Southern Oregon farm building business on aquaponics

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The Farming Fish will raise tilapia and lettuce with its greenhouse aquaponic system in Southern Oregon.
Courtesy of The Farming Fish

The Farming Fish will raise tilapia and lettuce with its greenhouse aquaponic system in Southern Oregon. Each of the six tanks will contain around 600-700 fish of various sizes. 

A southern Oregon farm is making a run at establishing a year-round farming business using an advanced aquaponic system that will grow lettuces and fish in a symbiotic, closed-loop system.

The Farming Fish, a small farm in Rogue River, has its system — which combines the principles of hydroponic crop growth with aquaculture fish farming — in place and is already starting to harvest lettuce for sale at regional farmers markets. The Farming Fish will start harvesting tilapia in September.

Olivia Hittner, one of three partners in The Farming Fish, said that aquaponics allows the production of more food with fewer resources because the nutrients produced in raising fish — essentially fish poop — feed the lettuce and the excess lettuce nutrients feed the fish.

The Farming Fish aquaponics system, once up and running at full capacity, will be able to produce 9,000 heads of lettuce and 1,500 pounds of tilapia each month. As production grows, Farming Fish will start distributing through local grocery stores.

"We're on a constant harvest schedule," Hittner said. "We'll harvest lettuce weekly and tilapia monthly."

The lettuce and fish are raised in a greenhouse system (see photos) and Farming Fish, one of only a handful of commercial-scale aquaponic operations, will be pursuing organic certification.

"We really do believe this is the future of agriculture," Hittner said. "There's no waste."

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