|| Print ||
|Wednesday, December 15, 2010|
Jon Thenhaus’s latest business idea grew out of a simple desire to have an infinite supply of fresh basil within easy reach in the kitchen. That wish grew more complicated as he refined his ideas and followed his muse, from herbs to worms and fish. Nine prototypes and several “massive failures” later, the 37-year-old founder of Fishy Farm has developed an ingenious ecosystem for the kitchen or the back yard.
The Fishy Farm consists of a fish tank underneath an herb garden. The indoor model is tight and compact, while the outdoor model has a much larger tank and a tight seal to keep the fish safe from marauding critters.
It works like this: human feeds fish, fish feed worms, worms feed plants, and plants (and occasionally fish) feed humans. Water pumps up from the fish tank to the herb garden, where worms convert fish poop into fertilizer. The water filters down through volcanic pumice and pebbles of clay, back to the fish tank. Thenhaus, who describes himself as “really, really lazy,” insists that no work is required to keep the water clean. Apparently the worms and plants do the work.
I don't know about lazy, but Thenhaus definitely struck me as sharp and inventive when I visited him at his small storefront recently. Fishy Farms is Thenhaus’s second Hillsboro-based startup. His first, Oregon Environmental Systems, employs a dozen people selling solvent recyclers globally. A native of Spencer, Neb. (population 530 when he was a kid), he settled in Oregon after growing tired of flying four days a week for his previous jobs setting up communication systems for global companies.
Thenhaus has sold just “a handful” of Fishy Farms (prices start at $999), but he has ambitious plans to incorporate his designs into greenhouses, kitchen remodels and restaurants. He’s been talking to Oregon Tilth about how to earn an organic designation and researching opportunities for franchising the brand.
The basil is now within easy reach. Thenhaus's herb garden in his kitchen puts the finishing touch on dinner, while the farm in his back yard is larger and more ambitious, the tank stocked with koi and rainbow trout. He says the fish survived just fine during a recent freeze, as did the plants. “I didn’t have to do anything,” he says. “The ice melted and they went right back to growing.”
He's hoping the same trend will apply to his business.
|The Love Boat|
|The Food Pod Grows Up|
|The High Road|
|Tinker, Tailor, Portland Maker|
|The Shift to Community Health Care|
|The Harder They Fall|
|Another chapter to the Bezos/Musk space race story|
|Thanksgiving travel: Fuel costs low, terrorism anxiety high|
|Costco chicken salad linked to E. coli case in Washington|
|Nestle comes clean about benefitting from slave labor|
|Enormous drugmaker emerges from Pfizer, Allergan deal|
|Startups joining lobbying game|
|Merchants complain as Square goes public|
Economic diversity has proven a smart strategy for the Port of Hood River. How can other Oregon communities replicate the model?
Phone, Internet needs of small community school districts earn attention of top-five telecom provider.
Farmland LP grows its vision for organic farming in Oregon.
The Salem Convention Center has capped its tenth anniversary year by earning the prestigious “Best of the Best 2015” award from NW Meetings & Events magazine. Selected as the Best Convention/Conference Venue in Oregon by meeting and event planners from Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Salem Convention Center ranked above the Oregon Convention Center and the Portland Art Museum.
The Oregon Cooperative Hall of Fame honors individuals for their outstanding contributions to the successful building and operation of Oregon agricultural cooperatives.
Health insurer reports $10.2 million in net income after taxes through the first nine months of 2015.