US (OR): Volcano Veggies packs 2 acres of food into 200 square feet

Two stories of green vegetables grow under lights and above round tanks of teeming fish, awaiting their turn to be harvested at Shannon and James Sbarra’s farm.

Groups of workers place starter plants into racks, and others pack the leafy greens in clear plastic boxes that will be on store shelves the same day.

This is aquaponics. Certified organic fresh veggies grow from the fertilizer created by cold-blooded fish — tilapia, gold fish and bass — who live in a climate-controlled environment all indoors, Shannon Sbarra said. The couple focuses on growing salad greens, basil and microgreens, but at some point plan on expanding to all manner of leafy greens, she said.

“Our system is extremely complicated to put everything together in a stable ecosystem like what we have,” Sbarra said. “There’s a steep learning curve. It’s been the classic entrepreneurship. But we’re focused on sustainable growth.”

She talked to The Bulletin about the business of aquaponics.

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