Meet your farmer!
Each week we give one of our market vendors a chance to talk about their particular agricultural focus and the joys and challenges of farming in Siskiyou county.
This week we're featuring a newer farmer, Shasta Mountain Aquaponics.
Aquaponics is not a new technique: the Maya and Aztecs, as well as some middle and far Eastern cultures, put into place some of the very first aquaponics systems known to date, but the name "aquaponics" itself didn't actually arrive until the 1970's. It's closed system in which fish and plants work together: plants filter the water for the fish, who provide fertilizer for the plants!
While aquaponics has been an interest of Mike's for over ten years, Shasta Mountain Aquaponics is in its second professional year. "The first year, the fish were pretty small," he says, and it takes about a year for everything to settle in. The fish are housed in a 1500 gallon tank and help produce a living ecosystem - they create a usable nitrogen source that salad greens, especially, love to grow on. Shasta Mountain's tank holds temperate fish - large-mouth bass and catfish - that can survive our climate and season changes. The bass enjoy worms, bugs, and a special bass fish feed. while the catfish, who are bottom feeders, serve as cleanup crew.
Shasta Mountain Aquaponics is currently selling fresh produce in the Shasta and Dunsmuir farmers' markets and working on setting up business accounts for the coming year. One of the benefits of aquaponics is the ability to produce greens all year long - generally every 35 days from April to October. Growth rate is still a question to determine in our area, but Mike is hoping that he can produce "a salad 10 months out of the year" and take a break in January and February.
Fresh greens, grown locally and sustainably right here in Mount Shasta? Sounds great to us! Thanks so much, Shasta Mountain Aquaponics - we're so happy to welcome you the Mount Shasta Farmer's market this year!