Our Spring Garden

Hooray! This week, the weather finally warmed up, and we moved our newly sprouted baby plants into their raised garden beds at our Growing Local NOLA community food and farm center in New Orleans, Louisiana! We’ll be using our new beds to teach gardening and farming classes.

We decided to plant various herbs – rosemary, curly leaf parsley, Thai basil and Italian basil, along with some fun veggies – patty pan squash, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, and blue lake bush beans and marigolds to help with unwanted pests.

Come visit our garden and watch us grow!

Growing at Growing Local


WOW! What an amazing Saturday we had. It was a mostly sunny, slightly cloudy, warm and breezy day in New Orleans, just perfect for us to host our very first event at our new Growing Local NOLA food and farm center site!

We held a “planting your spring garden” workshop. It was focused on peppers, tomatoes, starting seeds and transplanting – and an added bonus discussion on raising chickens for eggs – complete with cute, fluffy baby chicks (awwww). We had over 30 participants for our 2-hour class.

In preparation for the workshop, we finished construction of our raised garden beds and set them up with layers of composted wood chips for drainage and good soil for growing – yes we here at Recirculating Farms work with traditional soil-based growing too! Of course we did a recirculating hydroponics demonstration as well, to provide alternate growing options for small spaces, or rocky or paved areas, (or those just interested in soil-less farming).We’ll be hosting programs regularly going forward – join our mailing list to get events announcements and sign up for our various classes – or better yet, become a member and support all our cool programs and projects!

Many thanks to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation for the funding and support through their Challenge Grant to make these programs possible (and free).


Growing Local Site Cleanup!


Wow – today was amazing! We had 28 people come out on a beautiful Saturday morning in New Orleans, Louisiana to help us clean up the future site of our food and farm center, Growing Local NOLA. Working with New Orleans Food and Farm Network and NOLA Trash mob – we collected 14 bags of trash, 8 bags of recycling, 11 tires and a wide array of very unique objects – pulled from dirt piles and around the lot.

Our contest for most interesting item was won with an almost entirely intact clarinet – each of the 3 pieces  were found separately!

Runners up included a “treasure box”, a whisk, 2 matching boots, remnants of an electric beater, a carpet, a pedicure set, and a 1979 Zulu doubloon (for those of you unfamiliar with Mardi Gras terminology – this is a colorful wooden or metal coin each “Krewe” makes to commemorate their annual participation in Carnival).

Winner of the largest piece of trash went to Jordan Bantuelle of the Urban Farmstead – he found a giant (and we mean GIANT) realtor sign. Debra Surtain, master gardener, also won a prize for helping to recruit the most people for the event.

We had an abundance of healthy snacks to fuel our cleanup team – fresh fruits, granola bars and yogurt, along with plenty of beverages to keep everyone hydrated – all natural orange and apple juices and LOTS of cold water.

Many thanks to everyone who participated – we are so grateful for your support!


2014 Farm Bill

Both the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress have now passed the same version of the Agriculture Act of 2014, the reauthorization of the law commonly known as the Farm Bill. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation, making it law soon. The new Farm Bill comes with changes not just for farmers, but also for children, low-income communities and many others nationwide on food access and quality.

While the Bill includes some important provisions, after a more than 2-year wait for its finalization, it is not what it could or should be. Among its weaknesses is the failure to formally recognize recirculating farming as an expanding part of U.S. agriculture. Farmers who use recirculating hydroponic, aquaculture and aquaponic methods for growing are building an innovative, eco-friendly industry to supplement other sustainable growing practices and transition our country from factory farming, back to a local food based system.

The Recirculating Farms Coalition is greatly disappointed that Congress missed this easy opportunity to acknowledge recirculating farming as a notable and meaningful contribution to U.S. agriculture and our food systems. We hope that President Obama will revisit this and other critical issues before the end of his final term in office, and show a type of forward-thinking leadership that is necessary for the U.S.

Read more about the 2014 Farm Bill.

World Largest Salmon Farming Co on NYSE

The world’s biggest salmon farmer, Marine Harvest, will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, joining other companies that raise animals for food, like Tyson and Sanderson Farms. The company says the move is designed to help them attract more interest in aquaculture. “We want to grow even faster,” Marine Harvest Chief Executive Alf-Helge Aarskog said.

Norway’s fish-farming industry has seen rapid growth over the past 40 years, becoming the second-largest fish exporter after China as of the beginning of this decade. However, the company has seen many challenges – diseases, fish escapes, concerns with pollution – all problems associated with open water fish farming.

Interestingly, the Norway company’s news follows close behind an announcement from a new Canadian fish farm leading the way for the country to transition from open water salmon farming, toward land-based recirculating aquaculture because it is more sustainable.

Globally, open water aquaculture has been the subject of heated debate, including in the United States. Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico in particular have seen battles over permits being considered under questionable legal circumstances (there is no regulatory regime in place in federal waters to allow fish farming). U.S. Congress had several bills introduced over time to set up a permitting structure for ocean aquaculture, but none of them made it out of committee, largely due to the strong public opposition from diverse interests.

The most current issue is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the government agency tasked with oceans management) is poised to approve regulations that for the first time would allow commercial ocean aquaculture permits to be issued in federal waters. People in the Gulf, still recovering from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion and following massive oil spill, are understandably nervous about this. The idea of giant floating pens filled with fish eating, excreting and growing out in an already weakened and fragile Gulf where violent storms are not uncommon, seems unwise. It is easy to envision the waste, excess feed and the fish themselves, along with their structures strewn throughout the Gulf following even a mild hurricane. Commercial and recreational fishing groups, conservation and consumer organizations among others have all lodged their displeasure. Some plan to challenge the regulations when they are announced.

Learn more about open water aquaculture here.