A Butte County couple is putting fish to work in a new aquaponic greenhouse, growing fresh, locally-grown lettuce that now lines Northern Hills grocery shelves. He is a Black Hills and Wyoming native, she’s from northeast Iowa, and together, Chris and Alexa Garro, owners of Garro Farms, have mastered the art of mimicking a natural ecosystem that combines traditional aquaculture with hydroculture in the ultimate symbiotic system.
Garro Farms, located approximately 18 miles northeast of Belle Fourche on Arpan Road, is home to the 2,400 square-foot commercial-scale greenhouse. Chris, utilizing second-hand materials, built the greenhouse with the ultimate goal — to supply fresh produce to the Northern Hills and Wyoming areas all year long. “It took some imagination to get it to this,” Chris said. “And I hope other people follow suit, too.”
It just so happens that the work fish naturally do, eating and producing waste, is the perfect fertilizer for growing plants. And boy, do those fish grow a lot of plants when they get to work. Alexa told the Black Hills Pioneer it represents the relationship between water, aquatic life, bacteria, nutrient dynamics, and plants that grow together in waterways all over the world. Taking cues from nature, aquaponics harnesses the power of bio-integrating those individual components — exchanging the waste byproduct from the fish as a food for the bacteria, to be converted into a perfect fertilizer for the plants, and return the water in a clean and safe form to the fish — just like mother nature does in every aquatic ecosystem.
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