NEBRASKA CITY – The Nebraska City City Council approved a forgivable economic development loan for a new Nebraska City business that plans to harmonize fish farming with vegetable production.

Keil VanderVeen and Brad Moyer plan to produce 3,000 pounds of freshwater Atlantic salmon per month and use aquaculture waste for nutrients to grow about 1,200 cool-water plants per week, including leafy green vegetables, lettuces, kale and chard.

VanderVeen says the Growth Fund loan shows the city supports people who want to do something innovative. He said Nebraska Vegetable & Protein will be the first in Nebraska.

VanderVeen: “We’re the only one doing Atlantic salmon, we’re only one of two in the U.S. that we’re aware of doing Atlantic salmon, and secondly, the scale of ours is significantly larger than most of the others.”

Moyer said he had been considering fish farming at local ponds when VanderVeen called about the potential for a re-circulating water system of 100,000 gallons or more. Trying to learn more about fish production, they visited a system in California that raises fish, but primarily for the purpose of plant production.

Moyer said Nebraskans should have better food security.

VanderVeen: “The facility itself is about 8,400 square feet. That’s a pretty small footprint for something that produces that much in food.”

VanderVeen: “Your seafood rarely comes from the U.S. There’s no reason we can’t grow high quality food here.”

He said the average head of lettuce is grown 5,000-miles away from Nebraska grocery stores.

Moyer: “In a country like the United States, it just makes more sense. We should be producing more of our own home-grown food. California is the number one produce of USDA agriculture products and Iowa is number two, Nebraska should be number three.”

The company plans to employ two full-time people and qualify for $10,000 in loan forgiveness for every $50,000 in payroll.