Growing Fish in Greenhouses

NARR: Salad greens and fish go very well together. And they grow very well together, too. Arugula, watercress and yellow perch are growing together in greenhouses on a busy street in Milwaukee. it’s a promising experiment at a place
called Growing Power. The community-based urban farm grows
food for local groceries and restaurants. Those markets have been hungry for
yellow perch since numbers of the favorite fish crashed in Lake Michigan
in the 1990s. Will Allen runs Growing Power. ALLEN: We get two products in a pretty confined
system. If you look at that system, you got food growing up there, and you
got food growing on the next level, and down on the bottom you got 10,000, or probably
more like 9,000 now, but about 9,000 perch. We use the plants to filter out the waste. NARR: Plants, soil, and pebbles make natural filters. ALLEN: You got fish on the bottom,
you pump water up and let it matriculate through the beds and plants and
back into the systems down below. NARR: Allen is refining the process with
technical help from Fred Binkowski, an aquaculture specialist at the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. BINKOWSKI: You know the greenhouse
model is fairly unique for aquaculture. Not many people have been doing this. NARR: In many recirculating aquaculture
systems, the water is cleaned with expensive mechanical filters and other equipment. At Growing Power,
the plants perform the crucial tasks. BINKOWSKI: Getting rid of the solids, getting rid of
the ammonia, getting rid of carbon dioxide. NARR: Raising fish in cities offers many
advantages, according to Binkowski. BINKOWSKI: You’re creating a product
that you’re really putting at the center of consumer demand.
And, as a result of that, you’re probably reducing transportation
costs significantly. You’re creating jobs. You know, establishing businesses,
creating jobs in the city area. Abandoned factories, you know, with the loss of our
manufacturing base here in the northcentral region, and these are
opportunities to get these buildings back up and running again. NARR: Will Allen sees the benefits of
greenhouse aquaculture extending far beyond his particular Milwaukee neighborhood. ALLEN: We’ve taken this project into
systems that can be replicated easily around the world. Because, we have people coming in
here from around the world. And they see these systems, and they say, “I want this in my
community, in my small community.” So when we go into Ghana, we go into South America, into Peru, Columbia, and Argentina, they want this system. BINKOWSKI: What we can provide through the
Sea Grant Outreach Program, is all of the state of the art technology
for raising yellow perch. ALLEN: It really meant a lot to have this partnership. Like Fred said, it really offered to me an
opportunity for the University Institute to go into the community and do a community project
with a community-based organization. I think that is probably the most powerful thing
that I’ve leveraged around the country when I go around the country and
talk about our relationship.

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