River City Aquaponics: Changing the way produce is grown in Kentucky

Jan 20th, 2022

Can you imagine a place with no more stale kale? A place where the lettuce you just bought from the grocery store doesn’t start turning brown one day later? This isn’t some futuristic dream. The time is now—thanks to the revolutionary technology used by Scott Rizzo, co-owner of River City Aquaponics.

By partnering with Market Wagon, Scott can reach a much larger group of people who are interested in high-quality ingredients and food. And because he has the flexibility to set his own prices, it’s a much more sustainable revenue source, helping him weather the pandemic.

River City Aquaponics began in late 2019 in Shelbyville, Kentucky. Not only are no pesticides or fertilizers needed in the process, there’s not even soil required to grow fresh and tender produce. Scott even takes the health standards one step further by making sure all its vegetables and herbs are “Certified Naturally Grown,” a standard which is based on the highest ideals of the organic movement.

Aquaponics is a technology that combines aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) to grow both vegetables and fish in a chemical-free and soil-free environment. The process should not be confused with hydroponics where chemicals are often used to encourage plant growth. Scott’s 100% commitment to aquaponics means no chemicals are allowed to come near his produce.

Aquaponics harnesses nutrients which are natural byproducts of fish. Healthy bacteria converts the nutrients into nitrates, which are watered to feed the plants and help them grow.

River City products like dwarf romaine lettuce are harvested within 24 hours of arriving on your doorstep, without risks of salmonella or E. coli. Scott promises his products will stay fresh at least 2 weeks in your refrigerator, if not 3 or 4 weeks.

Despite having a veterinarian training background, Scot came across aquaponics on a personal level six years ago when learning about the future of farming. Since then, his wife has joined in the mission to bring aquaponics to your kitchen.

River City joined Market Wagon more than a year ago. The online platform has helped the business reach a wider market of individuals in both the Lexington and Louisville areas who want to eat better. Being able to sell his leafy greens at retail price allows Scott to have a more sustainable business model.

For a small operation like River City, it’s all about utilizing resources efficiently. By having one delivery point, once a week, the time commitment for Market Wagon is minimal compared to dropping lettuce off at a dozen restaurants across the Lexington metro area.

“Market Wagon is different from other farm delivery services or wholesales,” Scott said. “River City Aquaponics has never been successful with those other services because the prices we sell at are not a sustainable margin for us.”

Scott recommends his crisp leaf lettuce for your everyday salad and vegetable needs. The lettuce is crisp, sweet, and juicy without the bitterness typical of grocery shelves. For those interested in heartier greens, River City Aquaponics also offers kale and Swiss chard to elevate your meals.