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Fish farm owner angling for a buyer

Farmer hopes to sell venture but is prepared to retire it if no one steps forward


MENOMONIE — Herby Radmann’s fish tale could end next month as he casts a final net to see if there is interest in someone buying his farm venture.

Radmann started Bullfrog Fish Farm, known for its Eat My Fish slogan, in March 1994 after discovering in the late 1980s the plentiful and pure water resources under a then farm field.

Since last spring Radmann has been scouting for a new farmer, family or cooperative that is the right fit to move the fish farm into the future.

He plans to continue the search through this month, but if no one or group is found he plans to begin the process of retiring Bullfrog Fish Farm in April.

“The farm is a very unique venture,” Radmann said. “It’s going to take a unique person to come in and do this.”

With a fishing pond inviting people to fish during warmer months, a social area that serves hobo chef dinners to visitors and hosts area musicians, and a retail market for rainbow trout, Bullfrog Fish Farm has been a mainstay of the area for years. Radmann also provided educational tours to area students and other groups to talk about being a small farmer, local food producer and about how a fish farm operates.

“Sometimes you retire a dream. Sometimes you pass it on to the next generation,” Radmann said. “The farm always has been more than about money. It’s about a rural tradition.

“The idea of the fish farm for sale has been very difficult for me,” Radmann said. “More than ever I’m ready.”

Last week, Radmann took about 22 agriculture students from Neillsville High School on a tour of the farm, showing them how the trout are raised over two years using cold, clear water pumped through the tanks.

He explained trout from the farm can be found at the Menomonie Market Co-op and Marketplace Foods in Menomonie, and Just Local Foods and Festival Foods in Eau Claire. It is also served at Zanzibar Restaurant in Menomonie.

Trout is sold both fresh and smoked.

He told the students that Bullfrog Fish Farm grew out of the need for small farmers like him to diversify.

“It’s a challenge,” he told the students of operating the fish farm, noting he believes the growth in the local food market will help smaller farmers.

The farm produces about 15,000 pounds of live weight fish a year.

Amy Gerhardt, the agriculture teacher at Neillsville High School, has brought classes to Bullfrog Fish Farm the past decade after meeting Radmann at an aquaculture conference.

“I think that would be a tragedy,” she said if Radmann must retire the farm. “People want to know where their food comes from and where it was raised.”

Radmann, 67, said he has accepted the farm may retire and would have to sell off the fish stock. However, he holds out hope there may be still be interest to continue it. He and production manager David Sundal would be available to help those who may buy it. Sundal has been with the fish farm since 2000 and also wants to pursue a new challenge.

On the farm’s website, the 21.3 acres that include the business has a price of $350,000.

To find out more about buying in or buying up Bullfrog Fish Farm visit eatmyfish.com.

Radmann, who is married to wife, Vicki, plans to continue to be a small farm advocate and wants to educate people about the importance of them.

“It has been a very positive experience,” he said of starting and running Bullfrog Fish Farm. “We have had a lot of good times here.”

Contact: 715-556-9018, pamela.powers@ecpc.com, @MenomonieBureau on Twitter



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