GOSHEN -- Two Elkhart men will grow tilapia, tomatoes, herbs and peppers in Goshen starting before the end of the year.
Northern Indiana Aquaponics founders John Metz and Kevin Boyer got approval Tuesday from the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals to start their business at 2124 W. Wilden Ave.
"We've got some things to work out with the plumbing, we'll probably buy fish by the end of December," said Metz, right after getting the zoning board's OK.
Boyer told the board, "We're going to be raising fish in steel tanks." In all, there will be three 6,480-gallon tanks, two large filters and a greenhouse.
The waste from the fish operation will serve as water and fertilizer for the greenhouse -- hence the term aquaponics, a combination of aquaculture (farming aquatic organisms) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil).
"If you stand outside all you'd hear is a hum. No smells, no noises to speak of. It's going to be pretty benign to neighbors," Boyer said.
"We will have virtually no wastewater that goes anywhere," he explained.
They plan to start out raising roughly 30,000 pounds of the tropical fish every year.
The equipment has been around for decades and is a proven system, Boyer said.
The property's owner, David Miller of Middlebury, said, "They have really done their homework on their end as far as the fish operation." Miller said after buying it last year, he's working to bring the long-neglected property up to area standards.
Boyer and Metz said they'd like to expand into a larger building on Miller's property if their sales to restaurants, markets and fish haulers go well.