Trout in the city

I was telling fish stories again. And surrounded by bursting-ripe veggies, the gardener told me wistfully, “I could eat fish every day.”

Which a responsible eater can do in the Midwest. For a price. My local fishmongers, at the Willy St. Coop and the Jenifer St. Market in Madison, are all up on sustainable fisheries. They have wild Alaska sockeye and halibut, and I love them for it. But man does that fish have to travel. Locavorism it ain’t. So I stick to the brats — though mostly because they’re cheaper. Meanwhile I dream of Dolly Vardens.

In Alaska, fish farming is a dirty word — for the most part, rightly so. But what would Southeast fishermen say about Growing Power? Will Allen, the basketball-player-turned-Macarthur-genius-urban-farmer, is trying to raise perch and tilapia in a system that sustains itself.

It goes like this, according to the website: Pond water drains downhill, where bacteria break it down the fish-waste ammonia to nitrogen. Now it’s fertilizer water, and it heads over to the garden, where a coconut-shell peat-moss replacement helps tomatoes and greens drink up the nutrients. Then the water flows back to the fish.

Allen comes to Madison this week. Perhaps I’ll talk him into growing dollies.

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