NEBRASKA CITY — The Nebraska City Council has approved a repayable economic development loan for a new Nebraska City business that plans to harmonize fish farming with vegetable production.

Keil VanderVeen and Brad Moyer plan to produce 3,000 pounds of freshwater Atlantic salmon per month and use aquaculture waste as nutrients to grow about 1,200 cold-water plants per week, including vegetables leafy greens, lettuces, kale and chard.

VanderVeen says the Growth Fund loan shows the city supports people who want to do something innovative. He said Nebraska Vegetable & Protein will be the first in Nebraska.

VanderVeen: “We’re the only one doing Atlantic salmon, we’re only one of two in the United States that know we do Atlantic salmon, and two, our scale is significantly larger than most of the others.”

Moyer said he was considering fish farming in local ponds when VanderVeen called on the potential for a 100,000 gallon or larger water recirculation system. Trying to learn more about fish production, they visited a system in California that raises fish, but primarily for crop production.

Moyer said Nebraskanians should have better food security.

VanderVeen: “The facility itself is approximately 8,400 square feet. That’s a pretty small footprint for something that produces so much food.

VanderVeen: “Your seafood rarely comes from the United States. There’s no reason we can’t grow high-quality food here.”

He said the average head of lettuce is grown 5,000 miles from grocery stores in Nebraska.

Moyer: “In a country like the United States, it just makes more sense. We should produce more of our own homegrown food. California is the number one commodity in USDA agricultural commodities and Iowa is number two, Nebraska should be number three.

The company plans to employ two people full-time and receive loan forgiveness of $10,000 for every $50,000 in payroll.