June-July, 2015 Grower Tour
One of the many benefits of the Nelson and Pade Grower Program is the personal visits to our growers by our senior staff. In late June through early July, Rebecca Nelson and John Pade took a tour around Lake Michigan, travelling 1700 miles to visit growers and potential growers in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois.
The first stop was in northern Wisconsin to meet with a group considering a commercial aquaponics farm in a warehouse. This particular warehouse has excellent potential for an aquaponics farm. It was clean, insulated, heated and cooled. Plus, there are floor drains and a large, open room that will fit the new commercial 6-500 perfectly.
Continuing on, we went to Carney, MI, where we visited the Miller Family Farm. The Millers run a diversified farm that produces maple syrup and they grow a variety of vegetables outdoors and in hoop houses. Their 6-500 Clear Flow Aquaponic System® is in a controlled environment facility, with the fish and filter tanks in an insulated building and the plants in a connected greenhouse. This is a very well-run aquaponics enterprise with every detail attended to, right down to successful marketing. It is rewarding for us to see our growers successfully growing and selling their aquaponics crops. And, enjoying the lifestyle along the way.
Leaving Carney, we ventured over the top of Lake Michigan, crossing the Mackinac Bridge into northern Michigan from the Upper Peninsula. We drove down the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to Traverse City where we met with another potential grower. Traverse City is a beautiful beachfront community that caters to vacationers year ‘round. There is an excellent market for the fish and vegetables grown in an aquaponics farm. The individual we met with will likely be installing a 6-500 Clear Flow Aquaponic System® to fill the demand for fresh, premium quality fish and vegetables in Traverse City.
Leaving Traverse City, we dove southeast to Robin Hills Farm in Chelsea, MI. Robin Hills Farm is a destination farm in development. The farm is on a 160 acre parcel that includes an organic Community Supported Agriculture program, fishing ponds, organic sheep farming, a soon to be completed wedding barn and a greenhouse which houses a Family Farm Market Clear Flow Aquaponic System® and an area for classes and teaching. The team was finalizing the last details of the installation of the aquaponic system when we arrived. It was a great opportunity to discuss the water flow and intricacies of the system prior to filling it with water.
After visiting Robin Hills Farm, we drove through southwestern Michigan, northern Indiana and then into Illinois. We maneuvered through the Chicago traffic to stop at Metro Farms near the intersection of Cicero and Chicago Ave. Benjamin Kant and Shockey Funke have created a green food oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle. It is very inspiring to see the completion of this project after lengthy bureaucratic and regulatory issues. Metro Farm’s 12,000 sq. ft. greenhouse houses a 6-800 commercial Clear Flow Aquaponic System®. It is stylishly finished with a great attention to detail and functionality. Benjamin shared that he loves coming to work every day, enjoying the space they’ve created and nurturing the fish and plants. With plans for expansion, Metro Farms will have a positive impact on the availability of fresh food in Chicago.
It was an excellent trip and wonderful to see our clients doing well and enjoying life as successful aquaponics farmers. Stay tuned for details on the next Grower trip!