St. Stephen aquaponics farm to target medical cannabis market

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The owner of a proposed aquaponics farm in St. Stephen is hoping to start growing medical cannabis this year.

The business was announced in 2016, but at the time, Tanner Stewart had planned to grow "leafy green produce," along with farming fish.

As the demand for medical cannabis increased, so did Stewart's vision for his business.

He said he saw a need for organically grown, sustainable cannabis.

"So I pivoted into a cannabis crop," Stewart said.

How the farm works

Stewart's aquaponics farm has a system that sees fish tanks and plants being farmed in the same facility.

Stewart will be farming tilapia but use the water from the tanks to water the cannabis.

The fish-tank water will contain waste from the fish, which will be fertilizer for the cannabis.

The cannabis, in turn, will clean the water by absorbing the fish waste. The clean water can then be reused in the fish tanks.

"You're creating an ecosystem essentially," Stewart said.

"It's plants and animals living together in an ecosystem providing what they need to each other."

Country-wide market

By choosing medicinal cannabis instead of recreational cannabis, his company's target market is the entire country since it will be selling directly to the consumer, he said.

If approved by Health Canada, which can only happen after renovations are completed, Stewart's farm will be the second medical cannabis operation in St. Stephen, alongside Tidal Health Solutions.

Stewart said the thing that will separate the two will be his choice to grow organically.

"I don't believe that there should be any herbicides, pesticides or synthetic nutrients in the plant growth process," said Stewart.

Stewart said he hopes that after construction is completed, his operation will be able to produce 12,000 kilograms of cannabis per year.

Stewart hopes to be licensed to cultivate the drug by mid-year.

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