Grown Here at Home: Bedford farmer grows fish, finds niche in stocking ponds

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 7:14 AM EST
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - At Graham Bass Fish Farm in Bedford, it’s simple: They grow fish. Initially the fish were grown primarily as a food product, and while they still do that, in the past couple years, things have changed.

“We are evolving away from the food market as a primary activity and going towards the need in Virginia,” said John Graham, owner of Graham Bass Fish Farm.

That need is stocking ponds.

“There are a lot of private ponds that people stock for their own personal recreational activities,” John said.

He acknowledges there are concerns out there about the methods used to grow fish. John says there are fish farm operations that are more focused on the harvest rather than the quality or the care of fish, which in some cases causes stress on the fish, which can then become a toxic environment for them to live in.

John says, “We have the opportunity here to grow our fish as close to their natural settings as possible.”

John does this through a process called recirculating aquaculture. On the farm they grow three- to four-thousand pounds of fish a year, from small fish to big fish. They have three types of bass and two types of trout. They’re fed a protein-rich diet.

“We don’t use antibiotics, we don’t use hormones, we put the fish in an environment that they’re used to growing in, so we don’t overstress the fish, and all that comes together to provide a healthy quality product food source,” John explained.

Growing fish is a time-intensive process. John says it takes about a year-and-a-half to grow them to proper size.

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