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Meet the Team behind Straw Hat Aquaponics

Our story

Friends all growing up and residing in North Saint Louis County, Straw Hat Aquaponics is comprised of owners with a great appreciation for the local community. Organized in July of 2014, the owners of Straw Hat Aquaponics, LLC have spent the last year researching and training to bring a scalable, commercial aquaponics farm to the City of Ferguson, MO. Straw Hat Aquaponics is committed to giving back to the community through fresh food donations to local food pantries and shelters, and collaboration with nonprofits and schools.

Thomas Bortz:

A regular patron of Downtown Ferguson, Tom is more likely to be mistaken for a farmer than a scientist with his robust beard and friendly demeanor. But make no mistake Tom is a molecular biologist with many years of experience working in greenhouse and growth chamber settings. He brings this expertise to Straw Hat Aquaponics to oversee quality control as well as research and development.

Timothy Hydar:

As long as Tim can recall his family has enjoyed backyard gardening. Nothing tastes better to Tim than a homegrown tomato, or his favorite the garden bean. His love of fresh produce paired with 10+ years of high efficiency operations management experience makes Tim a vital addition to the team. Tim oversees the logistics and operations of Straw Hat Aquaponics, and ensures a high quality product yield while minimizing resource inputs such as water, energy, and labor.

JP Knobloch:

Growing up with a garden of tomatoes, peppers, and summer squash, JP Knobloch ran a road-side vegetable stand with the help of his father and grandparents on the corner of Washington and Alpha in Florissant, MO until he was twelve. JP brings his passion for local food and expertise as a CPA in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to the financial and administrative oversight of Straw Hat Aquaponics.

Rick Evers:

Rick has had a love of produce ever since working in a local market's produce department for 5 years while in high school and college. He also received a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. He has combined those two with his interest in social media to become our external media manager.

Daniel Bortz:

Growing up with Tom Bortz, Daniel from a young age has been interested in biology, reading books and studying plants. He is fascinated with the boost in nutrients in Aquaponic based veggies. Daniel created this website and oversees all Information Technology.

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