EV drivers can now plug in at Urbana fish farm


URBANA — Electric vehicle owners have a new place to stop and recharge in Champaign County: Freshwater Farms of Ohio, one of the area’s top attractions for tourists and locals.

Freshwater Farms, at 2624 U.S. 68, a mile north of Urbana, recently installed a Level 2 charging station with 50-amp, 220-volt service for Tesla and other EV brands equipped with a standard J1772 connector plug.

The station is available free of charge during the farm’s business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

“Since our beginning in 1986, we’ve been big proponents of innovation in aquaculture and eco-friendly technology,” said Dr. David Smith, president of Freshwater Farms.

The farm, one of the state’s largest indoor fish hatcheries, conserves water with a recirculating aquaculture system designed by Smith, and grows trout and other fish with sustainable plant-based feeds.

“We installed the charging station for the convenience of our customers. Many of them drive one to three hours to visit us,” Smith said.

Many come for the farm’s market, which features a wide selection of seafood, local specialty food products, wines and beers. The farm also sells fountains and fish to stock ponds. Families come for the farm’s aquatic animal displays, sturgeon petting zoo, and a chance to feed trout and enjoy the surrounding beauty of the countryside, including the farm’s wildflowers.

The farm also hosts special events. This includes the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival, where on three September Saturdays guests dine outdoors on seafood and other fare from an array of vendors while listening to a wide variety of live music.

Next on the farm’s green technology agenda, Smith said, will be installing solar panels on the south-facing roofs of its buildings to generate an estimated 80 percent of the farm’s electrical needs.

“Eventually, we plan to add more solar panels that will meet or exceed our total electrical usage, and the day may come when we’ll have storage batteries to back up our essential systems during power failures, without having to use gasoline-powered generators.”

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