Going Green: Year-round farming
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This former Oneida Silver manufacturing plant is now the home of a farming operation, a farm that can grow produce year round using aquaponics.
Mark Doherty, Aqua Vita Farms President said, “We grow lettuce, we grow basil, and we grow other culinary herbs. We grow salad greens. We’re working on a system that will do tomatoes as well.”
The bluegill sunfish provide the plant food.
Scott Fonte, Aquaculture Director said, “They are the nutrient source that the plants require to grow. It if wasn’t for the food we feed the fish, the plants wouldn’t have any nutrients with which to grow.”
We go seed to harvest in about 30 days on average and then we can harvest every seven days thereafter and then once the plant reaches the end of its useful life, what happens is the more times you harvest it’ll actually become bitter.
Aqua Vita Farms is producing 200 pounds of its lettuce mix every week, which is sold to a number of area restaurants and produce retailers. The plan is to increase production to 800 pounds a week and soon begin growing several hundred pounds of tomatoes. They also plan to market their fish.
Fonte said, “These fish behind me, we hope to be using them as breeding stock to advance the breeding program to use tilapia in the future here. We’d like to produce our own fish in house.”
And unlike traditional farming, this operation is weatherproof.
Doherty said, “Seven days a week, 365 days a year, it doesn’t matter whether it snows, it does matter whether it rains or doesn’t rain, it doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or not we just keep on growing.”