Springworks Farm, an aquaponic company based in Maine, has announced a $22M equity and debt funding round that will help the company expand its operations by 120,000 square feet and create about 40 new jobs in the state, as reported by Food Bev media. Blue Highway Capital, a private equity firm based in Philadelphia and certified by the United States Department of Agriculture, led the funding round that has seen participation from Farm Credit East and the Finance Authority of Maine.
The company was founded by then-19-year-old Trevor Kenkel and grew to become one of the largest aquaponic greenhouse operators in the east producing over 1 million heads of organic lettuce annually. In addition to the lettuce heads, the company has over 60,000 pounds of tilapia annually and then distributes it to nearby stores, including Hannaford, Whole Foods Market, and Roche Bros. Supermarkets. Per the company’s statement, the funding marks phase one of its plans to build 500,000 square feet of the greenhouse over the next six years, producing around 5 million heads of lettuce and 315,000 lbs of tilapia.
What is Aquaponic?
Aquaponics is considered a sustainable and efficient method of farming that combines raising fish (aquaculture) with growing plants (hydroponics) in a closed system. The waste produced by the fish provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants help purify the fish’s water. This symbiotic relationship allows for the efficient use of resources and can produce fish and vegetables in a small area with less water and fertilizer than traditional methods.
Aquaponics systems can be set up in various settings, from small backyard systems to large commercial operations. They can also be used to grow various plants and fish species. The most commonly grown fish in aquaponics systems are tilapia, catfish, and trout, while the most commonly grown plants are leafy greens like lettuce, herbs, and kale.
Image provided by Springworks Farm