According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, there are more than 2,300 registered fish farms in Wisconsin. The state's aquaculture industry contributes $21 million to the economy annually.
Fish farms in the state use a variety of systems to raise more than 25 different species of fish for food, stocking, bait and recreation.
Wisconsin farm-raised fish can be purchased directly from the farm, from supermarkets or at restaurants.
The Wisconsin Aquaculture Association will celebrate Aquaculture Day on Saturday, July 16, with a Fish Farm Day Open House to allow consumers to visit participating farms and facilities to learn more.
One Wisconsin farm participating in the open house on July 16 is KP Simply Fresh near North Freedom in Sauk County. KP Simply Fresh is owned and operated by Christopher Meunier. He started the business with help from his parents, Donna and Norbert, and his uncle, John Rengstorf , just over two years ago.
Christopher harvests 14,000 tilapia fish each year.
"Out of a two-pound fish, you get about a pound of fillets," Christopher explains.
It takes the Meuniers just over a year to grow the tilapia in their greenhouse from about an inch long to two pounds. But the fish are really a byproduct of their aquaponics operation. The manure from the fish nourishes the lettuce raised in water from the fish in their greenhouse.
"We grow about 150,000 heads of lettuce annually," Christopher explains. "It takes about six weeks to grow a head of lettuce from a seed."
During the school year, Christopher sells 700 heads of lettuce per week to the Reedsburg and Sauk school districts. They provide lettuce weekly to two hospitals and six nursing homes. They also sell lettuce and frozen tilapia fillets at four area farmer's markets.
"It's sustainable agriculture," Christopher says. "Why should we import lettuce from Peru when we can grow it in Wisconsin?"
Visitors will be allowed to tour the facilities at KP Simply Fresh for free on July 16.
"Normally, we charge $5 for a guided tour, but at the open house, we will welcome visitors for free," Christopher says.
For hours and to get directions to their farm, check out their website at KPSimplyFresh.com or call Christopher at 608-522-5001.
Have you ever wondered how fish are raised in Wisconsin or the health benefits of eating farm-raised fish? The answers to these questions and more are now available online in A Consumer's Guide for Wisconsin Farm-Raised Fish.
The consumer's guide is an overview of Wisconsin's aquaculture industry. The guide offers resources to consumers to make informed choices on buying locally-grown fish and provides additional references including articles, websites, and studies to supply more information.
Some topics discussed in the consumer's guide include:
*Basics of aquaculture management in Wisconsin
*Nutritional benefits of eating Wisconsin farm-raised fish
*Advantages of eating local fish from Wisconsin
*Where to purchase farm-raised fish for your family
This guide was developed by the: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, WAA, University of Wisconsin-Stevens-Point Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility, and UW-Extension Aquaculture Outreach.
To access the consumer's guide, visit www.wisconsinaquaculture.com/Forms/Complete_Guide.pdf. For more information on Wisconsin aquaculture, contact Mike Bandli of DATCP at 608-224-5136.