Fishy Green Organic Farm, established in March of 2019, is a family owned and operated Aquaponic farm in the western suburbs. It was soon after college that Ashley Keller, who co-owns the business with her brother Mike, started to realize the importance of purchasing local produce. “After some research and meeting with local farmers, I learned a lot about the importance of sustainability, not only in our everyday life, but in agriculture. When my oldest brother Mike started growing produce hydroponically, we discussed the possibility of starting our own farm, where we would attempt to grow everything aquaponically,” says Ashley. The lack of aquaponic farms in this area to learn from or gain experience made this venture challenging. However, through trial and error, Mike successfully developed and built the entire system on his own. Ashley’s sister-in-law, Kristine, handles the planting and harvesting.
Specializing mostly in greens such as romaine, kale, arugula and butter lettuce, the growing process starts with non-GMO seeds. Once the seeds are placed in the system they remain untouched. Nothing comes into contact with the plants but the water in the tanks. “With aquaponics, instead of having to add nutrient to the plants, everything comes from the fish matter in the water. At harvest time, we take many sanitary measures including harvesting in single use gloves and packaging in a sanitary space. Knowing that we are providing the healthiest produce possible for our very own neighbors,” is the most satisfying part of their business, Ashley says. “We hear from so many people about how our freshness is unmatched. Our lettuce can last a month in your refrigerator!”
Aquaponic farming is also environmentally friendly. They typically only use 30 gallons of water each week which will yield around 1000 plants. This soilless process uses less land and labor than traditional agriculture, which makes it a great choice for urban farming. As sustainable farming practices become everyday discussions, there are hopes that in the future there will be more aquaponic farms like Fishy Green. Ashley says, “Within ten years, it will hopefully be easier for people to find locally sourced produce all year round.”
Fishy Green Organic farm is expanding into a 7,000 square foot barn this summer! You can visit them at local farmers markets or reach out to get fresh greens. If you are a restaurant or shop owner looking for samples, or have a group interested in touring their barn, please reach out to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website at https://www.fishygreenorganic.com/ or follow them on Facebook.