Made in Michiana: Hoosier Shrimp Farm

WALKERTON, Ind. -- Northern Indiana and southwest Michigan are well known for their rich soil and rolling acres of corn, soybeans or other grains. Now, one couple wants to put the region on the map for a different type of farming. This month's Made in Michiana is taking you to Hoosier Shrimp Farm in Walkerton, where that couple is raising shrimp in an eco-friendly way in landlocked Indiana.

Hoosier Shrimp Farm operators Jason and Kristen Troike moved to Walkerton from Indianapolis a few years back with the dream of starting a farm.

“We’re in Walkerton because we found this property, this 95 acre property of wonderful farm became available, which has established blueberry bushes, and established raspberry bushes, and all this farm land on it,” Kristen Troike said.

Unfortunately, Jason's failing eyesight and severe allergies would prevent them from a more traditional form of farming, planting and harvesting grain crops. So, they found another way.

“Shrimp is the number one consumed seafood in America. And like I said we love shrimp. And so we toured a farm, took a lot of classes, toured other shrimp farms, came up with a business plan, kind of bada bing, bada boom,” Kristen said.

And just like that, Hoosier Shrimp Farm was born.

“We raise three main phases of shrimp in our barn,” Kristen said.

Jason and Kristen work around the clock to raise and sell their shrimp, flown in right after they hatch from the Florida Keys.

“We pick them up at the South Bend Airport early in the morning and bring them back here, then we try to acclimate the temperature of the bag to the temperature of the nursery tank,” Kristen said.

Around 15,000 shrimp, no bigger than the size of your eyelash, are moved from the bag to a nursery tank.

“It’s a short cycle. It’s about 20-22 days. And they gain a lot of weight.,” Kristen said.

In that short amount of time, those baby shrimp will grow to about an inch, to an inch and a half in size. About 12,000 of those shrimp will live to move onto the intermediate phase, which lasts anywhere from 20 to 60 days.

“I will start pulling shrimp out of that pool maybe about 20-25 days and splitting that pool from 12,000 shrimp stocking my pools with about 4,000 shrimp, so I divide my intermediate phase about three times, stocking my production tanks with about 4,000 shrimp,” Kristen said.

Six months after the shrimp come to the Hoosier Shrimp Farm from the nurseries in Florida, they reach the final stage, the harvesting stage.

“Most of the shrimp we buy from the stores have been frozen. And that’s going to change the make-up of the product. This is fresh, out of the water, right in front of you. And there’s more texture to it. So sweeter taste, and more texture to it.,” Kristen said.

That's not all that make these shrimp a better quality seafood. The Troike's say it's the time they take to test and balance each of their 16 tanks' pH levels each and every day.

“Here we show you exactly what they live in, what they eat, I walk you to the tank, the house they’ve been in since seven days of life and just show you the quality of the product.,” Kristen said.

And as the farm-to-fork movement continues to grow in popularity across the country, Kristen says more people are curious to see that behind-the-scenes process, showing them exactly how their food is raised.

“Our shrimp are on a controlled diet, so they eat a soy bean based pelletized food and that is what they eat. There’s no hormones, there’s no antibiotics, there’s no harsh chemicals being put into their environment,” Kristen said.

That's why the Troike's not only sell live shrimp on location, they also offer educational tours, with an inside look at their eco-friendly tanks.

“We take time with people. If you want to come in and listen to me babble about shrimp, I’m going to talk to you. You’re going to leave here with a lot of knowledge hopefully,” Kristen said.

And they hope, you leave sold on their scrumptious, saltwater shrimp, raised right here in Michiana.

For more information on Hoosier Shrimp Farm, check out their website or Facebook page

If you have a business you would like to see featured in our next Made in Michiana, email us at [email protected].

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