Former Sherrill Manufacturing site becomes Aqua Vita Farms

By WKTV News

SHERRILL, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Whitesboro native says he loves Central New York and wants to stay here. So, when he couldn't find a job, he made his own.

Mark Doherty has transformed the former Sherrill Manufacturing site into an indoor ecosystem called Aqua Vita Farms.

"I know there is a market for organic produce," Doherty said. "I know we cant grow it here year round.....I started to put the ideas together in my head."

What Doherty came up with is straight out of a movie script - a process called Aqua ponics.

"We grow fish in tanks, use the nutrified water from the fish tanks to grow our lettuce and herbs," Doherty said. "By doing so, we're not introducing fertilizer, pesticides. There is a definite harmony between the plants and fish. If the fish are unhappy, the plants are unhappy...and vice versa, and we know very quickly when the balance is not there."

Aqua Vita Farms received $20,000 from the Oneida County Micro-enterprise Grant Program and a $200,000 loan from the USDA for this leap of faith.

"Small business and innovation has always been the secret to this country's success," said Congressman Richard Hanna. "Here is a great example. Simple product, complex process. He put a plan together and here he is."

Aqua Vita Farms employs three people as of now.

If you're wondering what the product tastes like, you can find out by having a bite to eat at area restaurants such as Nola's, The Willows, Nail Creek Pub, the Yahnundasis, and Aqua Vino, all of which purchase product from Aqua Vita Farms.

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