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SweetWater Organics: Entrepreneurs Find Silver Lining in Great Lakes’ Peril

| Friday February 5th, 2010 | 5 Comments

ban-startup-friday

With Asian Carp knocking on the door and following decades of ecosystemic collapse, the Great Lakes’ once thriving fishery business is a shadow of its former glory. The Friday Night Fish Fry, a Wisconsin tradition, is now more often imported cod rather than the lake perch or other local varieties that made it famous.

Though it may take a hundred years before some kind of stability returns to the lakes (who knows, maybe the carp will become a new local delicacy), local entrepreneurs can still see an opportunity to satisfy demand and tradition while practicing restorative techniques on both economy and ecology. SweetWater Organics operates out of a massive dis-used industrial facility on the south side of Milwaukee and produces both fish and vegetables in a “three-tiered, aquaponic, bio-intensive fish-vegetable garden.” The company is the first commercial extension of Growing Power founder Will Allen’s urban farming concepts.

Here’s a quick video that will tell you more than I can write….

(More videos here).

So far the company is still considered an “experiment” in the commercial sense with about $500,000 invested between 5 investors. Eventual plans to have 100,000 fish (a combination of Tilapia and the aforementioned Perch) by mid 2010 are expected to result in a steady growth in fish and vegetable sales to local markets and directly to the public.

While the Great Lakes slowly recover, the Perch fry may live on as local and fresh as ever with the help of some systems-thinking enterprises like this one. I’m getting hungry.


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