Loudoun Co. farm to grow lettuce using fish waste

WASHINGTON — Aquaponics startup Kappa Farms is opening a new indoor farm in Sterling, Virginia, that will produce organic baby lettuce and arugula using water and nutrients from fish waste.

Kappa Farms will invest $865,000 to retrofit an existing warehouse into a year-round aquaponics farm and expects to produce more than $7 million worth of lettuce over the next three years, which it will sell to both consumers and restaurants in the D.C. area.

The new facility will create 21 jobs, according to Kappa Farms.

The startup will get a $40,000 grant from the Governor’s Agricultural and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which will be matched by local funds from Loudoun County.

“Environmental challenges, changes in economics and advances in materials and technology have all come to a point at which supplying locally grown and organic produce is both more vital and more feasible than ever before,” said Kappa Farms co-founder Schuyler Milton.

The facility will be what is called a closed-loop nutrient cycle aquaponics facility, which uses water and nutrients derived from fish waste.

“Aquaculture production represents an opportunity for Virginia to capitalize on the need to feed a growing population with limited resources,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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