The largest aquaponics facility in the world opened this summer in Northfield, Wisconsin, owned by Superior Fresh LLC. The facility houses 40,000 square feet of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout production using recirculating aquaculture methods and is expected to produce its first harvest in 2018. The fish waste is circulated through a 120,000 square foot greenhouse used to raise plants hydroponically. The facility expects to employ 50 people. Dr. Chris Hartleb, Professor of Fisheries Biology at University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, will be working closely with the firm as part of a business-academic partnership. Read more at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. Read More >
Today, for a change, I will gush.
Why the gushing? Because I’ve been hanging around Will Allen, an urban farming pioneer with nearly cult-hero status among foodies and farmers. He’s an inspiration, an overflowing font of information, and the picture of humility.
The son of a sharecropper, Mr. Allen swore as a young man that he’d never return to farming—now he’s the CEO of a Milwaukee-based community food center that’s doing so many bold things with food systems that it’s hard to keep track of all his good works. (He’s also a former professional basketball player, a MacArthur fellow, and a spokesperson for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign.) Read More >
The United States needs better food systems, and it needs more jobs. Aquaponics, a relatively new type of urban food production model, can give us both—sustainable food and green jobs.
Currently, the U.S. imports about 85 percent of our seafood, a large fraction of which is produced in overseas fish farms, by a process called aquaculture. Another 10 percent is “domestic wild catch,” which is made up of seafood caught by U.S. fishermen (NOAA). The remaining 5 percent comes from U.S. aquaculture. As global wild catch declines, aquaculture is steadily increasing as a viable replacement, although some aquaculture operations are criticized for being sited in open water or rivers, where fish escapes, exchange of fish diseases between farmed and wild fish, and environmental pollution are of concern.
But there is a different approach to aquaculture that addresses many of these concerns: aquaponics. Aquaponics is typically land-based, closed-system farming that is designed with the principles of agroecology in mind— fish species and vegetable crops are raised together in harmony— because fish waste serves as liquid plant fertilizer and plants strip the water of chemicals that are harmful to fish.
Agroecology, a method for integrating biological systems into agriculture, is widely recognized as a potential solution for increasing farm productivity and environmental sustainability of agriculture. Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, is strongly in favor of the agroecology approach, in which farmers create “complex farming systems that replicate the complexities of nature.” Read More >