Maine company farms year-round using organiponics at UMaine’s Aquaculture Center


My name is Jeff Walls. I’m from Applied Ponic
Technologies. Basically, what we’re trying to do is utilize
organic nutrient sources to raise plants and get away from standard agricultural practices,
which are largely petro-chemically based. What we’re using is fish and worms. We use
the waste from both of those entities to grow our plants. In return, we’re using the plants
to filter the water that basically cleans it for the fish. We’re trying to produce as
much food as we can out of as little as possible. Even though it can’t be classified as organic
at this point, it’s an organic hydroponic system, or organiponics is what it’s actually
called. Right now, what we’ve got in the system is
rainbow trout, is what we’re using for our fish species. We’ve done rainbows, brookies,
brown trout. I’ve had shiners in these systems before. There’s nothing that’s off the table
as far as what we want to try here in the system, because we just want to see what it
can support. We want to create a year-round food production
unit that we can do in this area. Warmer areas, it’s easier to farm year round. In Maine,
it’s not so easy to farm year-round. We’ve got strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers.
We’ve got tons of kale. Lettuce and spinach are also very popular items for us. The University of Maine and the Center for
Cooperative Aquaculture Research has been invaluable to me. My partner and I came up
here one day. We were talking about starting this business, and I said, “There’s a place
in Franklin that does aquaculture. Let’s call them up and see if we can get a tour of their
facility.” To have this resource right in our backyard,
I don’t think very many people understand how magnificent that really is, and what strides
we can actually take as a state because of this resource. They’ve been absolutely phenomenal
in helping me get this system set up, because they want to see this succeed, too. We just started doing farmers’ markets this
year, and we’ve seen a steady increase in business. It’s super encouraging. People are
very excited about it, and all indications are very positive for great growth in the
future.

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