Clint

Central Texas Small scale commercial operation

62 posts in this topic

 

Hi Clint,

 

Can I suggest that you start your own commercial systems thread?  You're in the small commercial operator category.....and this is a place where many people would like to be.

 

Any information that you might like to share about how your business got started......and how it operates....would be very welcome. 

 

Gary

HI Y'all,

 

I have a small aquaponic farm in Central Texas, pictures and such can be viewed on the website (see link below).  First, I will tell you about the configuration:  32' x 132' high tunnel, shade in summer, single poly in winter, no heat no cooling.  From the 2200 gallon fish tank the water flows continuously  to two 4' x 12' media/worm beds with a Flout (mechanical drain) in each to fill and drain 24/7.  From here the water flows to a 110 gal stock tank (biofilter/clarifier/polisher/whatever you want to call it) rising from the bottom with 3 Matala filters (3 differing densities) and some bird netting then into the first trough of 2000 sq ft (2 - 2' x 100' and 2 - 8' x 100'), where the pump pulls from the last trough back to the fish tank.

 

I germinate in  some nursery stands I have made in the green house when temp permits and otherwise in a heated or cooled room I have, depending on outside temps.  

 

Some back story, I started in aquaponics in May 2012, when I teamed up with a local farmer, bought the FAP DIY manual and built the first high tunnel and system from those designs.  I had some previous experience with aquarium fish and hydroponics, but only at the small hobby level.  I am pretty handy with construction and understanding how most things work so with the help of the internet we were off and running, so to speak.  I learned pretty early on that working for the farmer was not going to be the experience I hoped for so started looking to get my own property and system running.  

 

In June 2013, I moved onto the present property and began building.  With only the occasional help I got the new and improved system up and running with fish going in in early August.  The improvements or some would say and I agree, necessities from the earlier build were the additions of the media/worm bed and the tank filter.  A system without filtration is only asking for anaerobic activity, fish deaths and the wasting of time cleaning troughs of smelly anaerobic fish waste.

 

By mid Oct. 2013 I had my first crop of lettuce and have grown around 16,000 products up till now (primarily lettuce, but also kale, Swiss Chard, couple types of basil, radicchio, Napa cabbage, bok choi, tatsoi and the list goes on, some with success some not).

 

I was able to learn about the surrounding market demand (within 3 hours of me there are nearly 20 million people) while working at the first farm and used those contacts to develop my sales and marketing leads for my primary sales to wholesale buyers.  In developing my business plan I also was looking at Farmer's Markets and my own CSA

 

For my wholesale buyers I was hoping to produce 500-900 products per week for 40-45 weeks of the year.  For this first year I will be a little off the low number but I did go through many product losses, bugs and what not.  I am still happy with the point I have gotten to but realize that I need to add another 2000- 4000 sq ft of growing area if I am going to make a better than break even living at this.  I will also have to move from a simple one man operation to have 2-3 workers, mainly for harvesting, but also some planting.  

 

The above takes me anywhere from 30-40 hrs per week to run, but doubling grow space would not double time required as some synergies of scale could be achieved.  

 

I had envisioned the aquaponics to be the backbone of a small farming  operation (microponics)  with maybe a few dirt crops (eg. sweet potatoes, melons, squash)  some chickens (eggs mainly for the Farmer's Markets and CSA), rabbits (good meat and would give my kids something to help with), vermiculture (I have all the waste from harvesting to compost), maybe some pigs and I always have other ideas coming but only so much time.  I wanted to grow my own food and make a decent living while enjoying the work I do.

 

There is much more I can write but will leave it with that and answer as many questions as I can, want  or have time too.  

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Hi Clint,

 

If you'd come on to this forum......and told us that you were thinking of doing what you've done.....and asked what we thought about commercial aquaponics at your level.....we'd have told you to exercise extreme caution.

 

We have a different problem here.......you're already up and going.

 

But that's not the only problem.

 

I'm so used to approaching commercial aquaponics (at your level) from the perspective that craft systems have to be under duress.....that I automatically assume that something needs to be fixed......if not shut down.

 

I've just re-read your post.....and what I get out of the second reading is that you've just given us an overview of your farm.....and not much more.

 

From where I sit, I'm tentative......but I'm not you.  Only you can tell us what is actually happening.   

 

How are your feeling about things.....right now?  

 

Are you selling stuff?  What is your production schedule?  What is your gross margin (what's left over after you've met the cost of production)?  Are your bills getting paid?  How many clients do you have?  What do they look like (wholesale or B2C)?  Have you borrowed money to get this lot happening or do you own it all?  Are things improving?

 

Are you optimistic/realistic/terrified?

 

Do you need our help......or are you just letting us know about your recently established AP farm?

 

 

Gary

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For my wholesale buyers I was hoping to produce 500-900 products per week for 40-45 weeks of the year.  For this first year I will be a little off the low number but I did go through many product losses, bugs and what not.  I am still happy with the point I have gotten to but realize that I need to add another 2000- 4000 sq ft of growing area if I am going to make a better than break even living at this.  I will also have to move from a simple one man operation to have 2-3 workers, mainly for harvesting, but also some planting.  

 

The above takes me anywhere from 30-40 hrs per week to run, but doubling grow space would not double time required as some synergies of scale could be achieved.  

 

:rock:

 

I've been trying to make this point about hobby sized "commercial aquaponics" farms for years... (and it relates to Gary's recent question as to minimum size of a "commercial" operation)...

 

There becomes a point at which a sole, or partnered operation either runs out of physical hours, or money (if they're paying them selves out of cash flow)... and the return is either breakeven at best... or actually a discounted loss (if you devalue your return on labour/hour)

 

And that at that point, when you have to employ labour.. the expansion is not merely a double/triple duplication of the system.. but much more as you move to having to sell "wholesale"... to dispose of stock... and/or keep your stock rotation cycles...

 

The one point that Clint didn't express though is... (given he/whoever is merely breakeven)...

 

Where does the capital for expansion come from?? and how (if it can actually be obtained) does it impact on points of scale.. and returns...

 

Sorry, but not only do I remain unconvinced as to single closed loop methodologies.. especially with media/wicking beds.....

 

I remain unconvinced that 99.99% of the "commercial aquaponics" entrants really grasp the scale and economies beyond the "pixie dust" sprinkled owner/operator hobby farm ponzi scheme.. that's been marketed over the last 5 years... and frankly IMO has not only held back the possible implementation of "integrated aquaculture"... or "commercial aquaponics"... but will continue to do so for at least another 5 years...

 

With a lot of money lost.. dreams crushed.... investors burnt... and an ever increasing list of "consultants" ;)

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)

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 http://www.emeraldaquaponicfarm.com/ to get to your web site. and then I can only see the contact us page ?

I will see about the signature to fix the link.  There are tabs on the bottom of the contact us page, click those for the rest.

 

 

How are your feeling about things.....right now?  

 

Are you selling stuff?  What is your production schedule?  What is your gross margin (what's left over after you've met the cost of production)?  Are your bills getting paid?  How many clients do you have?  What do they look like (wholesale or B2C)?  Have you borrowed money to get this lot happening or do you own it all?  Are things improving?

 

After the first year of operation I am feeling good about the system design and how it has been operating.  There are a few additions I would like to make like a swirl/radial filter to catch more waste from the fish tank and some work on my seedlings/nursery area.  But in general it works for me with my limited knowledge.  Coming on the forum has helped me understand  more and hopefully that will translate into improvements in operating and system design.

 

I am selling all I can grow at the moment with queries from my buyers as to when I will have more for them.  I currently produce 300 - 500 lettuce most weeks and then grow some about 150-200 cress, celery and chives on a rotation as they are not demanded every week like the lettuce.  My production schedule has been changing  from the first day as I am trying to fit the demands of the buyers into the supply I can grow all the while trying to learn different growing schedules along with different seasonal variations.

 

All my bills are getting paid and I am in the process of determining my gross margins (I hate that accounting stuff).  

 

As for clients, on the wholesale side I have 5 at the moment, but the majority of production goes to only two of them and they have demand for much more than I am producing. I can sell 1500 lettuce for 40 wks/yr, 1500 celery for 20 wks/yr, 1500 chives for 10 wks/yr and 1500 cress for 10 wks/yr.  My biggest concern is how I can build to these production levels.  I also know that if I can grow more products, within reason, I can sell them.  There is a fair demand for local, sustainable/organic food in the area and it is growing.

 

To get this all going I used some of my savings and borrowed from some family and friends.  I have had a slight hiccup with the land lease as the landlord and I have had a falling out and I am trying purchase the property or get a new lease with potential new owners.  I kinda rushed things a little to get this going and can see with 20-20 hindsight that I should have had all the agreements and capital in place for the initial phase and growth.

 

The situation is in a little of a holding patterns due to the land lease, but things like production and sales are doing well and improving.   Like I said above, I can sell more than I can produce.

 

 

Are you optimistic/realistic/terrified?

 

Do you need our help......or are you just letting us know about your recently established AP farm?

 

All of the above.  Operating a small business ones has to have so many hats, but I love what I am doing and hope to make the right decisions to grow the business and not become the realization of:

 

 

 

owner/operator hobby farm ponzi scheme

 

As for help, one can always use it.  I can only see what is in front of me and sometimes that is blurred from my rose colored glasses.  I am putting out what I have and what I do in hopes that comments and suggestions will help me make more informed decisions.

 

 

I've been trying to make this point about hobby sized "commercial aquaponics" farms for years... (and it relates to Gary's recent question as to minimum size of a "commercial" operation)...

 

There becomes a point at which a sole, or partnered operation either runs out of physical hours, or money (if they're paying them selves out of cash flow)... and the return is either breakeven at best... or actually a discounted loss (if you devalue your return on labour/hour)

 

And that at that point, when you have to employ labour.. the expansion is not merely a double/triple duplication of the system.. but much more as you move to having to sell "wholesale"... to dispose of stock... and/or keep your stock rotation cycles...

 

These are some good points but minimum size IMHO can be fit into a multi product family farming operation with a CSA.  One farmer I am talking too wants to put in an aquaponic system to go along with their dairy, beef operation, chickens and CSA.  They want to supply the milk, eggs, beef, chicken and vegetables for 50 families in the area.  So would that be a commercial aquaponics operation?  Probably not, but it would be a large component. 

 

I have read and agree that commercial AP needs to be on the same scale as commercial hydro, with the fish adding to the bottom line.  But the reality is that the two systems are difficult to manage by themselves and adding them together does not make it easier.  But I still have the belief that small scale niche operations can exist and I hope to prove that point.  

 

As for expansion, that goes to system design.  Paul mentioned his system is built full size but he manages the production to achieve greater or lesser production starting off at 50% and leaving room to expand without much extra capital costs (If I understood him right).  This is where systems like mine need to have better design so as not to need duplication but only small additions or changes to increased production.  I have some of this in that I can double my DWC without the addition of more fish tanks only more fish and more feed. 

 

The size for a a commercial AP would be akin to the size for a commercial beef operation, yes to be profitable size matters but there are many farmers with 10 - 500 cattle that make profit from their operation, that is what I see for small scale commercial operations like mine.  I have a niche wholesale market that wants local food (within 200 miles).  Not all operations can have this.  Goes back to comments I saw about the business side of commercial trainings that Jon mentioned, growing the food is the  easier part, selling it at a profitable price is the tough part.  

 

 

I remain unconvinced that 99.99% of the "commercial aquaponics" entrants really grasp the scale and economies beyond the "pixie dust" sprinkled owner/operator hobby farm ponzi scheme.. that's been marketed over the last 5 years... and frankly IMO has not only held back the possible implementation of "integrated aquaculture"... or "commercial aquaponics"... but will continue to do so for at least another 5 years...

 

With a lot of money lost.. dreams crushed.... investors burnt... and an ever increasing list of "consultants"  ;)

 

I agree with some of this but hope it is only 90% and that I can be one of the 10% that can make a living with the owner/operator small scale farm.  Most people want to have good food and AP offers the ability for some great backyard and hobby systems that sometimes make a little money for their owners and sometimes that hobby can become more with the help of a niche market.

 

 

Clint

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The size for a a commercial AP would be akin to the size for a commercial beef operation, yes to be profitable size matters but there are many farmers with 10 - 500 cattle that make profit from their operation, that is what I see for small scale commercial operations like mine.

 

 

Exactly correct and I can completely relate to this. Sure, the cattle feed yards that manages 1000s upon 1000s cattle have a better standard of living than a small rancher, but this does not mean the large operator maintains less risk nor work less than a small scale cattle rancher nor does this mean the large operators size is indicative of a small rancher to require the 1000s upon 1000s cattle so to "break even". There are also many large feedyards that lost their bum just the same as small ranchers due to lack of business savvy, poor operational management, living beyond their means in context of benefits and wages, and a level of too much business agression to gain more market share.

 

Only reason to start quite large is so to maintain better market share, which might be required dependent on the product sold or due to the operation's location. Large operations also require tremendous more market share and startup capital so to support their budget. Large operations have to show their budget projections can afford the corresponding capital and market risks much like must be done by small operators.

 

There are businesses that started too big and this lead to their downfall.

 

There are businesses that expanded too fast and this lead to their downfall.

 

I have experienced, for a small business to be successful, the small business has to determine what that minimal "optimal" operation size must be for their local market in relation to their personal goals, which is entirely dependent on regional variables.

 

From what I have observed in my local area, I find the knee jerk reaction in suggesting "commercial operators can not be small" is simply just that... a knee jerk reaction that comes from failed small business managers or from producers to discourage competition...
Edited by crsublette (see edit history)
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Hi again

 

I will see about the signature to fix the link.  There are tabs on the bottom of the contact us page, click those for the rest.

Clint

 

Only shows my PC skills, the toolbar on my PC coverd the bottom, and I didn't think off scrolling down :redface:  thanks.

 

 

No fish in your product line ? What specie(s) are you raising ? and is it only for privat consumption, or do you plan to add it to the prduct line?

 

cheers

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No fish in your product line ? What specie(s) are you raising ? and is it only for privat consumption, or do you plan to add it to the prduct line?

 

Currently, I am raising only goldfish.  I was wrongly under the assumption that low density fish was a realistic way to go and cheaper than organic hydro, should have done my homework better :)  Thus I started with the goldfish but have now looked raising some other type of fish for pond stocking in the area or possibly some bait fish.  In talking with a local fish supplier, I can raise bass fingerlings for half the year and goldfish the other half and he will purchase the grown out fish for local pond stocking.  While it it not the maximum profit that can be achieved on the fish side, it fits in well with my abilities, labor availability and adds to revenue generation.

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Currently, I am raising only goldfish.  I was wrongly under the assumption that low density fish was a realistic way to go and cheaper than organic hydro, should have done my homework better :)  Thus I started with the goldfish but have now looked raising some other type of fish for pond stocking in the area or possibly some bait fish.  In talking with a local fish supplier, I can raise bass fingerlings for half the year and goldfish the other half and he will purchase the grown out fish for local pond stocking.  While it it not the maximum profit that can be achieved on the fish side, it fits in well with my abilities, labor availability and adds to revenue generation.

 

Look into the Site for Goldfish Keepers forums. I have been a long time reader there and they have helped me tremendously in learning how to grow nice goldfish. The more fancy goldfish, which essentially require to be grown indoors, can bring a very pretty penny once they are grown out to around 6~10 inches. I have found landscapers and local ma/pa fish stores will offer a much better price for grown out goldfish that are grown in healthy, non-stressful conditions, since most of the major pet retail stores have a terrible track record of selling healthy goldfish.

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Hi Everyone, 

I am building a small demo system that will be comprised of fish tank, radial filter (Paul's design), bio filter, 2'x2'x6" CF media/worm bed and a 2'x4'x1' dwc trough.  Just built the two beds this am, waiting on some parts to finish.  Here is what I have so far:

 

post-3633-0-11159300-1408901758_thumb.jp  post-3633-0-77997400-1408901762_thumb.jp

post-3633-0-35314200-1408901767_thumb.jp

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Hi Clint,

 

What's the purpose in this system.....it seems that you already operate larger than this?

 

I'm still trying to reconcile your decision to use goldfish in a commercial system.

 

 

Gary

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Gary,

 

An agriculture extension agent (PH.D vegetable specialist) at a local university wanted a small system that he could take and use for backyard and master gardener classes.  And many people cannot afford the time or are not handy enough to build small backyard systems yet they still want them.  I am exploring using this a starting point to build backyard systems for others.

 

As for the goldfish.  There were a couple things going on when I got them.  Firstly, they were what was available for the price I could afford at the time I was ready to populate my system (I wanted to go with hybrid blue gill, so at least I could eat some). Secondly, I was wrongly under the impression that I could operate at less cost with low density fish stocking.  Since reading many great articles on this site I have come to realize my poor assumption and am exploring raising bass fingerlings to the 6-8" stage and selling live, very good demand for them in this area.  I am also able to raise the goldfish in the off time from the bass and sell them back to the supplier and as they grow fast, hopefully to recover food and raising costs.

 

Clint

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Hi Everyone, 

I am building a small demo system that will be comprised of fish tank, radial filter (Paul's design), bio filter, 2'x2'x6" CF media/worm bed and a 2'x4'x1' dwc trough.  Just built the two beds this am, waiting on some parts to finish.  Here is what I have so far:

 

attachicon.gifIMG_20140824_101836_649.jpg  attachicon.gifIMG_20140824_105350_397.jpg

attachicon.gifIMG_20140824_120744_427.jpg

 

 

What is that white liner material? I've been looking for something like that, but no luck yet.

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Small hobby farm system... supplying backyard systems for people.... when are your training workshops commencing :D

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Rupe,

 

Emerald Aquaponics Farm appears to offer farm tours and training programs - based on EAF operations.

 

Charles,

 

What is that white liner material? I've been looking for something like that, but no luck yet.

 

The product is Dura-Skrim......llow density polyethylene sheet......and it's available from Allied Aqua (one of our forum sponsors).

 

Gary

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Rupe,

 

While I offer tours, trainings and will build systems for people, I know that my knowledge is limited and will make the point that, where any such training, consultation, construction is outside of this knowledge or skills, I will partner with appropriately qualified people.

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Small hobby farm system... supplying backyard systems for people.... when are your training workshops commencing :D

 

It's what small businesses must do so to survive, that is called diversification. :) Don't see large operations with the level of operational and service diversification since everything is more stream lined simply due to their shear size and overhead costs that "comes with the territory" of creating larger yields for purchase.

 

The major 12,000~30,000 acre conventional soil farms that I am aware of never stray from their own operations, such as using their own equipment to do side jobs since it is just not necessary for them to do it in order to make a good living. Quite different for small business operators.

 

If a small business operator is able to make a good living without diversification in services nor operations, then they are quite fortunate with their regional variables.

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)
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Gary,

 

An agriculture extension agent (PH.D vegetable specialist) at a local university wanted a small system that he could take and use for backyard and master gardener classes.  And many people cannot afford the time or are not handy enough to build small backyard systems yet they still want them.  I am exploring using this a starting point to build backyard systems for others.

 

 

Yeah, all of the ornamental plant green houses in my area have an additional service of preparing and planting the flowers/shrubs etc for the customer since the customer buying the flowers/shrubs would not buy them if they had to prepare/plant these plants them self.

 

I have been thinking of doing exactly what you are talking about. So many people waste so much water and battle so much with insects moreso than they should be if they simply constructed a proper system.

 

Quite tough to find local folk who know what they're doing. Personally, there are very few local folk I sub-contract with due to this reason. However, since you have your own operation as a showcase and then will be willing to construct and help maintain other's system. Then, this would make ya a good continual cash flow by "renting" out this construction and services. If they fail to pay the rent, then the merchandise and construction material must be returned.

 

Painters do this all the time. Businesses must pay a reoccuring "rent" to use their art as advertisement. When the business fails to pay, then the painter is within their legal right to "white wall" the art advertisment.

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Reading my previous post reminded me of a sweet old lady that managed a quite successful family mexican restaraunt in a town near me and what she did to attract business.

 

To attract customers, she offered free margaritas whenever a meal of "X" amount of dollars was purchased; now, I must say they were not top shelf ones of cours. ;) This was done because the restaurant liquor license rules in our general community around this area is quite a pain, far too political, and expensive to obtain. So, she can legally circumvent this by acting as if her restaraunt was her home and did not charge a price for the drink and did not say that her menu items were marked up to pay for it. Welp, this tactic brought a tremendous amount of business and kept the restaraunt full and in the black. She operated like this for 30 years until her husband got too ill, requiring every other day visits to a dialysis machine, and, unfortunatly, there was too much family drama to continue the restaurant. However, the point is that it worked.

 

I can see many parallels of this type of tactic used in agriculture to help increase the demand for a business, except not necessarily invoking alcohol as the provocateur. This is how small agricultural businesses survive.

Edited by crsublette (see edit history)
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It's what small businesses must do so to survive, that is called diversification.

 

I think people might be misinterpreting my position.. or perhaps lack the "historical" context

 

I'm certainly not against "diversification".. or multiple revenue streams.. in a small business

 

But, at least initially (it may be changing)... that wasn't how "commercial aquaponics" was being presented

 

If aquaponics is a component of a mixed farming operation... then training should be presented in that light..as "Aquaponics as a component of a small farming business"

 

If aquaponics is essentially the only component of a business... other than the training provided... and as someone else pointed out.. the primary income is actually from the training... then it really is more a demonstration module in support a training business... rather than a "commercial aquaponics" farm :D

 

Then, of course there's those that either don't farm at all.. or announce training in "commercial aquaponics" before even having actually operated the aquaponics component to determine any "profitability... and basically fall into the above category ultimately...

 

Then there's the question of scale (and/or design methodologies)... and whether or not an aquaponics farm can be sustainably "profitable" by a one/two person operation... and whether or not that business can transition to a larger dedicated standalone wholesale (paying labour) profitable business

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)
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Hi,

 

I think people might be misinterpreting my position.. or perhaps lack the "historical" context

 

I'm certainly not against "diversification".. or multiple revenue streams.. in a small business

 

I experience a similar thing when I set out to explain the issues with including business back ends like training, kits, plan sets or hardware as part of the product mix.

 

People quite rightly ask what's wrong with including all of these back ends......expanding revenue streams is just business common sense....right?

 

For the benefit of our other members, the historical issues included:

  • People who operated seminars in which they claimed that commercial AP was profitable......based on their own business operations.
  • An inability/unwillingness to separate out back end revenue from that derived from fish/plant sales.
  • The absence of profit and loss data - premised on fish and plant production - to validate claims of viability.
  • Seminar operators typically partnered with one of their graduates to provide the appearance of a viable operation......where the seminar operators weren't actually farming......and the farmer/partner wasn't able to operate the seminar.....to create a dog and pony show that had the appearance (to prospective fee-paying attendees at least) of a viable commercial AP system.

This model has proliferated to the point where, aside from integration aquaculture operations that do produce fish and plants (which they sell into separate markets), we have this creature which is a hybrid fish and plant production/farm tourism business model.

 

This model is clearly different.......even down to the inclusion of niche marketing/low density aspects that are not evident (nor appropriate to) the integrated aquaculture one.

 

It has parallels in other farming sectors.

  • The niche wool/mohair producer who markets a range of value-added textile products through their farm shop......in the face of mainstream graziers and wood producers.
  • The CSA organic farm who orchestrates the marketing of own (and other farmers') products......in the face of mainstream farmers everywhere.
  • The organic "grass-fed" beef/pig/poultry operation who value adds - and markets - their products direct to  a restaurant supplies......in the face of mainstream suppliers elsewhere.

.....and there are dozens of other similar combinations.

 

These micro-businesses range from "hobby farm" providers of part-time income to people who are looking to top up existing income streams......to those which (premised on their existence over time) are probably capable of supporting a larger number of people.

 

For some time now, I've agued that the integration of other farmed organisms (like worms, BSF, Japanese Quail, aquatic plants, etc) would help to create additional revenue streams while enhancing the sustainability of the basic aquaponic proposition.

 

I think we've probably reached the point where it's a waste of time trying to explain why such operations are not commercial aquaponics farms....and why it's entirely appropriate for these businesses to have farm tourism and retailing back ends (preferably about which the operators have some knowledge and skills).  

 

While full financial disclosure might have been a good way to evidence viability, it won't happen for a variety of reasons.....not the least of which is the likelihood that the business operator won't be able to access/interpret the information in a timely fashion - much less provide it to anyone else.  

 

The next most likely useful indicator of viability is that the business survives over time.  If an enterprise is still in existence after two or three seasons, it probably paying the bills and meeting the other expectations of its owners/operators.

 

We can probably be of greater use to Clint by helping him to grow fish and plants more cost effectively.....and by assisting him to evaluate and implement sustainable back ends......than by continuing to tell him that his business model has some historical issues.

 

Gary

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)
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I love to see the passion everyone is is expressing, it means we all care about aquaponics.  All the points above about diversification, back end profits and additional revenue streams are needed and used in most businesses, we can agree on that :)  

 

The proliferation of various "Commercial aquaponic" dog and pony trainings or trainings with no commercial experience we can all agree are almost wholly not a good thing for aquaponics (exception: Jon Parr noted that any training he has gone to it was the fellow classmates that really made the training i.e., where there was a healthy exchange of ideas).  

 

 

 

Then there's the question of scale (and/or design methodologies)... and whether or not an aquaponics farm can be sustainably "profitable" by a one/two person operation... and whether or not that business can transition to a larger dedicated standalone wholesale (paying labour) profitable business

 

This is the point I want to get into, I am trying to make it work, I have paid bills for my business (and my child support and other financial obligations as a result of a divorce).  I know my design has some issues and that is why I am here and will be making changes to improve the system.  Some of my confusion comes with how to determine which design and scale is the best fit all the while trying to grow the business and transition from the one person operation it currently is to a larger wholesale profitable business.  But for me it is in the context of a small family farm setting.  I want to develop a model that family farms can use for their CSA's or their Farmer's Market operations or maybe just supplying to their local church or non profit.  But giving them a model/design that is sustainable both on a business and an agricultural sense.

 

About the business model historical issues, I do appreciate a little feet to the fire and sarcasm.  I have read many other threads and seen people come on with their great ideas, plans, business development but fall to the side when they are asked to produce data and show results, get rid of those snake oil/get rich quick schemers.  And for the trainers with no commercial experience or the dog and pony shows, time will sort them out, people will realize, it is just how every system goes through its progression, we just have to keep getting good information out there.

 

On my last note a little bad news.  My landlord has sold the property and the new owners do not wish to lease me the greenhouse, thus I will be moving in a couple months, where is unknown. I will continue to work on my model/design and search for a place to continue with the farm. Thanks for all the help so far.

 

Clint

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