The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Hitachi Foundation announced local entrepreneurs Kaben and Shelby Smallwood as national finalists for the 2013 Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program for their business Symbiotic Aquaponic.
The brothers presented Symbiotic Aquaponic to the final selection committee on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, D.C.
Finalists for this competitive program are young entrepreneurs whose businesses are in the United States and make a difference by addressing poverty, benefiting low-income individuals and helping communities.
The Smallwood brothers said making a difference is central to their business objectives. Their patent-pending aquaponic design recirculates water to raise fish and fresh produce within the same system.
Using this symbiotic approach, water from the fish habitat provides all the necessary nutrients for growing a variety of plants such as cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, herbs, strawberries and flowers.
As a result, the plants clean the water for the fish. Shelby Smallwood described aquaponic agriculture as an innovative approach to farming.
Aquaponics is 100 percent sustainable, uses less than one-tentth the amount of water required by traditional farming and can provide higher crop yields than traditional farming, he said.
In an aquaponic system, plants have all the water and nutrients they need that eliminates the need for additives, fertilizers or other chemicals.
For the Smallwood brothers and Symbiotic Aquaponic, the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program is a unique opportunity to grow their Norman-based business to reach out to rural and isolated communities.
Awardees selected for the program will receive a $40,000 grant, mentoring, technical aid and leadership development from a community of business leaders and organizations.