Thanks to the Michigan Ag Council for inviting me to their All About Trout Blogger event at Harrietta Hills Trout Farm owned by the Vogler family. This is the only fish farm that has been environmentally verified in the state of Michigan!
I will be honest. I didn’t realize that Michigan had trout farms. We are surrounded by water and I just thought people went fishing for fish. But there are actual farms, like Harrietta Hills Trout Farm to help provide fish to stores and restaurants (find their trout sold under the brand Harrietta Hills Trout Farm at a number of Spartan Stores and other retailers in Michigan).
When we arrived, I had to ask, are we here. When you think ‘farm’, you think tall barns, lots of out buildings. The land was flat, a couple buildings and some rectangle ponds (called raceways). You also think fish smell. It didn’t smell like fish.
And while you think you would need a lot of acres to have a Trout Farm, you don’t, your water can be pretty deep and have tons of fish. The farm was built in the early 1950s on 122 acres. Five acres of this is the trout ponds. There are approximately 75,000 fish at their farm. Amazing!
Visiting a Trout Farm
The fish farm doesn’t have fancy equipment, they use an artesian well water flow that is a gravity fed system to move the water through the raceways. It was pretty cool to see the old technology working so well. You don’t have to worry about the power going out and it makes it easier to maintain when you don’t have to worry about machines!
They raise rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. The fish are separated out by size (otherwise big ones eat little ones) They are moved by the Fish mobile, a truck that is insulated (should they need to travel far with the fish). Oxygen is injected into the water so the fish will survive long travel distances.
Because they are in Michigan, their fish grow at a slower rate, giving them a consistent flavor and density.
We did get to eat fresh grilled trout prepared by Dan Vogler (owner of the farm, such a honor. He was our tour guide and our chef). I had not ate fish since I was a kid. It was good and the best healthy fast food you could eat (it doesn’t take long to cook fish).
Trout are not bottom feeders, they survive by eating insects, crustaceans and small fish. They are feed a a fish meal. We got to feed them, they went nuts over it.
If you are going to be in the area, you can call the Vogler’s and arrange a time to bring a cooler and buy fish. They have customers that do that from time to time, you can’t get fresher than that. Check them out!