US (TX): Gunni Gal’s Van Zandt brings aquaponic farming to valley

Alex Van Zandt's dream to bring aquaponic farming to the valley has become a reality. Aquaponics is a farming technology that uses fish waste to grow beneficial bacteria and plants. 

Customers at Van Zandt's start-up, Gunni Gal, now include Mario's Pizza and Pasta, The Dive, Camp Gunnison, and her neighborhood community-supported agriculture (CSA). Tuesdays and most Fridays, Van Zandt delivers to Gunnison Vitamin and Health Food Store and Organic Wilder's Market. The Gunni Gal product — for now, mostly leafy greens — sells out fast, however.

"The product typically sells out in 24 hours," Van Zandt said. "I would really like to broaden my CSA customers. It's free delivery for people in my neighborhood, but I would like to branch out and extend that to other parts of Gunnison and maybe even CB South." 

The vision started seven years ago in Austin, Texas, over a cookout by the fire with her husband, Jeffrey Van Zandt, and Fred Ramirez, one of their best friends. 

"Freddie used to come over, and we would do these massive fire cookouts," she said. "We would cook with fire, and then we would spend hours dissecting Van Halen songs and all things the history of rock' n' roll." It was during one of these evenings of fire, drink, and music that Ramirez, who is in the restaurant business, told the Van Zandt's about visiting an aquaponics farm. 

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