Dr. Blackwood was born in Burlington, North Carolina in 1949. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 1980 with a undergraduate degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Dr. Blackwood served seven years active duty military (USMC and USN) and has been a practicing child psychologist for 35 years. He is married and a father of five children.

Dr. Blackwood started fish farming when he and his family moved to Farmville, Virginia in 1999 raising channel catfish and rainbow trout. His decision to start fish farming was based on reports of increasing pollution in Virginia waterways and rising demand. In 2004, he started the fish farming cooperative concept with focus on sustainable production.

Conference Session: Freshwater Aqua-farming in Virginia – Done Responsibly

This session will present the formation and evolution of the Virginia Aqua-Farmers Network, LLC (VAN) and cover the production, processing, and marketing practices and strategies used by this group of aqua-farmers over the last decade. This company has gone through a number of changes as it currently moves toward the development of ready-to-eat (RTE) recipes using the four freshwater products raised by the farmers- channel catfish, rainbow trout, hybrid striped bass, and freshwater shrimp. All products are currently marketed under the brand, Virginia Natural Fish Company. VAN’s development represents an attempt to create a sustainable freshwater aquaculture industry in the region and has been supported through the years by a number of state and federal agencies and by several prominent Virginia universities.



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