Building housing Sweet Water “Organics” up for lease

As reported by Katherine Keller of the Bay View Compass, the building that currently houses troubled aquaponics operation Sweet Water “Organics” is up for lease.

Commercial Realty Advisors, LLC has listed the space occupied by Sweet Water Organics, 2151 S. Robinson Avenue for lease.  Described as ideal for light distribution, industrial service, or manufacturing the listing includes 9,000 square feet of office and warehouse space. It is listed at $3.50 per SF NNN. The property is owned by Steven Lindner, whose Milwaukee rental-property company, Big Whale, LLC filed Chapter 11 in 2011.

When queried about whether or not Sweet Water will continue to operate in a different location or close down their sprouts, compost, and fish production operation District 14 Zielinski said, “The only thing I can say right now is that we’re looking at the options. The city is working on a number of different options. One would be to have Sweet Water Foundation operate at the same location,” he said.”

This news certainly can’t bode well for the continued viability of Sweet Water.


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8 thoughts on “Building housing Sweet Water “Organics” up for lease

  1. Jim Godsil responded to Compass request for comment/more info today. He said the SWO operation inside the 2151 S Robinson bldg has been defunct since sometime in January of this year. I’m trying to find out what happened to the fish.

    Ald. Zielinski said that the city is looking at options for SWO (farm) and maybe trying to find a way for SWO Foundation to stay in the Robinson building. A few weeks earlier he told me the city may have to look at recouping some of city loan to SWO by selling their equipment but that was worst case scenario. He wants to find a way for SWO to survive/thrive and referenced their pioneering effort, food security threats that urban ad and aquaculture might mitigate, and challenges of a start-up of a project like SWO’s.

  2. Thanks Zach, appreciate you staying on this.

    Be nice if Gov. Walker could take back a few of million in tax breaks he’s already given his campaign donors and use SWO to test the feasibility of approaches that are unique to a water rich environment like Milwaukee. Aquaponics is a big fish tank and anyone who watched NYPD blue knows how much trouble Andy Sipowicz had with his fish tank. I’m sure this is oversimplifying, but it sounds like SWO had too much fish waste. The plants couldn’t absorb enough of the ammonia, other stuff to keep the chemistry of the system healthy for the fish. Milwaukee’s indoor farming can/should be different than other places where water is a lot more expensive/scarce.

    Wisconsin has a long tradition of duck hunting/eating and (wild) rice growing. The url below is about a year old. It’s based on a Japanese book called “The Power of Duck.”

    “Ducks replace paddy-field pesticides:
    Japanese farmers rediscover ancient rice-growing technique that boosts production without the need for chemicals”

    My understanding is that adult ducks eat the rice, so they use baby ducks to “weed and feed” outdoor rice paddies. The baby ducks eat the weeds in the rice paddy and that creates the “fertilizer.”

    They sell duck meat and duck eggs to supplant their income from selling rice.

    Would be interesting to see how much rice you could grow indoors using LED lamps? I’m unfamiliar with rice growing, but I assume like most crops it would grow more quickly with LED’s aka, “grow lights.” If there are not as many weeds growing it indoors, maybe this study looks at just using the duck “waste.” What you feed the ducks is key, because it will end up in the rice. The cost of the LED’s and the electricity to run them is another cost.

    Once locals trusted that the ducks were healthy, they might might be interested in water laced with duck waste for their gardens. My understanding is that ducks love to “fertilize” water, so it might not take many healthy, well feed ducks to consistently “fertilize” a lot of water. Evaluations might include other crops besides rice.

    Rice gives off methane, which is natural gas. Indoors, would there be a way to collect that “biomethane,” in sufficient quantities? Because of “fracking,” the price of natural gas has collapsed and everyone wants it. “Buffett, Berkshire’s BNSF to Test Using Natural Gas on Locomotives” “Natural gas” from sustainable sources, Wisconsin dairy farms are an even better source, should sell for a premium over what gets fracked out of the ground.

    If spread sheet analysis does not disprove these ideas, maybe someone tries to computer model what a system would require. If that “works,” maybe someone would fund a “working prototype,” at SWO.

    1. If marijuana, and growing it were legal, that commercial real estate would be a lot more valuable.

  3. Sweet Water “Organics” has always been an example of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The fundamentals were not there. Simple energy flux calculations were brushed aside. Warnings about toxicity of using PVC instead of HDPE pipe were brushed aside. It’s obvious how money was generated (hint: not from selling fish).

    Just a short time ago Godsil was claiming all was well at the facility. He said, “It’s all good[.] Give me a call next week, and I’ll show you around.”

    And now we should work a way for them to not pay back the city?

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