A local woman pursues duckweed farming

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Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Justin Jones

DUBLIN, Ky—It is a small flowering plant with a funny name. It packs enough protein to rival soybeans, but produces eight times more protein per acre. It is called duckweed.

 

Tamra Fakhoorian runs one of the only duckweed production facilities in the country. "Close your eyes and picture a beautiful blue pond, just substitute the color bright emerald green," said Fakhoorian as she was describing what the pond looks like.

For a little over a year, Fakhoorian has been working to turn this pond into a different shade of color. "This is probably one of the country's first dedicated commercial duckweed farms," said Fakhoorian.

Duckweed is the smallest known plant on the planet. But, Fakhoorian said its purpose is not only for the lovely, green scenery.

"I counted over 80 different uses for it...You can grow it in a low tech setting like I am or harvest it wild and feed it to your hogs, cattle & smaller animals," said Fakhoorian.

Though it is paying off, Fakhoorian said the duckweed farming process has not been easy. "Every road block I hit, it gave me an opportunity to learn so much more. Boy, I feel good," said Fakhoorian.

She said duckweed farming has endless opportunities that she will continue to pursue. Her next step is to find how humans can benefit from duckweed.

"What we're looking for as far as research work goes is that we can take this protein and modify it where it's great for human consumption," said Fakhoorian.

It has been a journey, but Fakhoorian said it is all worth it. "I love the color green... I've proven to myself if I can do it, anybody can do it," said Fakhoorian.

Fakhoorian said people do eat duckweed in other countries for protein. She said it is common to see duckweed in salads, soups and stews.

If you'd like to learn more, click here to visit Fakhoorian's blog.

 

 

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