US (OK): Advocates claim aquaponic farming is on the rise

Oklahoma’s emerging aquaponics industry was stalled when COVID-19 closed down its primary clients, restaurants, but it is growing once again.

A commercial operation can get up and running for a minimum of $100,000, according to expert Julie Flegal-Smallwood. “That’s minus the warehouse or greenhouse. In Oklahoma, you need to be inside,” she said.

Flegal-Smallwood, who serves on the association’s board, said medical marijuana is “the hottest market now” in the state and will only increase with the likely legalization of recreational marijuana.

While Oklahoma is known for its row crops and field crops, interest in growing produce and herbs locally through aquaponics has increased as the cost of importing them from California and other places has gone up, she said.

“Restaurants dedicated to a farm-to-table concept may be interested even on the same scale,” she said. “It's a wonderful way to grow herbs at a business.” The chef can harvest them as they are needed.

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