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Urban Harvest gets support from Xavier


Xavier University will offer a wealth of support to Brad Roger’s start-up company Urban Harvest. Rogers won the Xavier Launch-A-Business (X-LAB) Competition, sponsored by the university’s Williams College of Business and Sedler Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Judges announce the complete list of winners 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the Grand Atrium of Smith Hall. Winners, such as Rogers, will develop a business plan and receive consulting services, networking opportunities and a meeting with possible investors. The competition included a questionnaire submission, and 30- and 60-minute interviews with panels of experts.

In a preview interview with Soapbox, Rogers, a project manager for a home remodeling company, explained that Urban Harvest aims to bring more fresh fish and produce, and employment, to area communities. He says the company plans to use an innovative, cost-effective system called aquaponics, a hybrid of aquafarming (fish raising) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).

In this system, when fish are fed, he says, fish waste provides nutrients that are circulated into the planting beds. The plants, in turn, filter the water for the fish. “It’s like a mini eco-system.”

“Ideally, with the system I want to setup, ” he adds, “it will produce 10,000 heads of lettuce and some herbs every week, and produce about 10,000 pounds of fish a year.”

Rogers was the local expert behind the development of an aquaponics system at H.J. Benken Florist & Garden Center in Blue Ash. Launched in November, it was treated as a beta test for an aquaponics system planned for a village outside Jos, Nigeria. The local, faith-based company Self-Sustaining Enterprises (SSE) helped install the system there in March. Pete West, a Procter & Gamble engineer, was among the locals who traveled to Nigeria.

“The idea was twofold,” he says. “To provide gainful employment for people in the village area, and to provide food that village will eat.”

Rogers and SSE hope to expand that idea in the Greater Cincinnati area, employing community members and engaging farmers.

“The goal is to have a main campus, where I teach people about aquaponics, but then I want to establish other aquaponic centers in neighborhoods,” he says. “Some communities have to hop on three buses to get to a grocery store.”

By Rich Shivener
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