When Curt Harvego got into raising shrimp, he didn't realize how big of a deal it could really be.
Just imagine, there you are, having a home barbecue, and you decide to make some kabobs. Not just any kabobs, though. You're making them from the freshest ingredients available. Fresh-grown Iowa potatoes, peppers and cherry tomatoes pieced between the freshest Iowa beef, pork and shrimp you can find.
Curt Harvego scoops shrimp from the tank. He tries to raise various sizes to there are always market-ready shrimp.
Photo by Michael Tidemann
Curt Harvego has embarked on a venture to provide something that's in very short supply in these parts - fresh shrimp raised right here in the Iowa Heartland.
It was not a business Harvego undertook lightly, though. He did a lot of studying before putting in the four portable swimming pools, each holding 5,000 post-larval shrimp. He stocks different sizes so they mature on a steady basis.
The saltwater-specific shrimp are raised in a specially prepared brine that's exactly like the ocean. It takes 20-30 of the Pacific white shrimp to make a pound, with prices starting at $15 a pound - a bargain if you've priced fresh shrimp. That's actually considered a pretty fair price coming right off the boat on the Coast.
"The more you buy, the cheaper they get," said Harvego, holding up a shrimp with enormous whiskers - a sure sign of good shrimp health.
And those news reports you sometimes hear about seafood contamination from chemicals? Well, not to worry. Harvego grows these little guys in a controlled environment so the customer is assured they're as healthy as can be, with no pollutants or chemicals.
"It's a really healthy way to eat," said Harvego.
Harvego daily tests nitrates, ammonia, dissolved oxygen, pH levels or a measure of acidity or alkalinity, nitrides and salinity.
The zero-discharge system recirculates the water, using air to lift the water so waste is broken down.
"The more times you turn it over, the better the water is," Harvego explained.
Oh, and that pork for those kabobs? Well, the Harvegos can fix you up with that too.
Curt and Laurie's son Thomas obtained an FSA loan for show pigs, and managing his own finances and paying his own bills, raises and sells Berkshires and Crossbreds for FFA and 4-H projects.
"He's got some really outstanding show pigs," said Curt, observing that the top-of-the line show pigs go for $3,000. Crossbreds can run a tenth of that.
The Harvegos can also feed non-GMO grain for customers who want pork for the deep freeze.
Curt pointed out Daisy, a Crossbred that has the definite odor of maple syrup and Tulip and Clover, the Berkshires.
For more on Thomas' venture, go online to harvegoshowpigs.com.