Silver Bay, MN
Just before the flood in June I went to the Victus Farm in Silver Bay. It was still mostly under construction at the time, but now things are beginning to look green. Turns out the flood helped jump-start the farm.
Mike Mageau, the Director of Sustainable Community Developmenty said, "We captured about 40 thousand gallons of water and we used that water to start up the entire system."
UMD Researcher David Abazs told me"So we are in the process of scaling up so every week we add another 600 plants, and then in about 3 weeks we'll start harvesting."
The plants seem to be thriving in their new home. But that isn't the only thing growing in the green house. This tank may look like it hasn't been maintained, but it actually houses another crop for the farm, algae.
Mageau said, "One of the things we will be doing with our algae is feeding our fish. And so we are looking for this optimal balance of what species of algae gives us a yield of oil, plus serves as a good food for our fish."
The oils yielded from the algae will hopefully be used to create bio-diesel, and fish food. Why do they need fish food at the farm? Fish is yet another crop the farm is producing. Eventually these little guys will become big enough to supply local food vendors with a fresh, and sustainable, catch.
"We got a mixed batch of tilapia in here. There's 5 different strains, there's blue, 2 different types of Nile, also this Hawaiian Gold and one other breed. And we are going to cross breed those and create different hybrids." Said UMD Researcher Baylor Radtke.
The goal is to breed a fish that is more tolerant to cold water, therefore reducing the energy needed to heat the water. In just a matter of months the farm hopes to have its first batch of fish.
"They'll reach full growth, about 2 pounds, in 9 months, where a perch or walleye takes 3 years." Said Radtke.
The farm is still working with local food vendors to find the best way to distribute this sustainable sustenance. But we will keep you updated on where and when you can purchase a plate of sustainable tilapia.
Meteorologist Adam Lorch