally invested in what happens behind the camera. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
Yara Shahidi doesn’t use her voice just to hear herself talk

Yara Shahidi doesn’t use her voice just to hear herself talk

This image released by CBS News shows the logo for the new "60 Minutes Plus" program. CBS News says it is launching a streaming version of "60 Minutes" on the new Paramount Plus service, starting next week, hoping to expose the durable brand to a younger and more diverse audience. (CBS News via AP)
‘60 Minutes’ will have streaming spinoff on Paramount+

‘60 Minutes’ will have streaming spinoff on Paramount+

Most Read