Shrimp farm makes new use of Ridgeway Elementary School - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Shrimp farm makes new use of Ridgeway Elementary School

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RIDGEWAY (KWWL) -

Drive through northeastern Iowa, and you'll see corn and bean fields that stretch for miles. You'll also see your fair share of cattle. But there's a new farm in town -- and it's not one you'd expect so far from the coast.

Sherlock Shrimp's pools of shrimp now sit where rows of desk once were at Ridgeway Elementary School.

Jeff Ryan says he saw an article one day about a shrimp farm, and passed it along to his wife. After a couple days of research, they decided to move forward, and now run their own shrimp farm.

It just so happens that the city didn't know what to do with Ridgeway's old school building, so he decided it would be the perfect spot for his business.

"I got to take a look at the building, and I realized it really didn't look a whole lot different then when I walked in for kindergarten 40 years ago," he said.

The couple had some shrimp knowledge, but say they're still learning new things everyday.

"What most people don't realize is it's not just a matter of having a couple of fish in a tank at home -- there's a whole lot more chemistry and science involved then you might realize," he said.

One of their employees, Josh Meyer, is in the same boat. He calls himself an "amateur-expert" in the shrimp business.

"There's so much out there that I still gotta read, experience," Meyer said. "I mean, this is kind of our first year, we're near the end of our first, we've only had shrimp for so many months, so everyday it's still a learning process."

The business itself is about a month old now, and Ryan says they sell out pretty much every week.

"We've had a lot of demand from people," he said. "The minute that they found out they can have a locally-grown, fresh seafood product, those of us in the Midwest just don't have access to that kind of product at an affordable price."

They sell the shrimp for $20 per pound.

And the name?  Well, it's a clever nod to the building's history -- "Sherlock Shrimp. Elementary, My Dear."

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