Five years ago, Adam Cohen was a Texas high school teacher who used Aquaponics as way to “engage” his students. For more than a decade, he taught math and science, entrepreneurship and agriculture. He was intrigued by the prospect of growing aquatic animals and plants together in a symbiotic relationship and a sustainable environment.
Adam holds degrees in marine biology and marine fisheries from Texas A&M University, and he was intrigued by the prospect of growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic relationship and a closed loop, highly energy-efficient environment. He was, as he says, “hooked on ‘ponics.”
Growing an Idea
So much so, that he enlisted his father, David Cohen, who joined him in the effort to grow Green Phoenix Farms into the premier Aquaponics education and design/build firm in the North Texas area.
The firm flourished, working with numerous schools and colleges to establish Aquaponics programs, and assisting small and large-scale growers to realize their dreams and build new businesses.
Long-term plans called for establishing a production facility, expanding data-collection efforts to focus on the science and the business of Aquaponics, and continuing to develop new educational programs.
However, in the fall of 2015, Adam Cohen was tapped to return to the classroom, with a twist. He now serves as lead faculty and head of an innovative Greenhouse Technologies and Operations program in the School of Trades, Technology, Sustainability & Professional Studies at Santa Fe Community College in northern New Mexico.
2016 and Beyond
Over the past year, David advanced the goal of establishing the teaching and growing facility – the Farm – in Burleson. With classes that offer both seminar sessions and hands-on learning, the first greenhouse is essentially a demonstration facility, designed to offer experiential learning opportunities for local Aquaponic gardeners and those who might want to be. This facility is also open for tours and is the site of popular First Saturday Gatherings, open to the public free of charge.
The planned production facility; a 20 X 120 foot greenhouse, will be complete in January, and is destined to become the small-scale commercial production facility, as well as the data collection center. Detailed records will be kept on labor, costs, growth cycles, temperatures, fish food consumption, fish growth, systems operation, water and electrical usage, potential problems, pest control, best products, marketing options, and related business concerns. The goal is to provide a year’s worth of statistics for anyone interested in opening an Aquaponics business.
David has joined his son as an enthusiastic urban farmer.
The Birth of DFW Aquaponics Farms, LLC
The Burleson Farm now operates as DFW Aquaponics Farms, LLC. David Cohen spearheads operations and marketing development as well as the ongoing educational program. Loretta Messinger, a lifelong gardener with expertise in corporate management, has joined him to coordinate crop development, data collection and volunteer/work programs.
Adam Cohen, who was elected to a two-year-term as chair of the national Aquaponics Association in November 2016, retains control of Green Phoenix Farms, with headquarters in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Although 2017 marks a new direction for the separate companies, father and son both remain committed to Aquaponics not only as a way to produce good food, but also as a good way to make a living in the future.
We hope you’ll join us in this growing adventure! Let’s get hooked on ‘ponics!