IT’S NEVER too late to start fresh by promoting healthy living through commitment to growing a business that feeds and blesses the body. Blűhen Farms Aquaponics’ partners Steve and Carol Riggs and Rich Slattery, Carol’s brother, operate a Shelbyville greenhouse utilizing non-GMO and all-organic processes and practices.
Blűhen, German for “bloom- ing”, was chosen in memory of Car- ol and Rich’s beloved mother, Ro- traud, a Bavarian immigrant who died too young of cancer. Believing many of our diseases and debilitat- ing conditions today result from our foods’ toxins, the team is commit- ted to making healthy ingredients available to everyone at a price that is affordable.
Although not organically cer- tified, the aquaponics system com- bines the raising of fish and the growing of plants in water utilizing natural processes to produce healthy plants. Non-GMO fed tilapia and catfish living in clean, filtered water produce waste that becomes fertil- izer for the plants. The ammonia from the waste is converted into us- able nitrates, feeding the plants. The fish, because they’re cold-blooded, cannot pass on e-coli, a sometimes deadly bacteria often found in con- taminated greens.
The plants float on food-grade foamraftsinwaterbedstakingup the filtered nutrients from the fish fertilizer through their roots hanging in the water. The roots filter the wa- ter that returns to the fish where the process begins again. The process is a repeating cycle of fresh starts!
Originally from Ohio, the 2006 economic downturn brought change to the Riggs’ lives. Former missionaries and a church pas- tor, the low-income church they’d pastored was unable to continue, leading them to consider a move. Steve’s close friend invited them to visit Tennessee. Carol’s desire to be where it was warmer and Steve’s love of the mountains made serious and prayerful consideration the easy thing to do.
Steve, a farm boy, had been employed in several agricultural positions through- out his life. Seeds were planted in prayer for a self-sustaining greenhouse that would enable them to make a difference by growing healthy and nutritious food that would bless anyone involved.
A greenhouse for sale in Knoxville proved to be suitable for their opera- tions and included room for expansion. Steve and Rich traveled east to disman- tle and move the set-up, and it was dis- assembled and on the ground when a devastating call came. The Riggs’ young adult son had unexpectedly passed away.
Abandoning the project to respond to the tragedy, the greenhouse construction was set aside while the fam- ily walked through their overwhelming loss – every parent’s worst nightmare. They believe God’s faithfulness sustains them and continues to enable them to face each day in the strength He pro- vides — a repeating cycle of fresh starts.
After nearly five years of planning, building the growth systems, planting, and harvesting, the greenhouse’s first sales were in 2021. Presently their pro- duce, including lettuces, tomatoes, pep- pers, and cucumbers, are sold through area farmers’ markets. You can con- tact Blühen to arrange purchase and pickup by calling (931) 619-6050 or emailing email@example.com. -GN