Aquaponic Gardener Profile – Flourish Farms
Established 2011 & Owned by JD and Tawnya Sawyer
Boot-strapped through a successful Kickstarter campaign the aquaponic food grown at Flourish Farms (run by Colorado Aquaponics) travels less than 5 miles to the customer. Even better, everything is harvested within a few hours of being eaten. Together with the non-profit organization The GrowHaus, Colorado Aquaponics works to develop economic, social and environmentally sustainable food production systems.
Q: Where is your farm located?
A: Flourish Farms is located at the GrowHaus, a community driven greenhouse in the Elyria/Swansea food desert neighborhood of Northwest Denver, Colorado.
Q: Who is involved?
A: Flourish Farms has a full time farm manager and works to create educational and internship opportunities for students of all ages, community members and veterans.
Q: What are the farm specs?
A: Flourish Farms is 3,000 sq ft of space inside of a 20,000 sq ft double-ply polycarbonate greenhouse, education center and marketplace
- Fish tanks – 2 – 500 gallon tanks, 1 – 1000 gallon tank currently growing out 4 species of tilapia from juvenile to 2 lb, hybrid striped bass, channel catfish, along with some koi, perch, bluegill and a few plecostomus fish
- Filtration – Radial flow clarifier, brush tank, degas tank
- Deep Water Culture – 1,290 sq ft growing 4 lettuce varieties – bibb, romaine, green ruffle leaf, and red oak leaf, 4 cooking greens – kale, chard, collards and mustard
- Media beds – 180 sq ft growing tomatoes, peas, edible flowers, culinary herbs, and a few fruit trees, meyer lemon, kumquat, and hibiscus
- Nursery and microgreen production – Produces 4 week crop rotation of all the seedlings for the farm, as well as microgreen flats of sweet peas, black oil sunflower, red radish, spicy asian mix, and other varieties
- NFT – two vertical systems that produce cut-and-come again herbs like basil, cilantro, chives, rosemary, stevia, as well as strawberries
- Wicking bed – demonstrates root production of carrots, beets, and onions
Q: What is your mission?
A: To prove environmental stewardship, community connection and financial feasibility through demonstration, education and innovation for aquaponic farming as an industry.
Q: Where can we follow you on social media?
A: Facebook Colorado Aquaponics, Twitter @CO_Aquaponics
Q: What inspired you to get into aquaponics?
A: I wanted to feed my family nutritious food, but then I realized there were lots of communities and lots of people that wanted the same things. That inspired us to start our farm in a food desert neighborhood in partnership with the GrowHaus as well as teach thousands of people from around the world how to do the same.
Q: What has surprised you most about aquaponics?
A: How much food can be produced in aquaponics. I am amazed every time I walk into the greenhouse (especially in the Spring when the days get longer and warmer), how abundantly the farm produces food.
Q: What are some of the current challenges?
A: Helping others get a realistic viewpoint about what aquaponics can and can’t do, so that they can be significantly more successful and satisfied with their hobby or farm venture.
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception of aquaponics is?
A: Too many people see stories on the internet and they think that aquaponic farming is going to make them rich, or that they can grow everything their family needs to eat. Starting a business can take years to get financially profitable, no matter what kind of business. And, your family probably likes to eat a lot of things that aquaponics can’t grow very well, especially if you have kids.
Q: What are your future goals?
A: Designing and installing completely off-grid systems, increasing farm profitability, inspiring and educating more people to design and build their own amazing farms all over the world.