US (VT): Bakersfield aquaponics grower grapples with technical and market hurdles

In July 2019, Holly Counter Beaver fell in love. She discovered the object of her affection online and began dreaming about a new life direction.

The tech industry veteran, then living in Evergreen, Colo., recounted how she'd distract herself from the tedium of long video meetings by gazing at photos of her crush in another browser window.

But Beaver, now 55, wasn't scoping out potential mates on a dating app; she's been happily married for 26 years. It was a business broker site where she found her Shangri-la in the form of a 209-acre Vermont "eco-farm" for sale.

"I saw it and literally fell in love," Beaver said. "It was my happy place."

She lobbied her husband with an 85-slide presentation. In October 2019, the couple bought the property, which includes land in Bakersfield and Enosburg. For $1.5 million, they purchased a five-bedroom house where they now live with Beaver's sister (and her sole employee), along with hayfields, woodlands, a small orchard and vineyard, and a 6,000-square-foot glass greenhouse/insulated fish house. That structure was home to a then 5-year-old aquaponics farm founded by Shawn and Liz Robinson called Finn & Roots, which promised "fish and greens grown in harmony."


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