The following story highlights Superior Fresh, an aquaponics company that employs seven UW-Stevens Point alumni, including its president, Brandon Gottsacker.
By Barry Adams
Salmon aren’t supposed to be swimming here.
The lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens also are out of place.
A 3-acre greenhouse, nearly twice the length of a football field, glows purple from its more than 1,100 LED grow lights — a sight that turns the heads of passing motorists on Interstate 94 at night. The lights, with cloud-based software, help mimic California’s Salinas Valley.
...Most aquaponics operations make little revenue from the tilapia grown in their fish houses. But salmon sales are part of Superior Fresh’s business model, offer a higher price point, are more marketable than tilapia and are being grown in relative close proximity to buyers.
“I think it’s a natural progression of the industry,” said Chris Hartleb, a professor of fisheries biology at UW-Stevens Point and co-director of the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility in Bayfield. “They went for a very high-valued fish in salmon. The challenge that Brandon is facing is that when you’re the first of a kind, there’s no one to show you the way. He’s kind of inventing both an inland Atlantic salmon culture and tying it into the growth of plants. So there’s a couple of technical hurdles he has to jump over and figure out.”