Aquaponic Gardening

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Rakocy's model has been out for about 20 years.  With this being said, I am wondering how many commercial aquaponics farms currently exist?  I am referring to farms that make the bulk of their income from aquaponic farming and not from aquaponic eco-tourism (workshops, tours, etc...).  

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Probably less than a handful... but that might depend on your definition of "commercial"....

 

IMO... any operation that's not paying themselves, or employees.. at current labour market rates... doesn't count... they're hobby farms...

 

And don't forget... the UVI operation was NOT a commercial operation... it was heavily funded and subsidised by grants....

 

And neither are Growing Power, or Sweetwater... who are often held up as examples of "commercial" success... for the same reasons.... and by their own admissions... that they are NOT profitable...

I agree with this statement Rupert..."Probably less than a handful... but that might depend on your definition of "commercial"...."

Aquaponics to me really focuses on growing food locally, so it is ideally suited to "small scale" farming, especially in the urban environment. I am starting to see Aquaponics being incorporated in what were previously only Hydroponic Farms ( I just had a workshop participant who is looking into purchasing an existing successful Hydroponic farm operating on 4 acres and converting parts of that to Aquaponics). Small scale commercial urban hybrid Aquaponics based farms do have the necessary elements to make a profit (on a similar scale to small organic farms), especially if they are owner operated and serve a large urban market demand. I really cannot say that about larger Commercial Aquaponics operations.

   

God bless

RupertofOZ said:

Probably less than a handful... but that might depend on your definition of "commercial"....

 

IMO... any operation that's not paying themselves, or employees.. at current labour market rates... doesn't count... they're hobby farms...

 

And don't forget... the UVI operation was NOT a commercial operation... it was heavily funded and subsidised by grants....

 

And neither are Growing Power, or Sweetwater... who are often held up as examples of "commercial" success... for the same reasons.... and by their own admissions... that they are NOT profitable...

You may never hear very much about the few that are really making income from just the farm because they are probably too busy to get on the internet and tell you about it.

   TCLynx, I would agree with you there!  Our redworm farm is not the same as an "AP farm"...but we are constantly asked about a web presence (which I am trying to squeak-out the time to pull together) .  My answer is that we are farmers, and that is what we spend our time doing. Any farming is a time commitment. In the morning I spend just a bit of time answering farm related e-mails (and then stop by here for a bit) before the 'real day' activities have to start. I have a feeling there are also many small scale AP farms that are making their profits -their living- from AP output sales (probably somewhat local), but are just too busy to focus on letting the rest of the world know they are there. ...

 

Good reply peter!  You added: 'Plants and Business sense do not often mix.  There is an old saying in the greenhouse business, "we dont do people, we do plants". Its why a lot of growers go out of business. They focus all their efforts on the plants....'.

   And that is why I spend time on the e-mail....Especailly with the local farming sales market.  You do have to let your presence be known.  And that is an important aspect of local marketing....This is why I answer e-mails in the a.m... The outreach is important...But you have to be sure it is time well spent, balanced.  Farmers' Markets are a great way to get an AP Farm known...and you will spend a great deal of time out there just educating people about AP.  That is what we do with our redworm farm at Farmers' Markets, and it does pay off ( I mean talking about redworms/vermicomposting/etc.) . I'd recommend anybody who is trying to become successful at AP not to forget the personal touch.  I am sure any farmer would like a 26 hour day, and the energy to go with it.    

Yep, and the truth is most small farms have to be diverse in there products and income so insisting that a small operation make all their income and pay all their wages from only the product of an AP system, well then it's going to be difficult to find a farm that will meet the definition.

Most small farms will have several different products to support them.  Perhaps some produce and some seedling and some animal products, say eggs and selling maybe goats or something like that.

TCLynx,   Would this be something like a CSA offered on a farm?  

 

  Out here most of the small farms that 'live off' their farming are diverse in their product offering.  Kind of like following the saying that 'it is not wise to put your eggs all in one basket.'

    There is a local non-profit orgnization out in my region that serves to help farmers.  It seems that the big push is to really advertize in the region to buy local.  There is a push to help farmers diversify with added value products.  Fortunately this organization also is big on helping the farmers achieve this with training on all the aspects of being able to pull it off.   So AP could easily be just one more peice of the pie a small farm has to offer in its diverse products brought to market...or a new niche...

    The reason I asked about the CSA thing is that out here due to the economy many small farmers are going the CSA route...for various reasons.  With a CSA, you can have your product already pre-sold so-to-speak.  This helps to let a farmer know there is  a sure income.  With a CSA you can determine the drop off or pick-up points and times, freeing you up a bit (rather than spending long hours at farmers' markets or roadside stands not knowing how your sales will be). Some farmers will go to the farmers' markets early in the season to fill their CSA slots with those who sign up at the market, and then they do not need to be at the market for the rest of the season.

   Just wondered if the CSA  aspect is growing in other regions of the USA?  

   It seems there a flied/ greenhouse farming  operation trying to add AP to the mix near me.  I'll be watching it with interest.  Can't say if they are successful yet, in the AP dept....they just have the AP up and running...and from what I gathered reading they are well on their way up the ladder of success...

 

It seems to me that the AP Farmer can spend the time we aren't weeding, and aren't digging, and aren't shoveling, and aren't fertilizing, and aren't fighting with neighbors over water, etc...  to do the things that will make it easier for our customers/clients/stakeholders to order ahead and  to pick up or for just in time delivery made all right here in the neighborhoods.

I think the CSA thing and/or Co-ops and/or buying clubs run through farms is all picking up and I know of one farm that added the Buying club to their operation and another buying club that added an aquaponics operation to their club.  So Yea I think it's all weaving together but yet keeping it diverse.

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