Almost everyone loves the taste of fresh fish, but it can be hard to come by in West Virginia, unless you fish on the regular yourself. Blue Acre Appalachian Aquaponics, located in Kermit, West Virginia, is ready to solve this problem. They are bringing fresh fish and vegetables to the region, as well as introducing new jobs and a new type of facility to the State.
Bringing Something New to the Region
Blue Acre is West Virginia’s first ever aquaponics facility. Aquaponics is a specific type of system in which fish and plants are able to be raised together, without any soil.
“Aquaponics is a food production system in which the waste produced by farmed fish supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purifies the water, producing healthy fish and vegetables for local and regional consumers,” Says Christian Williams, co-manager of Blue-Acre. “The fish produce ammonia, which is transformed by bacteria into nitrate. The nitrate is then soaked up by the roots of the plants that are placed in floating rafts.”
Blue Acre raises commercial quantities of tilapia, and a vegetable selection consisting mainly of lettuce, kale, and swiss chard. Both the fish and the vegetables are harvested on-site. “Our customer base is both local and regional, with our regional sales being facilitated by the Turnrow Appalachian Farm Collective,” Christian says.
Blue Acre was made possible by grant funds awarded to the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, who owns the facility.
“The facility was constructed with grant funds provided to us through the WV Department of Environmental Protection agency’s AML Pilot Program,” says Mingo County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Leasha Johnson. The pilot program administers funds to Blue Acre and similar projects, which are built on abandoned mine sites.
Christian believes that Blue Acre and similar businesses can bring great things to the region, and to the state. “This facility is very important to the state as it can grow fresh, healthy fish and produce, not only for locals, but also for those across West Virginia via Turnrow,” Christian says.
Leasha is also optimistic about everything Blue Acre can provide for the area. “Once the facility is at 100% production, it will act as a workforce training center for partners to develop an innovative agriculture workforce,” she says. “Blue Acre is locally rooted, innovative, and reliable.”
Additionally, the facility will provide a variety of agriculture curriculums and learning opportunities for both students and growers.
Blue Acre will be adding a solar array in the coming months to reduce energy costs and create an energy efficient agricultural model for other operations throughout the area.
Want to keep up to date on what’s happening at Blue Acre Appalachian Aquaponics? Check out their Facebook page, where they share plenty of videos, pictures, and info about what’s happening!
All photos from Blue Acre Appalachian Aquaponics Facebook