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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Dino, are most of your restaurants within the GTA? are you looking to set this up centrally somewhere within the GTA? or are you looking to get outside the city where space is cheaper?

Well, I am torn with the many ideas associated with AP. (marketable, potentially profitable ideas!)

My restaurants are in the GTA - yes - Are you in Toronto Calvin?

I've got some opportunities for very cheap industrial land/warehouse space in Scarborough - but that means you need some light of course.

or just north of stouffville - green house style production. Lots of cold climate greenhouses have peaked my interest; one being in Ottawa: http://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm , http://www.solarbubblebuild.com/ is another example.

FYI (If) I do this I plan on starting small, supplying restaurants within my own network to "keep the lights on" and move forward from there.

TClynx: that idea has crossed my mind. (assuming I had gone into a building, and offered "year-round" family fishing!)

here is a guy about 25 miles from the city core offering trout fishing, and his prices. (and he extremely busy) (1.99 per gram of fish caught)

http://www.burdsfamilyfishing.com/hours.php

That is one more reason why I will say it once again...you location is a big plus Dino. Your experience in running a successful and profitable business is a HUGE one. The nature of your business and your contacts...yet another big benefit most of us are lacking... You have many things going for you...And you know I'm saying not to do it...but...

Do you know of another outfit that has been organically certified using the Friendlies model? (Other than Friendlies themselves). Since according to some of the wording (livestock=fish) it seemed like kind of a fluke that they were able to get it in the first place. Now, I'm NOT saying that they shouldn't have, just that if a certifying organisation were to follow protocol "to the letter of the law" it seems that AP may be un-certifiable (then again, may not be). Unless, the definition of what is and what is not "livestock" has changed. Fish should NOT have been included in the list of warm blooded creatures labeled 'livestock' to begin with, so I'm with Tim and Susan on that one....Wasn't that why they subsequently lost their Costco account? Was that grievance redressed? You may want to contact a certifying agency? Aquaponics seems to be a somewhat controversial arena.

Peter: last I spoke with some of these agencies regarding "organic" (ministry of natural resources, CRFA) it was extremely similiar/almost identical to the US based rules and regulations. otherwise bringing in "Organic" grade lettuce according to US state/fed regulations would not necessarily constitute organic here. The majority of our organic greens come from the US.


Again, I cannot guarantee this. for example: there is no law for what constitutes "organic" seafood but many agriculturists are branding their products organic simply because there is no guidelines. and naturally people pay more. They are also working on that, and I am sure they will work with their friends stateside to work that out!

On June 17, 2009, Canada and the USA entered into an arrangement recognizing our national organic systems to be equivalent (subject to several exceptions). Under this agreement all Canadian organic products shipped to the USA must meet the requirements of the new Canadian Organic Regulations. For more details see www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/orgbio/orgbioimporte.shtml.

Now what those exceptions are, could be as you stated. I do not know.. will look into it!

Now Peter, isn't there anything that Dino can do to bring his system pretty much on-line independent of the fish

until they (fish) get the engine running smoothly?

Peter Shaw said:

Another thing to consider is how long it is going to take to get your system up to this optimal production level.

Assuming you are not going to raise all your fish at one cohort they will need to be staged, and your feed will be maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of a fully charged system. Feed rate is directly related to fish waste and waste is plant food,

Even if you have only one cohort you will likely add fingerings and your food rate will be a fraction of the total,

Tilapia will likely give you a system fully charged in the shortest amount of time, what, something like 26 weeks at 80 degrees, 

your produce yields will be low for a long time.

Canadian Organic allows Water based systems? Are you sure, I was under the impression that they were not, and they were the same as Australia. But it is not my area so i could be wrong.,

Holy crap!!! $1.99 PER GRAM!!! 

Dino Pantelidis said:

Well, I am torn with the many ideas associated with AP. (marketable, potentially profitable ideas!)

My restaurants are in the GTA - yes - Are you in Toronto Calvin?

I've got some opportunities for very cheap industrial land/warehouse space in Scarborough - but that means you need some light of course.

or just north of stouffville - green house style production. Lots of cold climate greenhouses have peaked my interest; one being in Ottawa: http://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm , http://www.solarbubblebuild.com/ is another example.

FYI (If) I do this I plan on starting small, supplying restaurants within my own network to "keep the lights on" and move forward from there.

TClynx: that idea has crossed my mind. (assuming I had gone into a building, and offered "year-round" family fishing!)

here is a guy about 25 miles from the city core offering trout fishing, and his prices. (and he extremely busy) (1.99 per gram of fish caught)

http://www.burdsfamilyfishing.com/hours.php

it's $1.99 per 100 gram

I'm in the small town of Wellesley which is just outside Kitchener-Waterloo(bout 1.5 hours west of the GTA). We've got quite a bit of empty warehouse space around this end of Waterloo, generally running about $3-5 per square foot. I drive by a couple that are about a block from our area's largest farmers market. :)

looking on icx.ca it seems that warehouse pricing isn't much different in scarborough from here. Any idea what zone you would need to be in to run something like sweet water organics?

lol ssorry for the typo.. would be nice

Yeah, I just saw that when I clicked on the link...still not a bad price...hehe maybe talapia being "exotic" to them parts and all could go for a higher price?


TCLynx said:

it's $1.99 per 100 gram

That would be a tough one in AP. There also stuff in there about adequately composted manure used in the production of food to be eaten raw...thermophilic process' blabla... I guess someone should have told them that fish are cold blooded...

Peter Shaw said:

 ...from what i heard they lost it due to concerns with food safety, 

but you are right, you can not apply animal byproducts to leafy vegetables with in 30 days of harvest or something like that, now how can you possibly not apply fish waste in rafts? 


Vlad Jovanovic said:

That is one more reason why I will say it once again...you location is a big plus Dino. Your experience in running a successful and profitable business is a HUGE one. The nature of your business and your contacts...yet another big benefit most of us are lacking... You have many things going for you...And you know I'm saying not to do it...but...

Do you know of another outfit that has been organically certified using the Friendlies model? (Other than Friendlies themselves). Since according to some of the wording (livestock=fish) it seemed like kind of a fluke that they were able to get it in the first place. Now, I'm NOT saying that they shouldn't have, just that if a certifying organisation were to follow protocol "to the letter of the law" it seems that AP is un-certifiable. (Unless, the definition of what is and what is not "livestock" has changed. Fish should NOT have been included in the list of warm blooded creatures labeled 'livestock' to begin with, so I'm with Tim and Susan on that one)....Wasn't that why they subsequently lost their Costco account? Was that grievance redressed? You may want to contact a certifying agency? Aquaponics seems to be a somewhat controversial arena.

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