Updated 04/09/2012 09:18 PM
Start up business Aqua Vita could expand
Despite some tough economic conditions, an indoor farm in Sherrill is looking to expand after only one year in business. Their innovative design allows them to grow produce year-round without any dirt. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us how Aqua Vita is generating the interest they need to grow their business.
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SHERRILL, N.Y.-- A once abandoned warehouse in Sherrill is growing something green: Money.
"They used to do silverware polishing in this building- [we've] taken it, converted it into the indoor ecosystem that you see behind me," owner of Aqua Vita Farms, Mark Doherty, said during a tour Monday.
In less than a year, Aqua Vita has impacted the local produce market by controlling all of the factors that go into their food year-round.
"Optimal light, optimal nutrients, optimal temperatures and so we get optimal flavor and quality out of our product and people really enjoy it."
Now they say they're looking to expand, possibly even with another warehouse. The state's Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine toured the farm Monday because he sees their model as a way to grow more than just plants.
"The market that's out there for the produce that's made here really is much larger than their ability at this point in time to produce," Aubertine said. "So I think that's one of the main things. But also the jobs that are created."
The key to all of this job growth is actually pretty fishy.
"The basic explanation of the process is we feed the fish, the fish feed the plants and the plants clean the water," Doherty explained.
That keeps overhead costs pretty low. But most of the jobs are created outside of their farm because sales are booming and they can barely keep up.
"By square foot, we grow twice as much product as traditional agriculture and we're doing it in an ecologically responsible and sustainable way," Doherty said.
There is a growing market for food grown in green businesses. Doherty has received emails from people who drive miles just to get fresh, locally grown produce.
Aubertine believes that if the model can be replicated, it can not only create jobs, but give many communities a good use for an old abandoned building.