A Family Affair: Living Water Farms Brings Hydroponic Produce to Illinois

Image Credit: Living Water Farms

Image Credit: Living Water Farms

Living Water Farms in Strawn, Illinois is a family affair. Denise Kilgus established the hydroponic farm with her husband Kevin and their daughter and son-in-law, Natalie and Mark Schneider, in April of 2008.

Before the Kilguses founded the farm, the couple had practiced large-scale gardening for over 28 years in central Illinois. When the family started gardening, they grew only enough food for themselves. But as the years went by, they began growing on a larger scale and founded The Stewards of the Land, LLC, a local organization to help promote sustainably grown, local produce in Chicago.

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Missouri Couple Transforms Turn-of-century Farm into Aquaponics Enterprise

utterbackfarmsweb

Image Credit: Utterback Farms

Success has come fast for Beverly and Dave McConnell of Utterback Farms in Middletown, Missouri. Almost overnight, the couple has established an aquaponic farm and are just months away from making a profit.

The McConnells inherited the farm, which was established at the turn of the last century, from Beverly McConnell’s parents. It was Beverly’s avid gardening hobby, inherited from her Depression-era grandmother, which led the couple to enter the world of commercial growing in their retirement.

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Houweling’s Combined Heat and Power Project is California’s First to Qualify for Assembly Bill 1613

The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling's supplies power and heat to the company's greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

The GE J624 Two-Stage Turbocharged Gas Engine at Houweling’s supplies power and heat to the company’s greenhouse providing both lower carbon dioxide emissions and increased overall efficiency of over 90 Percent

News Release – Since officially unveiling an 8.8 megawatt Combined Heat and Power (CHP) onsite energy project in August 2012, Houweling’s Tomatoes of Camarillo, CA has increased its onsite power generation capacity to 13.2 megawatts. As of November 1st, Houweling’s will be the first CHP installation to meet the requirements for participation in California Assembly Bill 1613.

AB 1613, began with a 2005 California Energy Commission (CEC) study investigating the CHP market and policy options for increased penetration in California. The result was the 2007 Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act, commonly referred to as AB 1613. This program operates under strict criteria designed to reduce waste energy, meet a minimum efficiency of 60%, and reach NOx emissions of no more than 0.07 pounds per megawatt-hour. Ultimately it provides qualifying projects a favorable Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the state utilities. Read more

With Market for Local Hydroponic Produce about to Explode, Texas Family Farm Expands Operation

Hydroponic lettuces at Bluebonnet Hydroponic Farms.

Hydroponic lettuces at Bluebonnet Hydroponic Farms.

Bluebonnet Hydroponic Farms has been in business since 2000, when Emile Olivier and his wife moved to the U.S. from Canada. Emile wanted to capitalize on his family’s small-scale backyard gardening hobby, so the couple started the farm with cash infusions from previous endeavors and with a small inheritance.

Soon, the project became a family affair when Catherine Anderson, Emile’s daughter, and David Anderson, Catherine’s husband, began to work on the farm.

The family decided to utilize hydroponics as the technology would allow them to obtain higher yields on a smaller spatial footprint than conventional agriculture. David’s father-in-law also perceived that there was a demand and niche market for hydroponic produce. Read more

Organic Aquaponic Farm Embraces Environmental and Economic Sustainability in Oregon’s Evans Valley

Jericho Romaine Lettuce growing in the aquaponic system at The Farming Fish in Oregon. Photo Credit: The Farming Fish.

Jericho Romaine Lettuce growing in the aquaponic system at The Farming Fish in Oregon. Photo Credit: The Farming Fish.

Embedded in the bucolic Evans Valley just outside of Rogue River, Oregon is The Farming Fish, a 40-acre certified organic farm. Thirty of the acres remain wild and wooded so owners Michael Hasey and Olivia Hittner can harvest native edibles like mushrooms, berries, and ferns, while the remaining 10 acres are made up of pastureland for livestock, vegetable row crops, an orchard, and an aquaponic farming operation.

Although Hittner realizes aquaponic farming is not a “silver bullet,” she and Hasey do see it as an integral part of our agricultural future. In a world of scarce resources, aquaponic farming conserves natural resources like water while still producing a greater food output, says Hittner. As a result, Hittner sees aquaponics as a way to close the hunger gap and preserve resources for future generations. Read more

Five-acre Aquaponic Farm in Florida Finds Market for High-end Greens

Ryan and Katie Chatterson survey aquaponic beds at Chatterson Farms.

Ryan and Katie Chatterson survey aquaponic beds at Chatterson Farms.

Ryan Chatterson has figured out that special combination of skills needed by today’s aspiring aquaponic farmer: the ability to grow and the ability to market.

Chatterson began his five-acre Florida-based aquaponics farm, Chatterson Farms, to feed his family and community with nutritious produce he calls “better than organic.”

“We follow organic standards but use no pesticides (they will kill the fish), 90% less water and can provide more food from a smaller footprint (than traditional agriculture),” explains Chatterson. “We have zero waste discharged from our facility and are extremely energy efficient which leaves more room for profit and growth.”

In addition to selling high-end greens at the local farmers’ market, Chatterson provides 35-50 families per week with fresh vegetables for their table through a home delivery club.

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Days Away from First Harvest, Sustainability is Lynchpin to Bay Area Aquaponic Startup

Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Interior of Viridis Aquaponics greenhouse in Watsonville, CA. Photo credit: Viridis Aquaponics

Beginning an Aquaponics business takes hard work, the right partnerships and a patient nature when it comes to organic pest control. Viridis Aquaponics is a burgeoning startup based in Watsonville in the San Francisco Bay area. The farming business has been quite a learning curve for co-owner and former construction businessman Jon Parr. A mutual friend introduced Parr to Drew Hopkins. Finding they had complimentary business skills, they began devising a business plan for a sustainable greenhouse-based farm. That plan found an investor and soon became the eight acres of grow space that now houses Viridis Aquaponics, Inc. The company is days away from its first harvest. Read more

Beylik Family Farms’ Embrace of Hydroponics Proves Out-of-Box Thinking Can Sustain Multi-Generational Farm

Photo Credit: Beylik Family Farms

Photo Credit: Beylik Family Farms

Beylik Family Farms has proved that out-of-the-box thinking on agriculture can be rewarded with a multi-generational business model – one that keeps the family on the farm without even getting their hands dirty.

“Back in 1971, hydroponics were not a proven technology,” current family farmer Scott Beylik said. “We are light years away now from how we started out. And we get better yields than ever.”

Beylik’s dad was an aerospace engineer and his grandfather was a plant biology teacher at Culver City High School back in the early 70s when they got an idea to work for themselves. Grandpa Beylik researched growing hydroponically in an industry that couldn’t imagine year-round greenhouse production with no dirt involved. Read more

Circle Fresh Farms Ties Network of Hydroponic Farms Together to Grow Local Food Movement in Colorado

Photo Credit: Circle Fresh Farms

Photo Credit: Circle Fresh Farms

Circle Fresh Farms, in Colorado, likes to say they were born from a vision of founder Buck Adams based around sustainability, local foods and greenhouse farms, which pretty much describes the seven-year-old company.

But that amiable description leaves out the extended version, which illustrates Circle Fresh’s efforts to transform an industry towards more locally produced foods, in ways that sustain and restore the health of the land and local communities, with a business model that increases opportunities for participants, while benefiting local retail stores. Read more

With 3 Million Heads of Lettuce, Cleveland Hydroponics Operation Revitalizes Low Income Area

Photo Credit: Green City Growers.

Photo Credit: Green City Growers.

Heads of lettuce may not seem life changing, but when you grow 3 million of them each year, the result can reinvigorate an entire area.

Such is the idea behind Green City Growers Cooperative’s greenhouse in Cleveland. At three-and-a-quarter acres, the greenhouse spans the equivalent of three football fields.

“It’s one of the largest local food initiatives in the United States,” said Mary Donnell, Green City Growers’ chief executive officer. It also ranks as the nation’s largest food production greenhouse in a core urban area. Read more