It looks like any nondescript industrial park warehouse, but the new Deepwater Farms facility in southeast Calgary produces fresh, local food daily using technology that some believe could be the future of agriculture.
This urban farm, located in a 10,000-square-foot building, is the city’s first commercial-scale aquaponics facility — meaning it combines hydroponics and aquaculture to raise both leafy greens and fish. Giant tanks house as many as 10,000 fish of varying ages and sizes (currently, Deepwater is raising sea bass), and the waste from the fish is then broken down into nitrates that are used to fertilize the racks upon racks of lettuce, herbs and other greens growing under giant LED lights.
The unconventional technology has given Deepwater the capacity to harvest about 450 kilograms a week of organic, locally grown produce. The company expects to triple that output once it is fully ramped up in late 2019. It can also harvest about 900 kilograms of fish a month — fresh, sustainable seafood that can go straight to the plates of landlocked Calgarians.
“I literally just stumbled across the concept of aquaponics one day on the internet,” said company founder Paul Shumlich. “It was the closed-loop aspect that really spoke to me, because we could take a waste product and turn it into a valuable input in another process. It was a symbiotic system between the fish and the plants, and it was organic.”