Scenic Valley Perch
Scenic Valley Perch is owned and operated by Dick and Tami Hallam and our two sons, Derrick and Dean. We never meant to start a fish farm and if you would have told us five years ago we would be where we are today, we would have laughed at the idea. It all started when a sweet friend of mine developed cancer and I wanted to grow fresh, organic vegetables year round for her. We live in Wisconsin, so growing food outdoors all year was not an option. I started researching alternatives and came across the idea to grow food in a walipini (an underground greenhouse). I had some experience keeping fish from my aquarium hobby and partly because of that, opted for using aquaponics as the method to grow food for her. My husband and I constructed the walipini and the aquaponic system inside of it. Soon after, I set out to purchase my first yellow perch fingerlings. It was then that I met Bill West from Blue Iris Fish Farm. I went to pick up my fish and we sat down and talked for hours about perch and aquaponics and fish farming. He opened my eyes to a world I didn't even know existed and I absolutely loved seeing all the fish in his ponds and tanks. I happily returned home with my 300 baby fish and proceeded to make pets out of them. I still have 25 of the original 300 that I just can't bear to part with.
Sadly, Debbie lost her fight and passed away just before Christmas in 2017 and I decided that I enjoyed the fish much more than I thought I would and started to enjoy growing vegetables less, so we tore out the aquaponics system to make room for more fish. We had an old abandoned manure pit on our property and Bill, always the visionary, suggested that we fill it with water and raise perch in it. We put our first eggs in the pit-turned-pond in the spring of 2018. In the fall, we seined out net-full after net-full of the fattest, prettiest perch fingerlings I've ever seen. That was it for me. I was hooked and my husband and I decided that we would try to make a career out of this part of agriculture we had previously never given any thought to.
We are now in the process of converting our dairy barn into an indoor flow through system and plan on growing around 500,000 perch in the coming year and to continue to grow from there. I have two very wonderful people to thank for this journey. The sweet and beautiful Debbie, who brought joy to everyone who knew her and my dear friend, Bill, who has been there with us every step of the way and who is always challenging me to think bigger and do better.
We're getting this area ready for four new tanks to be put in the spring of 2019.
UPDATE: This area has been completed! It now holds five low-profile tanks which house 7000 perch fingerlings.