- Animals: fish
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, focus group, networking, participatory research, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study
- Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, public participation, employment opportunities, social capital, sustainability measures, community development
Located in the rural Appalachian Kentucky, the economy of the Pine Mountain region has for years depended on the declining coal industry. Of necessity, community leaders are seeking new and diverse jobs to support its workforce. The idea of aquaculture development in Southeast Kentucky has been in its formative stage for the last five years. As a component of its Rural Community College Initiative, Southeast Community College (SECC) established a small-scale Rainbow Trout production facility to test the theory that impaired water from abandoned underground coal mines could be used to grow marketable fish. That environment proved to be ideal for production and the trout have thrived. In partnership with the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute, SECC obtained funding from the Steele Reese Foundation to construct a facility at James A. Cawood High School for rearing Tilapia. That project has likewise thrived and is now also producing Red-clawed Crayfish. Building upon these efforts the collaborators now believe that local farmers can benefit from the developed technology and enter commercial ventures capable of generating a sustainable income. As outcomes for this project, the collaborators will seek to develop a regional strategic plan for aquaculture, which will address market capacity, processing alternatives, and other factors affecting the industry. To encourage citizen input, Leadership Harlan County United will adopt sustainable industries such as aquaculture as its central theme for economic development in its 2004 annual eight-month academy. Local farmers will explore the formation of a cooperative and identify seed-funding to initiate individual ventures.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objectives for this aquaculture initiative are to 1) collaboratively work with officials and Cooperative Extension Agents in three counties to produce a regional strategic plan for aquaculture; 2) identify a network of at least 10 entrepreneurs who may produce more than 15,000 pounds of fish a year.; 3) explore the feasibility of a cooperatively owned processing facility to add value to the fish; 4) complete a marketing study for locally produced fish; and 5) identify sources of capital to facilitate individual development of farms.