Fish farm seminar offers organic education

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo AquaRanch president Myles Marston, left, explains to seminar attendees Wednesday the benefits of A.B.C.’s Plus, a nutritional supplement for horses.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The principal owner of AquaRanch Industries said there’s more to the fish farm coming to Clovis than just fish.

Besides raising more than 300,000 tilapia a year, the company plans to market several organic byproducts from the fish farm, including vegetables, herbs, fertilizers and animal supplements.

Garth Waston spoke Wednesday at a seminar on organic food held at the Clovis Civic Center.

Watson said the company plans to grow “Every produce that’s grown in New Mexico.”

But more than just telling people about organic foods, AquaRanch served about 130 people a lunch of organically grown fish. The company also served salad and dressing made with organic vegetables.

“The fish was delicious, the salad was delicious and the people were delightful, they answered all the questions we had,” said Denise Wiley of Clovis, an organic farmer with Good Shepherd Farm.

“We’re glad they’re here to educate people more on organics.”

The company has already started converting the Frozfruit plant in south Clovis, which will hold two dozen 30,000 gallon tanks to grow the fish.

A deli and market near the fish farm will be built to offer a sample of their products, according to Watson, who said he is moving to Clovis in January.

He said the company will work with Helfter Feed to produce and sell custom-made animal feed with organic ingredients.

“We are looking forward to using some of their byproducts and maybe some of their animal supplements, too,” said Wiley’s husband, Don.

Watson said the company, which owns another organic fish farm in Illinois, is waiting for state game and fish permits for its Clovis farm. The company is expected to employ 150 in its first year and as many as 500 in five years, according to company officials.

He said the fish and the produce will be grown via a closed looped aquaponic and aquaculture system.

He told county commissioners during an August meeting that the fish farm would charge its system with 720,000 gallons of water once and then recycle the water.

“We need to have more businesses that use what we have and continue to recycle what we have,” said Affordable Pest Control owner Robert Rosales, who is looking to get a pest control contract with the fish farm. “Otherwise, we won’t have any resources left for our kids and grandkids.”