Jeff and Tammy Coulon started aquaponic farming as a test – just for produce for the family dinner table at their farm near Ainsworth, Nebraska.
It proved so successful it turned out to be key to enabling their return to their childhood homes in Montezuma County.
Based on the success of their small, family aquaponic system, they decided to open Organic Family Farms just south of Cortez.
The farm has begun its inaugural season growing organic produce for individuals and for restaurants from Pagosa Springs to Moab.
Some 1,200 blue channel catfish kept in several large tanks produce the nutrient-rich water to feed two 60-foot by 100-foot greenhouses filled with tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, peppers, onions, basil spinach, lettuce, arugla, kale and other vegetables and greens.
“We’re trying to gauge demand by talking to restaurants,” Tammy Coulon said while tending to spinach. “We’re so new at this, we don’t know if we’ll sell more to individuals or to restaurants.”
Rustin Newton, chef-owner of Mutu’s Italian Kitchen in Durango, said the availability of organic, locally grown produce has him interested in tomatoes, basil and other produce from Organic Family Farms.