History and Achievements


Nelson and Pade was founded in 1985 as a hydroponics (soilless plant production) company, growing and selling fresh vegetables. In the late 80’s, founders, Rebecca Nelson and John Pade, began offering consulting services and publishing books and videos to fill a need for information on soilless farming methods. In the early 90’s the company saw the potential of aquaponic farming, a natural and sustainable method of growing fish and vegetables year-round, and embarked on a path to develop the science of aquaponics into an industry.

Throughout the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Nelson and Pade provided consulting and aquaponic system design services and published the Aquaponics Journal.

In 2004, Nelson and Pade, still a company operated solely by the founders, manufactured their first complete aquaponic system for a client. Following the shipment of that first system, the company saw increasing sales as more and more orders came in for aquaponic systems.

By 2005, the demand for aquaponic systems of all sizes was growing and Nelson and Pade determined that the growth and success of the budding aquaponics industry would require a supplier of quality, complete, standardized aquaponic systems, training and long-term grower support. Nelson and Pade was perfectly poised to fill this need and motivated to do so.

By 2009, the demand was far outpacing the founder’s ability to manufacture in their current location. As people continued to discover aquaponics, the number of people visiting Nelson and Pade’s website, www.aquaponics.com, steadily increased.

The Company founders evaluated the opportunity and made a clear and calculated plan to grow the company. This plan included establishing a company headquarters for manufacturing, advancing the training programs and hiring staff to help the company meet its mission and goals.

In early 2010, Nelson and Pade moved into new facilities to accommodate the growth of the company.

Continued growth brought more expansion to the Nelson and Pade business campus in Montello in 2014, with the additional of additional manufacturing space and a 14,000 sq. ft. greenhouse and training facility.

Growth, development and success has been steady. Individuals from 110 countries have traveled to the Nelson and Pade business campus to attend training. Nelson and Pade, Inc.’s aquaponic systems are operating in 35 countries.


Innovation Award Winner


Launched Online Courses


  • Launched online Aquaponics Courses
  • Refined, Improved and Streamlined Manufacturing Processes
  • Winner of WEDC “We’re All Innovating” Award
  • Featured on FarmHer TV show
  • Nominated for the ‘Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin Award’
Many Awards and Nominations


  • Winner of Force for Positive Change Award
  • Nominated for the ‘Sustainable Process of the Year’ by the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
  • Nominated for the “Wisconsin Business Friend of the Environment Award’ from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
  • Nominated for the ‘Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin Award’ (and also in 2020)
  • Featured in the Think-Make-Happen ‘In Wisconsin’ Wisconsin Stories
  • Featured on the WI television publication ‘Outdoor Wisconsin’
Multiple Awards


  • December – Awarded and recognized as the ‘Aquaponic Systems Retailer of the Year 2018‘ for the Technology Elite Awards by the U.S. Business News!
  • June – Awarded 2018 WI Sustainable Product of the Year Award by the WI Sustainability Council
  • Crowned: Best Aquaponic Systems Provider— USA
    by the 2018 Clean Energy Awards
  • Crowned: Best Aquaponic Food Production Specialist-Midwest USA
    by the 2018 Clean Energy Awards
Continued Growth


100+ Country Celebration


Increased System Production


  • June 15, 2015 – Announce increased production on all of our patented Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® with ZDEP®
  • April 23-25 – Hosted the Grand Opening of our new, expanded greenhouses facilities and the UWSP-Aquaponics Innovation Center
  • We’ve now had attendees of our Aquaponics Master Class™ from all 50 states and 85 countries, spanning 5 continents
  • Nelson and Pade, Inc.® continues to experience consistent growth and expanding customer base
New Greenhouse and Manufacturing Facilities


  • We are finishing construction on a brand new 14,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art aquaponics greenhouse facility at our Montello campus, a part of which will house the new UW-Stevens Point Aquaponics Innovation Center
  • As of mid-2014, we have had attendees from over 60 countries and 49 US states attend our Aquaponics Master Class!
  • Received “Sustainable Product of the Year” Award for our Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® with ZDEP® from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
  • Granted patent from the USPTO office on the ZDEP® (Zero Discharge/Extra Production) aquaponic system
  • Nominated for Innovative Product of the Year
New Advancements


  • Helped to launch the International Aquaponic Society
  • Expanded our product offerings
  • Had attendees from 4 continents attend our Spring, 2013 Aquaponics Master Class™
  • As of Dec, 2013, we have now had attendees of our Aquaponics Master Class™ from 46 countries and 49 US states
  • Area Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® cover will nearly double by the end of 2013
Co-developed UWSP Aquaponics Program


  • Co-developed the first hybrid University aquaponics course in partnership with UW-Stevens Point
  • Spring, 2012 – Announced new aquaponic systems, options and equipment
Established University Partnerships


  • Increased workshop attendance to nearly 500 people from 23 counties and 48 US states
  • Announced the new ZDEP® aquaponic systems which increases plant production and eliminates waste.
  • Established partnership with UW-Stevens Point to offer University credit to attendees of Nelson and Pade, Inc.® workshops
  • Implemented project with University of Hawaii and Hawaii Dept. of Labor to offer job training and demonstration of Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® in Hawaii
  • Built and shipped Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® to clients in locations including: Trinidad, Mexico, Curacao, Montana, New York, Kansas, Maryland, Idaho, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa and California
Moved to New, Larger Facility


  • 2010 – Built a new 5,000 sq ft demonstration greenhouse
  • Moved into larger facility to accommodate growth
  • Taught aquaponics to over 200 people from 28 states and 12 countries in our workshops and extended stay learning programs
  • Shipped 20 complete Clear Flow Aquaponic Systems® to customers in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia
  • Built, shipped and began the installation of the first Living Food Bank® Aquaponic System in Haiti.
Installed Large Commercial Systems


  • Designed and installed two large commercial aquaponic facilities in Wisconsin (KP Simply Fresh in Baraboo, Future Farm in Baldwin)
  • Resumed our workshops and training (initially started in California in 1997)
  • Welcomed Dr. James Rakocy to our Board of Advisors.
Published First Book on Aquaponics


  • Wrote and published the first comprehensive book on aquaponics, Aquaponic Food Production
  • Began offering complete aquaponic system packages for all applications including commercial, education, home food production and research
  • Installed an aquaponic system at the University of the Virgin Islands.
Relocated Business to Wisconsin


  • Relocated the business to Wisconsin from Mariposa, California.
Custom aquaponic systems


  • Began offering custom aquaponic systems.
Taught Workshops in Australia


  • Taught the first aquaponics workshops in Australia.
Produced Video on Aquaponics


  • Wrote and produced the first video on aquaponics, Aquaponic Food Production, available in English and Spanish.
Installed Large Aquaponic System


  • Planned and assisted in the installation of 1/3 acre aquaponic system in Illinois.
Aquaponic Facility in California


  • Designed and installed a 1/2 acre aquaponic facility in California
  • Wrote and published the booklet Desktop Aquaponics (updated in 2004)
  • Began offering project planning and system design services
  • Continued building and testing various aquaponic systems, research and development.
Aquaponics Curriculum


  • Wrote Aquaponics Curriculum (now used in schools throughout the world); continued aquaponics research.
Controlled Environment Greenhouses


  • Built numerous controlled environment greenhouse using hydroponics, organic hydroponics and aquaponics throughout the United States.
Aquaponics Journal


  • Began publishing the Aquaponics Journal (62 issues published to date)
  • Continued aquaponics research
  • Offered the first aquaponics workshop
  • Wrote and produced the interactive CD-Rom, All About Aquaculture
  • Wrote and published the book set, How to Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business (updated in 2000 and 2004).
Encyclopedia of Hydroponic Gardening


  • Established aquaponics.com website
  • Wrote and produced the interactive CD-Rom, The Encyclopedia of Hydroponic Gardening, wrote and produced the video, Hobby Hydroponics.
California Greenhouses


  • Operated a variety of aquaponic systems in our California greenhouses and raised largemouth bass, catfish, bluegill, koi and fancy goldfish along with a variety of vegetables that were commercially sold.
Transition to Aquaponics


  • Converted 3,000 sq ft hydroponic greenhouse to aquaponics.
Aquaponics Research


  • Began building aquaponic systems, testing design theories in California greenhouses.
2nd Hydroponic Greenhouse


  • Built second controlled environment hydroponic greenhouse.
Commercial Hydroponics


  • Built 5,000 sq ft hydroponic greenhouse; wrote and produced the video, Commercial Hydroponics.
Hydroponics Video


  • Wrote and produced the first video on hydroponics, “Hydroponics: Set Up, Care and Maintenance”; built first 4-bay hydroponic controlled environment greenhouse in Wisconsin.


How long have you been involved in aquaponics and controlled environment agriculture?

In 1984 we assembled our first hydroponic growing system. That same year, we produced a video on hobby hydroponics and were then contracted by a hydroponic supply company to produce a video on commercial hydroponics. During the production of the video, we interviewed hydroponic growers throughout the US who were growing premium products and selling to local markets. This inspired us to build our first large hydroponic, controlled environment greenhouse in California in 1986. In 1987 we built a second commercial hydroponic greenhouse. We were growing hydroponic tomatoes in these greenhouses and were delivering in excess of 50,000 lbs a year, plus some lettuce, basil, chives and other herbs. We liked the efficiency of hydroponics, but knew that the manufactured and mined fertilizers would someday become scarce and that an organic fertilizer in soilless growing system would be the best of both worlds.

In the late 1980’s we began experimenting with small-scale aquaponic systems to explore the relationship between raising fish and plants in an integrated system. In the early 1990’s we dedicated one of our greenhouses to aquaponics research. We built and designed systems for various applications and we raised largemouth bass, crappies, catfish, fancy goldfish and koi, plus a great variety of vegetables crops in these systems. In 1997 we began publishing the Aquaponics Journal® and started redirecting all of our efforts (publishing, consulting, system design) toward aquaponics. During this time period, we were refining our aquaponic systems, selling aquaponically-grown crops, offering workshops and hands-on training in our intern program.

Since the late 1990’s we have worked diligently to create science-based, highly efficient aquaponic systems. In the mid 2000’s we relocated our business to Wisconsin, at which time we began offering standardized aquaponic systems and training for all applications.


Awards, Recognition and Partnerships

The entire Nelson and Pade, Inc.® Team is honored to be recognized by such prestigious organizations and dignitaries.

  • 2021 WI Innovation
    Award Winner
  • 2020 WEDC
    “We’re All Innovating”
    Award Winner
  • 2019 Force for Positive Change Winner
  • Sustainable Product
    of the Year 3-time winner
    from the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, 2014, 2017, 2018
  • Aquaponic Systems
    Retailer of the Year 2018

    for the Technology Elite Awards by the U.S. Business News!
  • 2017 Business Friend of the
    from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce
  • Best Aquaponic Systems
    Provider— USA
    by the 2018 Clean Energy Awards
  • Best Aquaponic
    Food Production Specialist-Midwest USA
    by the 2018 Clean Energy Awards
  • Wisconsin Governor’s
    Export Achievement Award
    (top finalist)

Nominated: The Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin Nominated: Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year


Presented with Citation By The Legislature by WI State Representative Joan Ballweg and WI State Senator Luther Olsen Presented plaque for participation in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporations Made in Wisconsin program

Professional Relationships
University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Partner Certified Naturally Grown, Certified, Member, Super Business Ally
Farm to School Network, Outreach Partner Something Special from Wisconsin, Member
WEDC’s Made in Wisconsin Program, Member Food Tank, Member