Tag: economy

Aquaponics Can Revitalize Connecticut’s Economy

By Brian Filipowich, Eric Pedersen, and Spencer Curry

The loss of a solid manufacturing base has left Connecticut trapped with long-term, structural economic problems.

But there is an elegant solution: tap into the state’s technological pedigree, agricultural past, and unused infrastructure to manufacture something different – world-class produce and fish.

Companies like Trifecta Ecosystems in Meriden and Ideal Fish in Waterbury are pioneers of an entirely new industry: aquaponics, recirculating aquaculture, and controlled-environment growing.  Aquaponics is a method of growing fish and plants in a closed system in which nutrient-dense fish water provides nutrients for hydroponic systems that grow produce all year long.

Already, Trifecta Ecosystems in Meriden has a total capacity to feed 200 families their weekly veggies all year round, in addition to 600 lbs. of fish protein grown per year.  Trifecta also helps more than 20 schools and non-profit organizations from around the state grow food for themselves using aquaponics.

Ideal Fish has tapped into the Brass City’s robust industrial infrastructure that includes high-quality manufacturing space, electrical power, water, waste water treatment, and transportation infrastructure. From Cleveland to Detroit, aquaponic farms are springing up in old factories.

The most advanced aquaponic growers in the nation, like Superior Fresh of Wisconsin, are growing sushi-grade salmon and over ten thousand units of greens per day in multi-acre controlled-environment greenhouses.  These growers provide a vision for Connecticut’s future.

We can no longer rely on shipping our food thousands of miles. Mounting environmental challenges and the demand for local food will force us to grow with these new efficient methods.

And aside from the produce itself, there will be thousands of jobs in agriculture technology, equipment, and training.

Why doesn’t Connecticut become an Aquaponics Center of Excellence? It sits between New York City and Boston, the largest food market in the U.S. It has the untapped or underutilized physical infrastructure, academic resources, and manufacturing expertise.  With world-famous agricultural institutions like UConn Agriculture Extension and UConn’s new Hartford campus, could farming be the answer to Connecticut’s economic woes?

September 21-23, the national Aquaponics Association’s annual conference Putting Up Shoots will be at the Hartford Hilton. The world’s top aquaponics growers will be presenting their work and discussing the potential for aquaponics. This is a great opportunity for the state of Connecticut to invest in an entirely new industry. Click here for conference info: http://bit.ly/2NZ4WTV

Eric Pedersen, CEO
Ideal Fish, Waterbury, CT

Spencer Curry, CEO
Trifecta Ecosystems, Meriden, CT

Brian Filipowich, Chairman
Aquaponics Association, Washington, D.C.

Important New Economic Agriculture Report

This new TEEB report is kinda nerdy, but if you are an aquaponic grower it’s vitally important.

TEEB (“The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity”) is a global initiative focused on “making nature’s values visible”. They have just released their latest report; Scientific and Economic Foundations.

Here’s the problem the report addresses: our current food system is loaded with invisible costs: 1) health care costs from pesticide use; 2) antibiotic resistance from rampant antibiotic use in our meat; 3) excessive water use; 4) aquatic dead zones from agricultural runoff; 5) excessive carbon use for food transport; 6) biodiversity loss from clearing land to feed a growing population, etc etc etc…

Here’s one specific example: a forest provides value to every human being: 1) it filters water; 2) it prevents erosion; 3) it sequesters carbon and releases oxygen; and 4) it preserves biodiversity which prevents against infestation, disease, and extinctions which could irreparable harm our entire ecosystem.

So if a large industrial grower clears 1,000 acres of forest to grow more corn, who is paying for this loss of value? Somebody else, or future generations.

In our “free market” form of capitalism, these costs should be taken into account and built into the cost of production. But because these costs are hard to quantify and evaluate, we simply ignore them and stick our heads in the sand like a flock of ostriches.

TEEB is the world’s leading effort to actually put a pricetag on these costs.

As aquaponic growers, we are able to grow the most fruits, vegetables, and fish with the absolute minimum resources necessary. And we can do it without pesticides, without antibiotics and without agricultural runoff. And we can do it local no matter where you are, from cities to deserts, from rooftops to warehouses.

In our “free market” economy, we need to put a price tag on hidden costs in order for aquaponic growers to fully monetize their efficiency.

Can you imagine how much aquaponics would grow if our economy started to charge the true cost of water, carbon, antibiotics, pesticides, deforestation, agricultural runoff, etc? The price of the industrially produced lettuce from 1,000 miles away would go way up, but the aquaponic-grower from your hometown could deliver it without an increase.

This TEEB report is a critical step in that direction.