Shadyside Nursery lies in the shadow of an auto-detailing shop just off Ellsworth Avenue, in Shadyside. The brainchild of brothers Mike Georges and Bill Brittain, the nursery -- which opened in early May and should be fully operational in the coming weeks -- features vegetable and flower seedlings, along with herbs. But the centerpiece of the operation is the aquaponics.
Last week, the greenhouse that will hold the aquaponics system (which combines hydroponic agriculture and the growing of fish) was under construction; when completed, it will hold about 5,000 gallons of water and 2,500 fish. A smaller apparatus was set up, holding what Brittain described as "about 150" tilapia, "give or take, because people have been buying some."
The brothers grow worms that feed on plant-based waste material contributed by Spak Brothers, the Garfield pizzeria. The fish eat the worms. The fish waste is composted for fertilizing plants, and as the water circulates in the system, it feeds the hydroponic plants (lettuce, peppers, basil).
Not bad for an idea cooked up only months ago by two brothers who had previously been selling Christmas trees and doing odd jobs.
The brothers say chefs have already been in touch about the herbs and fish, and they're content right now selling the tilapia individually (to chefs and walk-up customers) rather than wholesale.
And how much does a live tilapia cost the small-scale walk-up buyer?
"Depends," says Brittain with a shrug. "Whatever somebody wants to offer."
510 Maryland Ave., Shadyside. 412-363-5845 or firstname.lastname@example.org