The Bright Future Of Food Production
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The Bright Future Of Food Production

What is aquaponics?

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The Bright Future Of Food Production
Aquaponics How To

Aquaponics is the latest and most eco-efficient method of growing organic food. It is an ecosystem combined of fish farming and soil-less plant culture whereby the fish provide nutrients for plants through their waste, and the plants help purify the water within which the fish live. These systems can be built on a very small scale, like a fish tank in one’s living room with plants on the surface, or as part of a large commercial industry. Aquaponics systems in greenhouses are safe from rain, snow, heat, cold, wind, and insect damage. Furthermore, food can be mass produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers through aquaponics.

I wanted to obtain an insider’s perspective of this growing industry, and I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Theresa and Gerald Musielewicz, from Harris, Minnesota, who are starting up their own aquaponics business called Bright Future Farms.

Why have you decided to build your own aquaponics system?

"Jerry and I both come from backgrounds in the manufacturing industry and have reached a point where we felt we needed something different. Jerry recently left the engineering field to begin teaching manufacturing classes which has allowed him time to consider other options. He has always been open to learning and exploring new ideas. I am currently working as a Materials Manager, but am looking forward to doing something that feels meaningful and is enjoyable. We are both very capable and feel confident running our own company is the right direction for us at this point in our lives."

How did you learn of this industry?

"During the time Jerry was the Engineering Manager at a fiberglass manufacturing company, he met a potential customer that asked the company to quote making fiberglass fish tanks for his aquaponics business. As Jerry learned more about this technology, and their business relationship grew, the potential customer invited Jerry to an open house in Montello, WI to see and talk with different suppliers in this industry. As Jerry learned more and shared more with me, he asked that I watch a video that was on this potential customers’ website. Immediately upon watching the video, I knew this is the kind of work I would like to be involved with. This is what I want to do when I grow up! We quickly made the decision to move forward, but then had to research what, when and how to make it happen."

Did you have any formal training? What did you learn at training?

"We feel we’ve been training for this our entire lives by our love of gardening and nature. While Jerry attended the open house in Montello, WI, he learned of a well-known company in the aquaponics industry that not only sells aquaponics systems, but provides training, as well. We attended a 3 day master class offered by this aquaponics company. During this class we covered the history and benefits of aquaponics, the process, system methods and designs, the applications and where it can be used. We also learned about greenhouse environment, bio-security, keeping the system protected and operating properly. Crop selection, daily operation and fish biology were taught and discussed. We reviewed Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), the rules and regulations of aquaponics businesses, business start-up and operation. Fish and plant nutrition were covered, and the science of healthy plant growth. Marketing, coming up with a company name and promoting the business ended the course."

"A lot of research was performed to decide whether to create our own system or purchase a system. It is still early enough in our venture that we are considering one-on-one training at this company after our system has been installed. We will continue to watch for classes, seminars, and conferences to attend that will help us learn and grow. There are many resources available, including social media, where organizations and companies are sharing their knowledge and offering support to anyone who is interested."

What are your intentions with your aquaponics system in the immediate and far future?

"Our newly built greenhouse will contain an aquaponics system large enough to produce 460 pounds of fish and 2700 – 4800 heads of lettuce or other vegetables. Our intent is to start by selling at local area farmers’ markets, as well as local co-ops, markets and restaurants. The growth and profitability results of this system will determine if we move forward with a commercial system that will produce much more, and consume more time."

What kind of products will you be selling?

"Once our system is installed and the fish are growing, we will start producing and selling different types of leafy lettuce. Shortly after that we will introduce kale, herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers. Our options are limited to what can only grow in water."


When do you plan to start operations with your aquaponics greenhouse?

"Our aquaponics system is on order right now. Once that is ready to pick up we will get things set into place. There is a lot of plumbing work that will need to be completed. At that point we will bring in the “fingerlings” and wait for them to grow to a size that will sustain the amount of nutrients required for the vegetable rafts. Our goal is to be operational as early as late spring."


Would you recommend this system to others?

"I would absolutely recommend this system to others. Aquaponics can be as small as using a fish tank in your basement and growing a few vegetables on top, to extremely large commercial systems that require a lot of start-up money. Especially in our cold Minnesota climate, it will be so beneficial to have fresh produce available year-round. What we buy in the store has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to reach us, been packaged and bounced around, and is deteriorating before we even get it home."

There are so many positives to aquaponics, such as: a system can be set up in the smallest of spaces and take very little time while offering positive results. It can be set up in urban communities and provide jobs for inner city youth or in conjunction with homeless shelters. It will reduce the amount of transport time if more people sell locally, which will help with the condition of our roads and result in less fuel consumption. It obviously provides fresher, better tasting produce that lasts longer in your refrigerator. Being a self-sustaining system, it’s better for our environment. Also because of it being a self-sustaining system and using less water than traditional gardening, it can be set up in dryer climates and countries where produce is typically difficult to grow.

Aquaponics has such a bright future---a future that will hopefully increase organic food production in the United States and the world at large. Imagine communities all over will have reliable access to freshly grown, chemical free food for their families. If you would like to know more information about aquaponics, and if you have any questions, you can call Theresa at 651-235-6536 or email her at ssaquaponics@gmail.com.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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