Growing Calgary, One Leaf and One Fin at a Time

Have you ever heard of aquaponics? Until recently, we hadn't either! This week on the blog we hear from Deepwater Farms, an incredibly cool and unique local company that uses aquaponic technology to provide nutrients and protein all year, no matter the climate. To learn more about this fascinating concept, keep scrolling... 

Paul Sumlich, Co-founder and CEO and Reid Henuset, President.

Paul Shumlich, the Co-Founder and CEO of Deepwater Farms has been quietly transforming the food Calgarians eat since September 2018. That’s when his company opened the doors of their first commercial aquaponic farm in southeast Calgary. The farm now produces hundreds of pounds of fish and produce every single week, distributing them to select restaurants and retailers in Calgary, Canmore, and Banff.

If you’ve never heard of aquaponics before - don’t feel bad. The modern aquaponic farm is a relatively new concept, where fish are farmed in large, indoor tanks and their waste is filtered out of the water and upgraded through a series of natural processes. The upgraded waste is used as fertilizer for plants, which are being grown hydroponically (“without soil”) in a separate system.

A single grow bed of baby kale, floating on top of the water. August 2019.

Every aquaponic system is different. The system used at Deepwater Farms is designed to raise Australian sea bass and to grow leafy greens such as kale and arugula. The system is recirculating, meaning very little water is lost, vertical, meaning fish tanks and grow beds are positioned on top of each other, and intensive, meaning large quantities are produced every single week, all year round.

Deepwater Farms sells these products locally, to chefs like Blair Clemis at Model Milk and Quinn Staple at Hotel Arts. That was the plan in the beginning and it isn’t going to change. When it comes time to expand the business to new markets, it is the technology behind the farm that will be exported, not the food produced by the farm. The intellectual property that has been developed by the Deepwater Farms team will be licensed or franchised to build new farms in places such as diverse as Edmonton or Abu Dhabi, where the food will be consumed locally.

Kiara Hoffman, Farm Manager, holding a full-sized Deepwater Sea Bass. July 2019.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the farm, check out their website and consider enrolling in the Aquaponic Ambassador program, which is a grassroots movement designed to engage locals in the development of the farm.


Written by: Grant Lahring, Sales & Marketing Manager