Farm to Table: Innovative water farmers serving up homegrown foods year round

It's not your typical Midwestern farm. But, Future Roots gets the job done.

\"You can see that the roots are growing just the same as they would in soil,\" co-owner Cole Wenzel said.

Wenzel and his business partner Bill Gannon have spent the last year growing veggies like lettuce, kale, cabbage and even mint using a water based growing technique called aquaponics. They raise yellow perch fish in big tanks and then the magic happens.

\"The ammonia from their waste gill excretion is converted by naturally occurring bacteria to nitrite and then nitrate, so that becomes a naturally rich fertilizer.\"

The fertilizer is funneled to the plants with water, where it helps them grow, and then loops back to the fish. The process uses less than 10-percent of the water of traditional agriculture. Even better, it means fresh local food year round as the demand for quality homegrown foods increases.

\"The younger generation is more aware of what they're doing; there is more passion and more wherewithal of what's going into their food,\" Wenzel said.

Future Roots partners with restaurants Grassroots Salad Co., Engine Company No. 3, Parkside 23, and Morel but they say their mission extends beyond food.

\"It ties into something larger than just food necessarily or the local food supply chain system. Our mission is to inspire people to lead fulfilling lives.\"

Future Roots is expanding its farm to offer vegetables directly to families. For more information visit

Share this article: