The founder of a self-contained agriculture project is preparing to make the modular system available for sale in early 2017, but says it’s already in use in Indiana and around the world. The launch is a big leap for an effort that began as a labor of love by a father for his son.
Like many entrepreneurs, ECSIA CEO and founder Glynn Barber is understandably passionate about his project. But the Air Force veteran and former owner of a tool and die shop is clear that his motivation was getting one of his children moved off of pharmaceutical medications and back to edible micronutrients. Several years after beginning his research, he’s developed a self-contained system that’s already growing food and fish from Haiti to Africa to East Chicago.
ECSIA (pronounced ess-EYE-uh) stands for Environmentally Controlled Sustainable Integrated Agriculture. The system’s design uses recirculated water from the fish-growing portion of the operation to produce organic fruits and vegetables in a very short time frame. ESCIA is constructed in modular sections so that an individual system can be easily expanded or reduced. The company has developed modules it says are suitable for locales such as schools and homesteads up to large commercial operations. Barber says that unlike traditional aquaponics systems that might require 8,000 pounds of tilapia to grow 8,000 pounds of produce, the ECSIA system has proven to be much more efficient.
“What you’ll see with ECSIA is that it’s really commercial agriculture, not aquaponics. We have several customers around the globe that are taking 250 pounds of fish annually and growing between 16,000 and 20,000 pounds of produce.”
Barber adds the modular system’s “plug and play” feature has generated interest in agricultural lending.
“We have the only aquaculture equipment that is considered equipment, and lendable banks are looking at this to lend on it like you would a John Deere tractor. And it’s energy-efficient, running on seven amps of power, continuous.”
In an effort to keep production of all the parts of the ECSIA system as Hoosier-centric as possible, Barber notes only two things are manufactured outside Indiana: the system’s pump, which is made in New Jersey, and a clamp that comes through a Michigan vendor that is made in China. He says he’s working hard to re-source the clamp.
The ECSIA system is patent-pending, poised for approval in early 2017 according to Barber. He believes ECSIA has enormous education potential as well and plans to release a K-12 curriculum simultaneously with the commercial launch, likely in January or February. Wapahani High School has been running an ECSIA operation since 2013; the one in Haiti is run by an orphanage. The system has strong support from the Sustainable Communities Institute in Muncie, as well as Ball State University.
Barber is also in the process of finishing the system’s operations manual. He says he’s been reluctant to speed production because, while he can handle inquiries from the 15 or so projects underway around the world now, that will become much more complicated when he’ll have to answer to over 200. He wants the manual to be able to answer most of the questions, anywhere in the world.
In the meantime, Barber has found that his unexpected foray into biology has had some other beneficial consequences, one in particular that could help reduce algal blooms in natural bodies of water. It’s also yielding some potentially profitable applications in the world of traditional farming. 2017 could be a big year for this home-grown company in little Red Key, Indiana.