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.
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.