The Farmory is housed in a former armory at 815 Chicago St. in Green Bay. For decades after the building opened near the end of World War I until the 1960s the armory served as a training site and weapons depot for the 32ndRed Arrow Division of the National Guard – hardly the place, it would seem, for a centerpiece to the area’s agriculture-sustainability movement.
After sitting vacantfor nearly 40 years, the armory has become home to a nonprofit group that is a self-sustaining, year-round indoor agriculture center. The Farmory is partnering with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, The Medical College of Wisconsin at St. Norbert College in De Pere, E-Hub’s Urban Hope Entrepreneur Center, NeighborWorks Green Bay, Forward Service Corporation, the Volunteer Center of Brown County and Wello.
Aquaculture, also known as “fish farming,” helps meet the world’s demand for food, sport, and bait fish. In the United States, aquaculture is also an important part of fostering the domestic supply of seafood and reducing the trade gap between imported and exported seafood. This matters because approximately 90% of the seafood Americans consume is imported from other countries.
The aquaculture industry is still relatively small in Wisconsin, and there is much potential for growth. To help Wisconsin fish farmers expand their businesses and capitalize on the trend for local food while also being responsive to consumer concerns, we surveyed fish farmers to learn more about the Wisconsin aquaculture industry and how to help grow and maintain fish farm businesses in the state. This report describes those results and identifies areas where the industry could be better supported.
A non-profit is paving the way for local fish farming families to once again harvest perch in our state.
The decline of the wild fish population started in the 1980’s and has not rebounded. Almost 100% of the perch on your plate at the local supper club is imported from Canada.
Now, a few tanks in an old military building could be the key to a new industry.
The Farmory has successfully hatched yellow perch in the first commercial, bio-secure, yellow perch fish hatchery in the state of Wisconsin.
By just the second year of operations, the hatchery will produce 500,000 yellow perch fingerlings per year. These fingerlings will be sold to aquaculture or aquaponics farms in our region with the aim of rebuilding perch stock across the region.
Want to eat salmon, trout, and tilapia from fish farmers and fishing boats? Wisconsinites have more options.
When it comes to the food on our table, it’s easier than ever to make a connection to where it comes from in Wisconsin. That’s surprisingly true even when it comes to seafood.
Of course, there are plenty of sports fishermen here eating what they catch in our lakes, rivers and streams. But for those of us who may not fish, or for the times when you can’t, there are still plenty of accessible, and sustainable, options.
Good fish starts at the source, and here in Wisconsin, we’re at the forefront when it comes to sustainability, sourcing and fish.
Northern Wisconsin happens to be home to the nation’s largest aquaponics facility, Superior Fresh, where it is raising both Atlantic and steelhead salmon along with greens.
Numerous organizations, sponsors, and donors have helped us grow into what The Farmory is today! Today we want to give special shout-outs to three very important partnerships: UW-Green Bay and specifically the UW-Green Bay College of Science, Engineering, and Technology , WiSys and Woods and Waters Fish Farm. Without these partnerships, The Farmory would not be possible.
UWGB for their partnership in opening Wisconsin’s first research-based, full-scale year-round commercial fish hatchery. We couldn’t have accomplished all that we have without you!
WiSys granted The Farmory funding for our post-doctoral research associate, Dr. Ken Webb. Thank you to Dr. Webb and the funding from WiSys for helping us hatch and raise our yellow perch!
Woods & Waters Fish Farm provided us the egg skeins necessary to hatch our yellow perch. Thank you, Woods & Waters Fish Farm, for your donation that helped us kick-start our yellow perch fish hatchery!
Thank you to these three partnerships; we are excited to continue our relationships in the future!
The family fish fry. Consisting of a piece of fried white fish, usually perch, a slice of bread and perhaps a slab of raw onion, fish fry is way more than a meal. It’s a uniquely Northeast Wisconsin experience. Yet we bet you didn’t realize that almost 100% of the perch on your plate at the local supper club is imported from Canada! The Farmory is on a mission to change the tides by rebuilding the fish population of NE Wisconsin.
Host Amanda Sharon talks with Claire Thompson, Executive Director of the Farmory in Green Bay and Ken Webb Associate Researcher at UWGB. They outline what The Farmory in Green Bay does, talk about hydroponics and outline the process of aquaponics. Ken Webb also discusses the difficulty of raising perch in a contained environment and how The Farmory plans to go about it. The Farmory will also be teaching area farmers how to raise perch to sell to restaurants and grocery stores. Hear the interview here: 91.1 The Avenue
Perch — it’s a mainstay of the Friday night fish fry in northeast Wisconsin, especially during Lent.
But who knew that the perch could also provide a leg up to people striving to work their way out of poverty.
Eric Weydt, Catholic Social Justice coordinator with the Diocese of Green Bay, had a hunch and he was right. It was Weydt who encouraged a community endeavor called The Farmory, located at 815 Chicago St. in Green Bay, to apply for a Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grant. As a result, The Farmory applied for and received grants over the past three years totaling $145,000 from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ anti-poverty campaign.
We are so grateful for all of your support! You helped us reach our ambitious goal of raising at least $30,000 for the Giving Tuesday campaign!
We would also like to thank Bernie and Alyce Dahlin for their generous challenge matching gift! Checks are still coming in, and we will let you know the total funds raised for this campaign very soon. What an incredible impact in just one day!
Thanks to your donations, we will be able to Clad the Farmory and double the number of education and training experiences offered next year!
Wisconsin aquaculture is languishing, said Ken Webb, a research associate at UW-Green Bay.
“There are some pilot farms, some small farms here and there,” he said. “But when you think of catfish farms down in the Mississippi delta, you think of hundreds and thousands of acres of fish. Well, we don’t have that here.”
That soon could change, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.
Armed with years of experience and a desire to succeed, Webb moved to Wisconsin from Texas last spring for the opportunity to work at UW-Green Bay and help build The Farmory. The goal is to create the state’s first commercial yellow perch hatchery in an intensive culture system.
Researchers in Green Bay hope to reduce the cost of Wisconsin’s traditional Friday night fish fry by working with The Farmory — a local nonprofit based in downtown Green Bay — to set up breeding tanks for the popular yellow perch, which is becoming hard to find in the wild.
Ken Webb, a research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, is taking on the difficult task of setting up the tanks for The Farmory. He said yellow perch are hard to raise in captivity. Many fish farms raise perch in outdoor ponds, but Webb said most larvae die within 30 days whether from predation or disease.
Instead of outdoor ponds, these yellow perch will be bred and raised indoors in tanks that look like hot tubs.
It’s no joke that here in Wisconsin we see some harsh winters. The climate calls for below zero temperatures, blizzards; and even snowfall and freezing temperatures into April. Because of that, some farmers in Green Bay have taken to a different style of farming: Aquaponics.
Not a new idea, aquaponics is a style of farming that has been around for many years. With our useable farmland dwindling, in combination with Wisconsin’s harsh winters, more people are looking towards aquaponics for an extended growing season.
Aquaponics is the cultivation of fish and plants together in a constructed, recirculating ecosystem utilizing natural bacterial cycles to convert fish waste to plant nutrients. It is an environmentally friendly, natural food-growing method that harnesses the best attributes of aquaculture and hydroponics without the need to discard any water or filtrate or add chemical fertilizers.
Green Bay, Wis. — In a unique partnership with biologists from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s College of Science, Engineering, and Technology, The Farmory plans to open Wisconsin’s first research-based, full-scale year-round commercial fish hatchery this winter.
The first of its kind in the state, the partnership combines UW-Green Bay’s faculty and student expertise, along with The Farmory’s innovative indoor vertical aquaponics system and large hatchery space. Fresh, locally-grown perch will once again be available to area restaurants and provide opportunities for local commercial fish entrepreneurs.
Farmory & UWGB Associate Researcher, ‘Fish Guy’ Ken Webb is interviewed by WBAY and describes the development of our full-scale, year-round, commercial fish hatchery.
We are happy to welcome both Ryan and Allison Hellenbrand to The Farmory team! They are both AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers completing their national service year with us. Ryan is assigned full time to The Farmory and Allison is splitting her time between Farmory and Neighborworks Green Bay.
Ryan will be working on developing the Farmory’s operational procedures as the Phase 2 buildout progresses, as well as playing a role in the coordination of educational events and curriculum integration with local schools. Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-544-0789.
Allison serves as a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA member with NeighborWorks Green Bay and The Farmory. She helps both agencies by increasing their volunteer capacity through strategic partnership and engagement within Green Bay and the surrounding communities.
Allison can be reached at email@example.com or 920-593-3714.
And in case you were wondering, yes, they are married! We are so fortunate to host these amazing volunteers. Please stop in or call and say hello!
It’s always exciting to learn how innovative and creative the Greater Green Bay community is, even if it isn’t aware it’s happening.
Case in point, our community is making the availability of fresh, local produce year-round a priority. We see it by the turnout at our farmers markets. We see it in our grade schools, high schools and higher education institutions. What may be most exciting is how our community doesn’t let the harsh winters of northeastern Wisconsin stop fresh produce from ending up in a meal even when gardens are covered in snow and bitter cold temperatures keep us in our homes.
It’s inside these same places that keep us warm that we have successful indoor gardening efforts taking place throughout Greater Green Bay, especially in our schools.
WEST DE PERE, Wis. – “I think it’s going to be hundreds, we take kids in our culinary program introduction to food programs, ag science courses biology other advance horticulture type classes landscape courses so all those kids are going to be a part of this experience,” said Russell Gerke – Principal at W. De Pere High School
The Farmory in downtown Green Bay is a “farm with a social mission,” in the words of Program Director, Alex Smith. The historic armory turned “farmory” is being used to demonstrate to the community how the centuries old practice of farming can address the growing problem of food security in many of today’s urban areas. Unknown to many, downtown Green Bay is in the heart of a “food desert” — a designation given to areas where residents are anywhere from a half-mile to a mile away from a grocery store that stocks fresh produce. Through the collaborative work and knowledge of food professionals — community organizations and UW-Green Bay experts — water, food and more are making a return to the desert. Read more on page 23.
Food for Thought
Student researchers are playing key roles in one grad’s creative effort to provide urban residents with improved access to healthy food
At first glance, Green Bay would seem to be immune from the sort of healthy food-access issues more commonly found in bigger cities. Major grocery retailers are plentiful around the perimeter of the city, but therein lies the challenge: Residents of inner-city neighborhoods exist in what has become a food desert, where unhealthy, processed foods are often the only available choices.
Farmory sells mixed greens to Cannery
Adrienne Winter, Cannery general manager, said the partnership helps fill a notorious gap in the supply of produce during Wisconsin’s cold winter months.
The Farmory is still one year away from its grand opening but Thursday night, it opened its doors to give the public a peek at what’s happening inside.
The open house included an update about the project, which aims to bring sustainable indoor agriculture to Green Bay.
Urban farming is often viewed primarily as a food production solution, but the benefits of urban farming are much larger than that.
As an example, commercial urban farming projects are correlated with higher property values within a mile radius, and neighborhoods with these same urban farming projects are more likely to be socioeconomically diverse.
The concept is to create an indoor farm system.
Some food will be grown by using hydroponics, which is growing plants in water, without soil.
Officials say many people get the credit for helping to reach this point.
The United States Conference of Mayors has awarded a $50,000 grant to NeighborWorks Green Bay to a stalled project to convert an aging building into an urban, indoor farm.