Thursday, September 5, 2013

Field Trip: Central Greens

Yesterday, we took a trip to Central Greens, Milwaukee's newest aquaponics venture focused on the innovative fish-as-fertilizers model.  Central Greens, located near Miller Park, is a family-run business located on a once-run down site in the Story Hill neighborhood of Milwaukee's west side.


Although Central Green's main focus is fresh salad greens and herbs, fish like tilapia play a major role in their business model. Simply stated, water is circulated through large fish tanks where it picks up nutrients from the fish waste and is then circulated through a hydroponic greenhouse full of lettuce, basil, and other greens and herbs.

This not-too-large 'fish house' stays nice and warm thanks to the large tanks of heated water

Inside the fish tank: a tube system helps to circulate the water
The powerhouse of the system: tilapia

Emma showing CORE/El Centro interns how the water is filtered before it heads out to 'feed' the plants.


While Central Greens is able to sell a number of tilapia to restaurants for additional revenue, the greens are where they really see their 'green.'

Coir (coconut husk) forms the base for some seed starting trays

Small plants on their way to the hydroponic green house

Central Greens created small 'rafts' for their seedlings to float on.
They push the older plants up stream while loading on new arrivals.

An alternative form of seedling tray - instead of individual pods, all plants are on one large flat

Rows of fresh, nutritious greens getting ready to join someone's kitchen counter. Notice the height of plants at the end - once they reach the end of the greenhouse they are ready to be harvested. Brilliant! 

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