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Fish farm tour June 15

Freshwater Farms of Ohio, the state’s largest indoor fish hatchery, will host a free public tour June 15 as part of the 2011 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

Freshwater Farms raises up to 100,000 pounds of fish a year, including such species as rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, bluegill and channel catfish, though may be best known for its sturgeon “petting pool” and annual Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival.

“Freshwater Farms is a unique business. They’re very diversified and support four generations of family members,” said one of the tour’s organizers, Laura Tiu, an aquaculture specialist with Ohio State University.

“They not only produce fish but they process and market their product in on-site facilities. They’ve developed several innovative value-added products using their fish. They also conduct quite a bit of business stocking recreational ponds and supplying equipment to the industry,” Tiu said.

“It’s that type of diversification that makes many small farm operations viable.”

Organizers say the Sustainable Farm Tour series is a chance “to see, taste, feel and learn what alternative production systems are all about from the real experts — the farmers themselves.” Organic and ecological farms are the focus.

Just this year, Freshwater Farms received Wittenberg University’s Entrepreneurial Business Award for being a leader in sustainable aquaculture.

“(Freshwater Farms has) always strived for sustainability in all of their operations. They were a pioneer in developing and advancing a plant-based fish food that would reduce the need for wild-caught fish in aquaculture diets,” Tiu said.

“Also, by raising, processing and marketing all of their product locally, they certainly reduce the ‘food miles’ attributed to their product,” she said.

The tour goes from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the farm at 2624 U.S. 68 N, about one mile north of Urbana in west-central Ohio.

The tour is “an opportunity to visit a working fish farm, to see what systems they’re using and what they’re growing, and to learn directly from the owner,” Tiu said.

For more information, call 937-652-3701 or e-mail drdave@fwfarms.com.

Six organizations, including Ohio State’s Sustainable Agriculture Team, are presenting the Sustainable Farm Tour series.

Get complete details and a list of all 36 tours in the series at http://go.osu.edu/DR3.

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