Kettering University and Metro Community Development in Flint, Michigan, are working together to build an aquaponics farm that could eventually feed area neighborhoods.
Metro Community Development first approached Kettering University to help research and plan the potential aquaponics facility, says Dr. Matthew Sanders, professor and director of the Center for Culminating Undergraduate Experiences at Kettering University.
Many restaurants boast a farm-to-fork experience, but how many diners are able to eat food harvested right before it arrives on their table? Fresh with Edge, headquartered in Rochester, Minnesota, makes it possible.
Fresh with Edge has found its niche in moving the farm indoors―to homes, restaurants and grocery stores. Its secret? Removing the need for soil by utilizing aquaponics and hydroponics to grow greens on towers. Herbs and greens at Fresh with Edge grow on 5-foot vertical towers in a greenhouse system. When ready to harvest, the towers are moved to a location where they will be consumed, such as a supermarket or restaurant.
Founder Chris Lukenbill and his wife, Lisa, came up with the idea of Fresh with Edge in 2011. Their idea grew from a desire to know where their food came from. Neither Chris nor Lisa was raised on a farm, but both have a strong base of agricultural knowledge, gleaned from aunts and uncles. Both work in computer science, and used this skill to establish a successful aquaponics enterprise.
Aquaponic-philes everywhere can look forward to three days of tours, trips and technical know-how at the September conference of the Aquaponics Association. This year’s conference will be held in San Jose, CA and runs from September 12 -13. The conference plays a significant role in normalizing and promoting what could be the future of American farming.
Meg Stout, engineer and the current chairman of the Aquaponics Association, feels she is a neutral leader in a time when aquaponics is becoming ever more prevalent and ever more competitive.
Many of Detroit’s urban agriculture ventures have a down-on-the-farm feel to them, but not the CDC Farm & Fishery. If anything, with its tubes and tanks, the business seems downright futuristic. You see, the Farm & Fishery is among the first aquaponic operations to set up in Detroit following the passage of an urban agriculture ordinance last year.
Aquaponic is a term that describes enterprises where aquatic creatures are raised and their wastewater is recirculated to help grow plants that in turn filter it for reuse. Located in a two-level building in the North Central Woodward area of the city, the grow station is now raising tilapia fish and cultivating herbs and microgreens to sell to area businesses.
Presenting subjects ranging from window farming to food security and lighting systems, the Indoor Agriculture Conference features two full days of education on controlled environment technologies, aero/hydro/aquaponic best practices and business models, automated nutrient systems, future trends, and financing options …
Agriculture is an ecosystem and needs to be treated as such.
That was the conclusion reached by business partners and former college roommates Tyler Gaudet and Jackson McLeod, who grow greens and raise fish at Fluid Farms.
Fluid Farms grows in a 5,000-square foot aquaponics greenhouse in North Yarmouth, Maine. The farm sells a variety of greens to area restaurants, and will sell their first fish (tilapia) this year.
The pair avoids the “sustainability” moniker, due to their belief that no form of production agriculture is 100 percent sustainable. Instead, they strive for a system that is not strictly dependent on inputs and outputs.
Josh Rittenberg, Ben-Yam Barshi, and Jared Kasner needed capital to fund the production of their modular home aquaponics system, the Aqualibrium Garden. They had created a prototype, but the industrial molds were very expensive. So the trio turned to Kickstarter, launching a campaign for 30 days in fall 2013.
“It’s really a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Rittenberg says of the Kickstarter campaign, calling the experience amazing but also harrowing.
“We were all round the clock answering emails.” Because Kickstarter has an international audience, they would get the emails in the middle of the night from countries like French Polynesia, and they had to be sure to answer every email.
Growing produce year-round in northwest Montana may sound complicated, but the owner of Aquaponics North, Mark Winchel, is keeping it simple.
Before turning to aquaponics, Winchel ran a horticultural business for 23 years and has learned that one of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur could make is trying to grow too fast, too soon—putting the cart before the horse, as he says.
“We know better now,” says Winchel. “We’re just doing this one step at a time. That goes all the way down our business plan, from what we’re going to grow and how to set our systems up; just very simple, as few steps as possible.”