Aquaponic Gardening

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So much discussions have come about regarding the viability of aquaponics as a business.


Can it work, or not?

and why?

In Canada (Toronto specifically) the focus for local has been huge. Being in a cold climate we cannot source certain products locally, and they come from California, or Mexico. I have no experience running aquaponics on a huge level (I've got a small setup on the second floor of my restaurant)

But what I dont get, is why is a hyroponic/greenhouse setup selling, say cucumbers viable?

We have greenhouses in Ontario growing peppers, cucumbers,  year-round in a cold climate. so these guys have heating costs in the winter, probably artificial light for the lack of sun in the winter - and I am sure they are turning a profit? (They wouldn't be in business if they werent making money!)

Regarding additional income streams such as consulting, training, farm tours

That is all part of the business IMO. My restaurants turn a profit from all aspects of the business. (ie. Catering) but are base is dining in/taking out)

If you look at my restaurant model, I've got 3 cooks, 2 waitresses, cost of rent, heat, hydro, enormous food cost (30-40% in many cases) TONS of competition, and at the end of the day we turn a profit.

from 7am to 10am we sell 3 eggs, 3 bacon, homefries, toast and coffee for 3.99!! plus I got to pay all those other costs. but money is made because of turn-over.

Why NOT aquaponics? (forgive my lack of knowledge)

But if you've got say, 4000 sq. feet of grow beds, ample lighting etc. and you follow what most of the experts are saying. (ie. say 27 holes per 2X4 raft)and decide to grow, say buttercrunch lettuce

4000 sq. feet should technically give you a gross production of 13,500 heads of lettuce?

obviously you stagger the harvest cycles, have an ample amount of seedlings ready to replace the harvest.

Is it unrealistic that 4000. sq. feet of grow beds, with proper lighting, fish to plant population etc. will output, say 10,000 heads a month?

am I missing something here? (again, forgive my lack of knowledge regarding aquaponics, growth times)

I'd love to dive in and learn aquaponics, grow year-round for the many, many local restaurants that "do" source locally but simply cannot find them.

I guess I am trying to figure out what one could expect out of total production, then discuss the input costs etc.

Would love to hear your opinions.

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That is sad. Sorry to hear and I know how that feels but that's life eh?...Live and learn. I hope you were able to use OPM (other peoples money). At least that's the only way I know how to play and learn since I don't have any money anymore. Without OPM, I'd have to get a "Yob", as my granddaddy use to say. I've only had two in my life and hope never to have to have one again.

Man we have some great minds on this forum. Thanks guys for sharing.

Peter - what do you see as the biggest hurdle to making your operation more profitable? As I figure you are bringing in around $8.00 a sq/ft with no labor costs. How many students does it take to operate the system?

Rupert - When you were in operation did you realize a net above your labor costs? The system looks quite impressive by the way.

Thanks

Tom

Sounds that every one is playing with OPM??   The college is funding the program? Is it turning a profit?

  I'm trying to start a small scale GH on my property with my the little money I dont have.  Since my restaurant did not succeed,  I want to try growing it for the ones that are.  Still reading through all these forums and trying to learn on others mistakes.

Crap! Why didn't someone tell me before I sunk all that money (of my own) into the AP greenhouse..?

Thanks guys.

Now, maybe if I used prison labor...........cue Pinky and the Brain theme song...



Tom McLemore said:

 

Rupert - When you were in operation did you realize a net above your labor costs?

 

Yes and no Tom, I was turning a profit from production, over and above labour and basic overheads..

 

But with my life long impeccable timing... the interest rate repayments on the bank loan to finance the capex... were extreme...

 

And consolidation of wholesale businesses and models into a fewer big "corporations"....pushed the price returns for the produce down significantly

 

Over the 5-6 year life of the operation.. I wouldn't have acheived a return on investment worth zip...

 

Winding the business up and settling property claims due to the marriage breakdown... while I basically came out square with the banks and kept my credit rating... it all cost me a fair whack of money, basically everything I builtup through the years before.... cest la vie...

Seems like a great program Peter. 

Peter Shaw said:

OTM. Yep, we are in the education field, that means we use your money to teach people life skills and train them to have successful careers. Not sure what you would want, more farmers and more english majors?

The college pays salaries, we generate $ and reinvest that money in students and learning opportunities, some of the money can end up benefiting the college as well. As a matter of fact, yes it is turning a profit. But the saving are used to develop other models, as to fix things that break, like heaters, vents, new coverings that the college can not afford to replace.

The aquaponics system is operated by one student, during most of the year, then during our spring semester my hydropoincs class gets hands on experience. 

The student overseeing the system gets paid, we pay all of our students in the range of $12-14.50 per hour.

The students working on enterprise projects get paid by selling their produce. We charge $1 a pound for tomatoes, he sells them for $3.50 a pound, making 2.50 for each of the 150 pounds harvested, making $375 a week. During the summer when the project starts and for the first 12 weeks of training and growth (takes 8 weeks from flower to fruit by the way) he makes zip. 

Vlad, yep, nothing like using YOM to make a profit for yourself.... We make a "profit" that benefits others, 

peter

Tom McLemore said:

Man we have some great minds on this forum. Thanks guys for sharing.

Peter - what do you see as the biggest hurdle to making your operation more profitable? As I figure you are bringing in around $8.00 a sq/ft with no labor costs. How many students does it take to operate the system?

Rupert - When you were in operation did you realize a net above your labor costs? The system looks quite impressive by the way.

Thanks

Tom

Whoa Peter, no worries, I didn't take it that way. I thought you meant using YOM while having it's own downside to be sure, does come with a certain degree of freedom and, if not less, than at least different kind of headaches...(headaches which are nonetheless sometimes preferable to dealing with investors, finicky clients, or worse... their wives (sorry ladies, no offense), the half retarded Ruth Golderg mechinations that the state is inclined to spawn etc...

Your schools program really does sound like a wonderful way to expose students to not only AP, but the various aspects of different enterprise...from production, to point of sales.

I wanted to ask earlier, but did not want to bother you with it...How did the transition from hydroponics to AP come about? (From the 'bottom up', I imagine. Seems like a really keen development in any case.

 

I just read an interesting article in the Aquaculture North America magazine. It was written by a University of Wisconsin professor. In it was noted that many commercial start ups for recirc aquaculture and aquaponics were in unsuitable buildings, and ultimately failed. The temperature, humidity, etc, are not properly thought out for an indoor commercial system, especially for those of us that do not have an engineering background, and can ill afford to hire a number of "experts" to address such issues. At our latitude 51N and above this presents some unique problems if one wishes to go commercial, which means year round. Fluid heating and cooling becomes a major issue, which then leads to constructing a suitable building to house everything. When it gets to -30 or more, as it does, any failure in the system can be catastrophic. Redundancy needs to be the norm rather than the exception. And that is what creates the major expense on start up. Think about what you need for start up costs, then double it. Then add 10% for the 'just in case'. Give yourself lots of financial room to maneuver.

Hello,  Ian, can we find this article and where is it published if at all!????? thank you, Adam

Mr, Ian  I went online to read this article and i am not able to see it from the web site any help here, thank you in advance adam

Interesting. In Wilson Lennard's video that was mysteriously removed he said the same thing about using buildings. The costs of lighting and temperature were prohibitive.

 


Ian Cameron said:

I just read an interesting article in the Aquaculture North America magazine. It was written by a University of Wisconsin professor. In it was noted that many commercial start ups for recirc aquaculture and aquaponics were in unsuitable buildings, and ultimately failed. The temperature, humidity, etc, are not properly thought out for an indoor commercial system, especially for those of us that do not have an engineering background, and can ill afford to hire a number of "experts" to address such issues. At our latitude 51N and above this presents some unique problems if one wishes to go commercial, which means year round. Fluid heating and cooling becomes a major issue, which then leads to constructing a suitable building to house everything. When it gets to -30 or more, as it does, any failure in the system can be catastrophic. Redundancy needs to be the norm rather than the exception. And that is what creates the major expense on start up. Think about what you need for start up costs, then double it. Then add 10% for the 'just in case'. Give yourself lots of financial room to maneuver.

Dr Savidov in Alberta has been very successful. Look him up on Google.

I tried to link an article from a 2005 aquaponics journal but it wouldn't let me

 

 

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