Oct 23, 2018
Michigan aquaponics farm grows several varieties of lettuce

Revolution Farms, a recently launched aquaponics farm based in Gaines Township near Caledonia, Michigan, harvested its first salad greens earlier this month and is now selling them at 16 SpartanNash stores across Michigan.

“We’ll really be the only local option,” said Tripp Frey, a Grand Rapids native who founded the company after spending nearly a decade in Hood River, Oregon, running a small, outdoor apparel company. “Ninety percent of the lettuce that we eat from the grocery store comes from California.”

According to a story published by mlive.com, The company boasts a unique production method.

Its plants grow on small, styrofoam rafts that float atop pools of water infused with nitrogen and other nutrients. Those nutrients are derived from waste produced by 15,000 to 20,000 Tilapia fish raised on-site in roughly two dozen large tanks. Bacteria compost that waste into nutrient-dense fertilizer.

“We’re trying to recreate nature,” said Frey, 38. “We’re trying to create the most natural fertilizers in a controlled environment.”

The end product is several types of lettuce – sweet crisp, butter lettuce, red and green oak, and romaine. It’s packaged in 4 oz. containers and sold at a suggested retail price of $3.49, though prices may differ from store to store.

The company expects to harvest about 350,000 pounds of the product each year at its 50,000-square-foot glass greenhouse at 76th Street in Caledonia.

Frey says his product stands out, particularly for environmentally conscious shoppers. He touts the fact that his lettuce is pesticide free, and says it requires 80 percent less water, 90 percent less land and travels 95 percent fewer miles than traditionally grown lettuce.

“All those things are what put me over the top to spend energy to do it,” said Frey, whose company has between 12 and 15 full-time employees.

It cost about $3.3 million to launch Revolution Farms. The company received a $50,000 performance grant from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to help fund the construction of its Venlo style glass greenhouse and an accompanying 35,000-square-foot warehouse.

For more on the mlive.com story, visit here.

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