Today, the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) announced an investment to bring innovative, sustainable farming and new economic growth to the Greater New Haven region. The RWA will provide an investment to Meriden-based Trifecta Ecosystems, allowing them to establish a regional aquaponics program in the Greater New Haven Region. Aquaponics systems combine aquaculture - the raising of aquatic animals such as fish - with hydroponics - the growing of plants in water - in symbiotic, climate controlled environments. These efficient, compact farms are designed to ensure that families living in cities and other population centers have access to fresh, affordable, and healthy produce.
The RWA’s $500,000 investment will allow for the creation of a series of custom-controlled environment agriculture aquaponics systems, an urban farming technology platform, and workforce training programs aimed at improving food security and sustainable practices in the agriculture and fish-farming sectors. The RWA has the option to invest up to an additional $1.5 million with board approval.
“The RWA is excited to support meaningful innovations, like aquaponics, that help fuel our company’s non-core revenue stream to benefit our customers and boost regional economic growth,” said RWA President and CEO Larry Bingaman. “We believe the science of aquaponics holds real potential for Connecticut in addressing land management issues and overcoming resource challenges facing traditional agriculture. Trifecta Ecosystems has offered strong solutions and a readiness to expand into the New Haven region.”
“The RWA’s support will allow us to invest in a new aquaponics system site in the New Haven region that will combine food production, aggregation, processing, research, and workforce training at integrated locations, helping pave the way for statewide adoption,” said Spencer Curry, Trifecta Ecosystems co-founder and CEO. “This investment will allow our company to continue towards our mission of creating the City that Feeds Itself, by providing communities the tools they need to grow their own food, cost effectively, scalably, and repeatedly.”
“I named Trifecta Ecosystems my April 2018 ‘Innovator of the Month’ because of their incredible efforts to help people grow their own healthy food,” said U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. “The work they’re doing will have a lasting impact on the future of food production in Connecticut, and it’s exciting to see them expanding their reach to serve even more people in our state.”
Aquaponics offers a number of benefits to communities and urban epicenters. Produce can be grown with natural rather than chemical fertilizers. The systems use less water than traditional growing methods because the water is recycled. In fact, aquaponics has the ability to reduce carbon emissions and produce food, using up to 95% less water than traditional agriculture. Aquaponics farms also have a much smaller physical footprint than traditional farms, allowing them to be constructed in cities and other densely populated areas. This is a critical benefit to families living in cities where access to fresh produce is often limited. Trifecta Ecosystems offers efficient, scalable farming technology that allows urban farmers to grow high-quality produce at competitive prices.
Trifecta Ecosystems is enabling a new generation of farmers. Trifecta Ecosystems sells a range of products including a fully modular aquaponics farm capable of feeding at least 150 people per week, software to empower farmers to sell their produce, and smaller gardens and growing stations designed for schools and households. They also offer job-training for community members and engagement-based learning for students. Trifecta Ecosystems recently announced a partnership with the Capitol Region Education Council so that Connecticut’s teachers will soon provide a hands-on aquaponics education to enhance the STEM education of their students.
The RWA’s business venture with Trifecta Ecosystems is part of the nonprofit corporation’s continuing efforts to identify new lines of business that generate additional revenue to reduce rate pressure on its customers. For several years, the RWA has worked with local and state elected officials, environmental groups and community organizations to make changes to the enabling legislation that governs what the RWA can do as an organization. In 2017, legislation was passed in Connecticut that permits the RWA to conduct and invest in appropriate non-core business activities, including agriculture, to generate income and offset future water rate increases.
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