When Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne quit their day jobs to start a green sustainable venture together, you could say they had a bigger fish to fry.
Graduates of the Sustainable Business Management (SBM) program, Brandon and Steven have been working out of a narrow shipping container parked at the Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. Most of the square footage inside the container is taken up by an aquaponics system they built themselves, including two 300-gallon fish tanks.
The fish — about 150 tilapia — are the biological engines of Ripple Farms, a food-growing project based on fish poop and developed at Seneca’s on-campus incubator, HELIX. “HELIX has been with us from the start,” says Steven. “We’ve been connected with people from a wide array of disciplines, helping us navigate through this startup. We would be months behind without their advice and mentorship.”
Ripple Farms features the first urban farming unit of its kind in Canada with a greenhouse built upon a shipping container. Recently, SBM students took a field trip there to learn about aquaponics — combining fish farming with soil-less plant cultivation to produce organic food — and about Ripple Farms as a social enterprise dedicated to putting people before profits.
The trip was sponsored by Seneca’s Alumni Student Experience Fund, which provides students experiential learning opportunities that connects them with successful grads like Brandon and Steven.
Since they launched Ripple Farms, Brandon and Steven have supplied their produce to a number of top restaurants in the Toronto area that value a “farm-to-fork” motto. Ripple Farms has also been working on a new product line made from a waste byproduct of their system, sticking true to their vision of “closing the loop” on sustainable farming practices. They have expanded their team and scaled up operations in another downtown location, about 15 times the size of their shipping container. Best of all, a Ripple Farms unit is now housed at Newnham Campus and will be tied to programs at Seneca.
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