Clay County business J&L Wholesale is one recipient of the Tennessee Agriculture Enterprise Fund grant to aid in their work in aquaculture.
Aquaculture is a form of farming in water, and helps fisheries create healthier habitats and to restock supply of fish. Owner Whitney Wilhelm said the grant would ease issues her bait and tackle business has had with suppliers.
“The farms that raise all of our minnows and our catfish, tilapia, that sort of thing–they have more demand than they can supply, so on our end, we’re trying to solve that problem,” Wilhelm said. “We are trying to start spawning out some of our own fish and raising them.”
Wilhelm said the grant is one step forward into expanding her business. She said she plans to use the money to purchase additional fish, a backup generator to maintain pond temperature, and blower to ensure oxygen gets to the fish’s tank.
Wilhelm said there the biggest concern when it comes to pond-stocking is vegetation like duckweed and moss at the top of the pond. In order to take care of that without using harsh chemicals, Wilhelm said that the two best things are grass carp and tilapia.
“Tilapia being a preference, just because they have a lot more benefits,” Wilhelm said. “They’ll actually take care of duckweed and then also the tilapia spawn every 21 days, so the babies that they hatch are put into your pond where the other fish in your pond–your bass, your catfish–can feed and so they can actually grow.”
J&L Wholesale is a Kentucky-based company that expanded to a location in Celina just last year.
The AEF grant was a total of $951,000 dispersed to 28 agricultural, food and forestry businesses, including one other Clay County meat-processing business. Wilhelm said that while she is unsure of other details, their grant came out to be some $10,000 with a 25 percent cost-share.