By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator
Nelson and Pade, Inc.'s passion for aquaponics really comes across in our conversation with co-founder and co-owner Rebecca Nelson. Her near essay on her company's origin story reflects Nelson and Pade's dynamic history and sustained enthusiasm for innovation.
Rebecca Nelson and John Pade serve on our Aquaponics Advisory Council, whose expertise helped us meticulously develop our Aquaponics Certification in 2016. They are longtime allies in the truest sense, so we're thrilled to welcome them in our esteemed community of Business Allies.
Read on to discover more about the company's long history, wide reach, and to learn what Rebecca would do if she had a magic agricultural wand!
Rebecca Nelson (RN): Nelson and Pade was founded in 1985 as a hydroponics (soilless plant production) company, growing and selling fresh vegetables. In the late 80s, founder, Rebecca Nelson and John Pade, began offering consulting services and publishing books and videos to fill a need for information on soilless farming methods. Then, in the early 90s, the company saw the potential of aquaponic farming, a natural and sustainable method of growing fish and vegetables year-round, and embarked on a path to develop the science of aquaponics into an industry.
Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, Nelson and Pade provided consulting and aquaponic system design services and published the Aquaponics Journal.
By 2005, the demand for aquaponic systems of all sizes was growing and Nelson and Pade determined that the growth and success of the budding aquaponics industry would require a supplier of quality, complete, standardized aquaponic systems, training and long-term grower support. Nelson and Pade was perfectly poised to fill this need and motivated to do so.
As people continued to discover aquaponics, the number of people visiting Nelson and Pade’s website, www.aquaponics.com, steadily increased. The Company founders evaluated the opportunity and made a clear and calculated plan to grow the company and the industry. This plan included establishing a company headquarters for manufacturing, advancing the training programs, and hiring staff to help the company meet its mission and goals.
In early 2010, Nelson and Pade moved into new facilities and, at that time, had 2 employees besides the founders. Growth has been steady since this move.
In addition to manufacturing aquaponic systems and providing world-class training programs, we operate a 14,000 square foot aquaponics greenhouse that we use for commercial production, demonstration, and education. The aquaponic systems in our greenhouse continually produces fresh fish and vegetables year-round. Our methods are free of pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, and contaminants. The quality of what we grow is appreciated by our clients, which include schools, hospitals, restaurants and grocery stores.
CNG: What are Nelson and Pade's core values?
RN: We believe that providing our customers with quality, proven aquaponic systems, comprehensive training, Standard Operating Procedures, and long-term grower support is the key to our clients success. We treat our clients like family and work very hard to make their journey in getting started growing a successful, profitable, and enjoyable one.
As a grower, we believe that providing the best quality food to our community is the ultimate thing we can give back.
CNG: How did you make the decision to support CNG as a Business Ally?
RN: We fully believe in and support the efforts of Certified Naturally Grown. Being a Business Ally demonstrates our commitment to CNG and our confidence in the certification as well as the organization.
CNG: How does Certified Naturally Grown support Nelson and Pade's customers?
RN: CNG supports our customers by providing a certification that builds confidence in the produce that we grow.
CNG: What are some exciting developments at Nelson and Pade our CNG community can look forward to?
RN: We have now had people travel from 109 countries to attend our Aquaponics Master Class®, and we have shipped our Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® to people in 28 countries. We are very proud of the global reach and impact we are having on the availability of fresh food around the world.
Additionally, we are now offering an aquaponic system for growing hemp. Our science-based aquaponic systems for hemp uses our same proven methods that we use for vegetables, but integrate advanced techniques and specific design criteria for farming hemp and other medicinal herbs in aquaponics.
CNG: If you had a magic agricultural wand, how would you use it to improve farm systems in America?
RN: With a magic wand, I would expand the use of aquaponics in America as a way to efficiently, naturally, and profitably grow fresh fish and vegetables. My magic wand would educate those who have not yet learned about the benefits of aquaponics and it would eliminate barriers, such as regulation and start-up cost, so that more people could embrace this method of food production.
CNG: Is there anything else CNG farmers and beekeepers should know?
RN: We truly appreciate that CNG made the effort to set standards for and include an aquaponics certification in addition to the other certifications they offer. It is a great benefit for our industry to have this option available and we are very happy to be associated with CNG!