Aquaponics – Green Acre Aquaponics, one of the first commercial aquaponic farms, is a now six year established small farm business in Brooksville, Florida. Many years ago, when the construction industry started to wane and their long time successful, multi-trade contracting firm began to be affected, the Green Acre duo knew they had to go in a different direction. That is when they looked to Aquaponics for an answer.
“I remember sitting in the kitchen in tears as we made decisions to lay off many of the staff of our contracting firm”, says Gina Cavaliero, now the CEO of Green Acre. It had nearly sickened me to make business decisions that were good for our business and bad for the people that had helped make it the success it was. I had looked at Tonya and said, “If I thought we could make a living growing veggies and fish, that’s what we would do!” So in the summer of 2009, with the construction and housing market taking a beating and the outlook was dismal, we began dreaming up our farm concept and business.
We had recently been introduced to Aquaponics at a nearby non-profit, whose mission was to solve world hunger with Aquaponics. However the founder there was doubtful that Aquaponics was commercially viable. That just didn’t make sense to us. Somehow we knew that Aquaponics had to be. So, we scrutinized the Aquaponic growing methods, we researched the market and we compared it to conventional farming and we kept coming up with the same answers. When comparing overhead side by side for growing the same crops in the ground and in the water aquaponically, the costs on the conventional side outweighed that on the Aquaponics side.
We drew our own conclusions and armed with optimism and a pioneering spirit, we started to put together plans to create an aquaponic farm. Tonya and I soon broke ground on the Green Acre farm early in 2010. Our extensive construction background made the development easy and with some help here and there, the farm slowly grew into a reality.
Years later, Green Acre is a multifaceted company offering aquaponic produce, aquaponic education and consulting and a robust selection of Organic food. Along with farming aquaponically, we discovered there was a great need to bring more clean food to our community and do that with our Harvest For You program. We make life simple and eating clean easy.
We invite you to join us; whether it be for just a tour, to eat clean from our fine selection, to learn how to garden with aquaponics or if you want to farm like us and feed a community. There’s many ways to join our Farm Revolution and we hope you do.
That’s who we are at Green Acre Aquaponics.
A little more about the founders…
Gina Cavaliero studied Anthropology and Education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science in 1995. Her long time interest in Southwest American Indians was her focus for her collegiate studies and led her to reside in Phoenix, Arizona where she met Tonya Penick. At that time Tonya was an expert custom furniture finisher, where she perfected finishes on high end pieces, some valued at over a $100,000. While in the Southwest, Gina pursued positions with various Indian tribes and the BIA where she might utilize her degree specializing in Southwest American Indians and education.
Upon relocating to Florida the two began a small residential painting business. As housing boomed, the business partners built the one time small paint company into a multi-million dollar contracting firm, providing services from drywall, to stucco, framing, and insulation. When housing began to dwindle, the duo nimbly transformed the company into a commercial and multi-family provider. Since transitioning out of construction, both have pursued other interests and goals.
Gina has a couple passions in addition to aquaponics. One is bodybuilding and is an NPC Physique athlete and competitor. She aspires to become a professional bodybuilder and fitness motivational figure and speaker. Gina’s other passion is her horses; Juju, a twelve year old Percheron/Quarterhorse cross and Lil’ Bit, an Appaloosa mini. Both of which were rescues.
For Tonya, the sky beckons. She is an avid skydiver and plans to become a powered paraglider pilot and guide. Tonya also has a creative side and is developing an Organic skincare line. Both love animals of all kinds and often rescue and rehabilitate strays that come their way. Each have beloved Weimeraner dogs, Beau and Dutchie plus Black Kitty, Orange Kitty and Grey Kitty(their real names!) many chickens and of course countless fish.