In Greenback, Tennessee, a family farm turns a profit by saving water. Eco-Rich said its lettuce tastes better, lasts longer, and could help cities struggling to feed their people. “We can produce over a ton of lettuce a week, and lettuce doesn’t weigh much,” Eco-Rich Farm’s co-owner Jeff Dean said.
“If you get it from a farmer here locally, it hasn't spent time in a storage warehouse and hasn't been on the road trying to get here for a long time,” Dean said. The farm is an aquaponic one, and it begins with a lot of tilapia.
"The waste from the tilapia is the starting point for all of that lettuce: nothing goes to waste in aquaponics. The tilapia end up as a pretty unique side product. You can buy their filets at the Market Square Famer’s Market."
‘Closed loops’ - actual pipe loops - keep water usage limited. Dean said it uses only a fraction of lettuce grown in a field. “We lose about five percent of the water (through) leakage and evaporation, but everything else is recyclable.”
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