Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about Sweet Water “Organics”, the urban aquaponics operation that was neither organic (as its name indicated) or successful, as Sweet Water “Organics” closed its doors after failing to meet job creation numbers mandated in the terms of a $250,000 loan given to Sweet Water “Organics” by the City of Milwaukee.

On May 13 of this year, Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the City of Milwaukee would seize equipment used by the defunct Sweet Water “Organics” with the hopes of reducing the amount owed by the company on that defaulted loan, an amount which stood at $137,205.

On Monday, February 18 of this year, Sweet Water “Organics” co-founder Jim Godsil appeared before the Community & Economic Development Committee of the Milwaukee Common Council to discuss the status of the city’s $250,000 forgivable loan to Sweet Water, and during his remarks (starting at about 1:38:00 of the video below) Godsil noted that thanks to the City of Milwaukee’s loan to Sweet Water “Organics,” that company was able to bring in aquaponics expert Charlie Price, who then designed a “state of the art” aquaponics system at Sweet Water. Following Godsil’s remarks, Sweet Water Foundation Executive Director Emmanuel Pratt reiterated the fact that the Sweet Water 2.0 system was designed by Charlie Price.

Here’s the video from the February 18 meeting of the Community & Economic Development Committee meeting, along with a LINK in case the embedded video isn’t working.

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Despite their remarks to the Community & Economic Development Committee that Sweet Water’s 2.0 aquaponics system was designed by Charlie Price, Charlie Price himself has disavowed the system used by Sweet Water, writing in an email, “this isn’t really our design at all,” adding that “the whole thing turned into a shambles” when Sweet Water didn’t follow his design instructions. In fact, Price noted that in January/February 2013, he wrote to them (Sweet Water “Organics”) asking them to not refer to their system as a “Charlie Price system” as it wasn’t a system he had designed. I don’t know why Godsil and Pratt misrepresented their “state of the art” aquaponics system as having been designed by Charlie Price, but their remarks strike me as being more about the preservation of their respective enterprises rather than being driven by a desire to be completely forthcoming about the true state of operations at Sweet Water “Organics.”

So despite their assertions that their system was designed by aquaponics expert Charlie Price, the fact is the Sweet Water 2.0 system as explained by Jim Godsil and Emmanuel Pratt wasn’t designed (or approved) by Charlie Price.

It’s been reported that Sweet Water “Organics” wanted to change the terms of the forgivable loan it had received from the City of Milwaukee, in order to allow the Sweet Water Foundation to take over the loan and the task of creating more jobs. However, according to the February 18 remarks given by Executive Director Pratt of the Sweet Water Foundation, that group did not want to be responsible for direct job creation, instead focusing on its education efforts as a means of indirectly creating jobs for those it educated.

Sweet Water “Organics” and those responsible for running that company are directly responsible for the failure of their venture, and that failure should not be rewarded by altering the terms of the loan given to Sweet Water “Organics” by the City of Milwaukee to give a sweetheart deal to the Sweet Water Foundation.

13 Responses to The saga of Sweet Water “Organics” continues (VIDEO)

  1. John Casper says:

    Thanks for staying on top of this.

  2. Jesse says:

    Quite vindicating for all of the former staff who left disenchanted and unpaid in 2011 -people who were dismissed by Sweet Water as “disgruntled employees”. Now the consultant they brought in with city money to fix SW sings a similar song … very telling.

    And the lying, wow. If the SWFoundation (which according to it’s own roster includes several key members from the now insolvent SWOrganics) has so many great things going for it, things they are currently trying to sell the city on, why the need to lie?

  3. toddf says:

    BTW, I saw something that the Sweet Water Foundation was setting up something down in Chicago. I wonder if they’ll try the same game on that city.

  4. Jesse says:

    Emmanuel Pratt is the one in charge of the SWFoundation’s efforts in Chicago.

  5. John Casper says:

    Zach, in case you’re interested, two links to an Ohio company raising Black Soldier Flies as a feed stock for aquaponics, aquaculture and livestock.



    For contrast, I included a link to the youtube, “Calculating Paddock Size.”


    1,500 lbs of dry forage will feed 50 dairy cows for 1 day. Based on they youtube, In spring, you can get that in about eighteen days from an acre and a quarter. It takes longer during other times of the year.

    EnviroFlight claims they can generate 15% of that 1,500 lbs in a 3-foot-by-5-foot-space in twelve days.

    It’s not clear to me that EnviroFlight feed is a one-to-one replacement for livestock. Might have too much protein.

    Apologies if not helpful. Thanks for all the great work.

  6. Bob Segraves says:

    It is sad that the management at SW sullied the name “Organics” for the rest of us struggling to make it work and make a profit on a small scale. Does anyone know the fate of the WE assets? Also, has anyone had a heart to heart with the Mayor of Chicago?

  7. TCLynx says:

    John, that is kinda a threadJacking isn’t it? Pretty off topic as far as I can tell. Not that I’m not interested but perhaps you should write your own article about it rather than posting to a somewhat unrelated topic.

    Note I say somewhat. Many people doing Aquaponics are interested in BSF larva production. Unfortunately BSF larva are not a complete feed replacement for any type of fish either, they are too high in FAT.

    Also make note, if you are going to produce 225 lbs of larva in a 3′ by 5′ space every 12 days, you probably need to be feeding that larva bin at least 300 lbs of something in that time span and also be removing the excess larva poo. The beauty of growing grass to feed cows is that in the right climate and season with good soil, you don’t have to do much but deal with the rotational grazing and providing water, fencing and protection for the animals.
    Polyface farms does that rather well.

  8. John Casper says:

    TC, how great to hear from you.

    How are your ducks doing?

    • TCLynx says:

      Ducks are well, at least the adults. The new farm with it’s resident hawks and owls make it a bit harder to get the ducklings through the “oh look a snack” stage.

      • John Casper says:

        Wondering if you’ve ever heard of the “The Power of Duck,” http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0908228120 .

        Also interested in why you’re selling the Zip Grow Towers.


        Bright Agrotech recommends them, wondering if you agree with their assessment.

        • TCLynx says:

          nope haven’t read that book at least not yet. (not much time for reading lately)

          As for the Zipgrow, I’m still using them, I just can’t use as many in my operation because I’m not growing in a climate controlled facility and the temperature swings were too BIG with so many zipgrow towers on the one system. Each growing situation is going to be different and the growing methods need to be carefully matched to the situation. In a facility where the space and light are at a premium and heating of the water/air is being done anyway the towers make a lot of sense. However, I’m in the sub tropics and I have lots of space and high angle sun so spreading out is more appropriate an less problematic with temperature. So I have reduced the number of towers and increased the amount of water I’m running on the big system until my temperature swings came into a comfortable range for my fish. Also, the type of growing method needs to be suited to the product or crop being sold. I sell a fair bit of living lettuce, that crop has to be grown either in NFT or rafts since you can’t reliably pull the rooted plant out of the towers or media beds. I choose raft since it is more temperature stable for my climate and situation. I also sell large amounts of cut and come again products like collard greens, swiss chard, celery, and of course lots of Kale. Those plants for continual harvest have done best for me in media beds. This first year of the new farm has been to learn what will grow best and how as well as what I have a market for. I will expand the things that are most cost effective to grow in the most labor effective ways.

          I still like the towers but only for certain crops/products and in my climate, only in limited quantities per amount of system water.

        • Interesting side note….John’s comment was the 48,000th comment here on Blogging Blue.

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