|| 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 List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon|
|Run, Nick, Run|
|100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out|
|One Tough Mayor|
|Cream of the Crop|
|Fare Thee Well, Company Town|
|Hiring report disappoints|
|Phil Knight memoir: Coming spring 2016|
|2 out of 5 millennials pay for their news|
|Oregon's graying workforce|
|How much did Bernie Sanders raise in Q3?|
|Federal regulators OK Jordan Cove LNG terminal|
|Amazon to emulate parts of Uber's model|
Wage gaps and workforce shortages are threatening the quality of care and supports to Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Who’s caring for those who care for our most vulnerable residents?
Engaging employees and customers along the way.
After first visiting as tourists, entrepreneurs relocate to Oregon and spur economic growth.
Over 300 attendees will gather to learn from 50+ regional leaders pushing the sustainability needle forward. GoGreen Portland offers a distinct platform of bringing people together across industries and sectors to build viable networks and cross-pollinate best practices throughout the regional business community.
Are you planning a meeting, party, gala, fundraiser, holiday party, golf tournament, retirement party, team building or birthday? You won’t want to miss this show to get hundreds of great ideas!
Promoting from within its own ranks, PacificSource Health Plans has tapped Tony Kopki to head its commercial lines of business in Oregon, Idaho and Montana. In his new role as Vice President of Commercial Programs, Kopki will provide strategic, product and market leadership for PacificSource’s commercial programs.