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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 08, 2019 1:00 am

Ag firm signs Electric Works lease

Muncie business uses fish waste as plant fertilizer

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

A Muncie company that uses fish waste as plant fertilizer has signed a lease for space in Electric Works, officials announced Monday.

Balance Holdings Inc. is a commercial regenerative agriculture technology company that uses 1% of the water needed for traditional farming and less than 20% used in hydroponics, a process of growing plants without soil, officials said.

The company will grow fish and crayfish in tanks. The waste-filled water, which is full of nutrients, is channeled to plants that produce fruits and vegetables. The plants filter the water, which is then cycled back to the fish tanks, creating a closed-loop system with no waste.

Glynn Barber, the company's founder, said that “growing better food is more than just putting a better tomato into the grocery store – it's about growing a better future” for the next generation.

“We believe healthier food produces healthier people, which produce healthier communities – and we see an exciting and unique opportunity for ECSIA to make a profound impact on this community, partnering with healthcare providers and higher education institutions at Electric Works,” Barber said in a statement.

More than 300 varieties of fruits and vegetables have been grown using the company's patented system in Indiana, Texas and Haiti.

Balance Holdings plans to sell fish, fruits and vegetables to restaurants in the region and directly to the public at an on-site store in Electric Works.

Jeff Kingsbury, a partner in Electric Works developer RTM Ventures, said the new tenant checks a lot of boxes for the type of businesses RTM is trying to attract.

RTM Ventures, he said in a statement, is looking for “firms that are exploring new technologies and market-based solutions through strategic alliances and creative partnerships with other businesses, as well as healthcare and education institutions.”

“At the same time, (the company's) impact will be felt in the neighborhoods surrounding Electric Works – areas of the city that have struggled with access to healthy food in the past,” Kingsbury added.

This is the second tenant announcement for Electric Works featuring an agricultural technology company in two weeks. Last week, the developers announced that Sweetwater Urban Farms had signed a lease agreement.

Sweetwater Urban Farms uses aeroponic technology to produce nutrient-rich greens and herbs. 

Aeroponic systems nourish plants with nothing more than nutrient-laden mist, according to the Modern Farmer website.

Electric Works is a mixed-use district of innovation, energy and culture, developed as a public/private partnership between RTM Ventures and the city of Fort Wayne. The 39-acre campus just south of downtown is the former location of General Electric.

RTM Ventures plans to convert 1.2 million square feet in 18 historic buildings into space for office, educational, innovation, retail, residential, hotel and entertainment uses.

sslater@jg.net