2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2, Page #06[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
How They Set Up Their Aquaponics Greenhouse
Providing for the food pantry has been Richard Tyler’s passion, especially after 17,000 people lost jobs in the Vian, Okla., area in 2013. Food pantry clients increased to 780 families a month. After Tyler had his own financial challenges, he decided growing food in a greenhouse could meet both the needs of the food pantry and also help him make a living.
After much research and consultation, the Tylers opened NOAH (Native Oklahoma Aquaponic Harvest) in August. The nearly 10,000-ft. greenhouse includes a 1,700-ft. store. Each week they produce 2,000 heads of lettuce, about 200 lbs. of other vegetables, and many pints of strawberries. In addition, up to 300 tilapia are sold each month.
The fish are key to success of the operation, Tyler says. “I didn’t want to go with straight hydroponics because mixing chemicals and testing the water constantly requires a lot of skill. With aquaponics, once you get the system balanced, it sort of runs on autopilot.”
The tilapia provide fertilizer for the growing plants, which filter the water the fish live in.
Tyler worked with Nelson and Pade Inc., an aquaponics company that has been in business since 1985.
The company’s standard operating procedures and data helped the Tylers to secure an FSA loan to build what was the first commercial aquaponics greenhouse in Oklahoma. Staff from Nelson and Pade helped develop the automated setup, and Tyler attended the company’s Aquaponics Master Class®.
He also carefully researched greenhouses and has been pleased with Conley’s Greenhouse Mfg. out of California.
“It’s real efficient and allows us to keep the temperature at 78 degrees for $600 to $650/month,” he says.
The Tylers sell produce and tilapia wholesale and to consumers. They donate 30 percent of the food to the food pantry and started a cooperative with small farmers. There has also been interest from people who want to set up their own commercial aquaponics operation and Tyler offers a 2-hr. tour with business planning information for $75.
“It’s the best mom-and-pop business we have found. It’s not backbreaking and is a lifestyle we enjoy. We can make a decent living and help build a community of healthy food,” he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Richard Tyler, NOAH Farm, 451702 Hwy. 100, Vian, Okla. 74962 (ph 918 773-8389; www.noahfarmok.com; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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