Baker couple growing in their Next Generation Farming aquaponics farm

Next Generation Farming aquaponics farm in Baker, Florida
Max and Rachael Lyons provide fresh, organic produce to local restaurants and retailers through their Next Generation Farming aquaponics farm in Baker. The couple moved to their property in Baker a few years ago. Starting off with growing lettuce, they opened Next Generation Farming in December 2019. “Essentially, we learned an entirely new trade,” Rachael said.

“There’s nothing manmade that’s introduced into this system other than the fish food that I feed the fish,” Max told a group of home-schooled children who recently toured the farm. “Aquaponics is using fish to produce the ammonia that is used to grow the plants,” Max told. “In hydroponics, you’re using manmade chemicals that the plants are actually sitting in."

Rainwater is harvested to help provide about 250 gallons of water per week for the overall 10,000-gallon aquaponics system. Besides the lettuce, kale, collards, and cabbage they sell, the Lyonses grow strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons, and other produce that currently are just for the family’s use.

“This is definitely a blessing that we’re able to share this knowledge with people,” Max said. Rachael said aquaponics is huge on the West Coast and is an ancient tradition in Asia. The closest commercial aquaponic operation to the Lyonses is near Jacksonville, she said.

At Next Generation Farming’s online farmers market, customers can order greens and eggs for pickup at the farm. Rachael said she and Max hope to later partner with other local farmers and offer additional items, such as beef and honey. “I like to buy local and support local,” Rachael said.

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