We are Tim & Bonny Goodenough along with our family - Boston, Kessler, Wyndsor & Elly. We are the 4th & 5th generation farm family that started as dairy/hog/beef and moved into a grain operation before becoming aquaponics greenhouse growers.
It all started several years ago when commodity prices were high, grain prices were variable and mother nature was throwing us curve balls. Tim started searching for a different means of farming and he had fish farming in the back of his mind because of a trip he took to South America when he was on the American Soybean Board. We found Nelson & Pade, a company in Wisconsin that has been in the Aquaponics industry for over 30 years and they opened the doors for us. We started our journey by attending a 3 day Master Class on Aquaponics at Nelson & Pade where we learned what it was all about. During the 3 day course, Bonny found that this new style of farming was just what she had been looking for as the process is a mix of microbiology, chemistry and gardening; all key pieces she has a background in. So with Tim's ability to implement a new business as prior to grain farming, he owned a successful bar/restaurant for many years, we started the process but knew it would be no easy task.
We purchased a used greenhouse (actually 8) in Eau Claire in 2014. But they were still standing so we needed to disassemble them. What an adventure we had. It took the entire monty of August staying in our camper on site and then it was another 2 months of Tim and our dad's continuing to dismantle while the kids and I returned home to start school. We had many trips to Eau Claire daily and everyone thought we were nuts but we continued forward. We still laugh and reminisce over memories from "up in Eau Claire" and we will never take a shower or running water for granted again.
Our next step was to solidify a business loan. That proved to be a task in itself as this is very new and no one had ever heard of such a growing process. We proceeded to write our business plan and start to get things in order for when we could proceed forward. We continued to visit Nelson & Pade to help stay in the aquaponics loop and tried and learn as much as possible prior to start up. Bonny took a semester course through UW-Stevens Point on aquaponics that ended with a 3 day lab at Nelson & Pade where they were able to put what was learned into real life learning and problem solving.
In the fall of 2015, we laid out the plan and had concrete piers poured, stood the support posts that we ordered and set the trusses knowing that if we could get started, the bank would know we were serious about our project. Finally, after much waiting, we convinced a bank to fund us and the construction phase began in June of 2016. We had a plan to construct the greenhouse during the month of June and July, the fish system during the month of August and be up and running by fall of 2016. Wrong! We worked side by side with crews from June 2016 - January of 2017. We were able to fill our nursery by the beginning of December and our main system in January. We still continue to have side projects and future plans to work toward but the day is finally here to open our doors. We will sell our products at our on-site market, attend some farmers markets in La Crosse and would love to sell to some local restaurants, schools or grocery stores. If you are interested in seeing our growing process and serving our products at your facility, let us know.
We feel that aquaponics will be the new face of farming as it is sustainable, healthier and can supply more food per acre than traditional farming along with it is grown locally year round in a controlled environment. Take a short drive and enjoy the scenery. We'd love to have you visit and check us out!