How 500 fish are helping to grow 40 heads of lettuce

Inuk Theriault's garage is not what you might expect. Instead of cars or tools, he filled it with fish tanks. And out of those, he's growing lettuce.

Pairing fish farming with hydroponics, company looks to make food locally and sustainably

Inuk Theriault and Guillaume Desjardins started their lettuce-growing and fish farming business out of their garages a year ago. (Kassandra Nadeau-Lamarche/RADIO CANADA)

Inuk Theriault's garage is not what you might expect.

Instead of cars or tools, he filled it with fish tanks. And out of those, he's growing lettuce.

About a year ago, Theriault and three of his friends started Aquadie Cooperative in Kedgwick. It's an aquaponics business, twinning fish farming and hydroponics, with big dreams of community self-sufficiency.

Theriault said hydroponics is being used more and more around the world to grow food because the technique helps food grow faster. So, Theriault and a few friends decided they would try it. 

They use fish waste as fertilizer for their lettuce. (Kassandra Nadeau-Lamarche/RADIO CANADA)

"We were talking and looking on the Internet and we heard about this type of growing. We were trying new stuff and we decided to give it a go," he told Shift New Brunswick.

Their business is a co-op, allowing anyone to join and invest in the company. They've had help from experts on both parts of the business: the plants and the fish.

Inuk Theriault's garage is not what you might expect. Instead of cars or tools, he filled it with fish tanks. And out of those, he's growing lettuce. About a year ago, Theriault and three of his friends started Aquadie Cooperative in Kedgwick. It's an aquaponics business, twinning fish farming and hydroponics, with big dreams of community self-sufficiency. 11:47

This is the first phase of the company's growth. They have three co-founders, each with their own home setups. Theriault has 500 rainbow trout and can produce 40 heads of lettuce every five or six weeks.

They're experimenting with different types of food and fish to see how they can improve the process. Right now, they're offering their lettuce free so people can try it and see their set-up. They have also brought mini set-ups to grocery stores to show off the project.

Theriault can grow 40 heads of lettuce in five or six weeks with the hydroponics and fish farming method of growing. (Kassandra Nadeau-Lamarche/RADIO CANADA)

"Some people call me and ask if the lettuce is going to taste like fish? And I can assure you, there's no taste of fish in the food," he said.

"It's the same thing as when you use manure of cows or horses to put in your garden on the earth, you don't taste the cow or the horse. It's being transformed by the roots of the plants and the roots just absorb what they need in the waste."

Right now, the business is a side project for the co-founders, who work on it in their spare time. They've had interest from people across the Maritimes in what they're doing and hope it expands throughout New Brunswick and beyond.

With files from Shift New Brunswick