Aquaponic Gardening

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If you had a choice to set up AP system anywhere in the US.. Where would it be? Maybe you would want to start a business up like me. Maybe just for yourself.. Im struggling with wether to stay in DFW, and hope that Denton Tx. will have enough green consciences individuals to keep my biz a float. However some of my friends in other states are trying to coax me to go to them. One of those places is Reno NV. I have my doubts.. Inputs? Opinions? 2 cents? Pearls of Wisdom? 

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Hi Ryan,

I have been like you working slowly on a commercial greenhouse and using what I can in inexpensive materials on some things. I am a custom woodworker and have been very successful at woodworking until the economy started to fail. I too decided to go into something that everyone can eat rather than things people really do not need.

I built a 2500 sqft greenhouse with wood with 4 28' rafts and use the growing power fish tanks and upper troughs but use Glen Martinez bio-filter on the lower trough to flush out to my rafts. This greenhouse is a test setup to see how and what I can do. I have 3 investors and it is now going through the fish-less cycle to get things started.

One of my investors will be purchasing everything I can grow. He has a produce warehouse in several states and will be doing the marketing and I will just grow for them. I have been paying for everything so far and have not made a dime but have been blessed to have my mortgage paid for. I am on a 15 acre land parcel so expansion is possible.

I think that you are doing the correct thing and asking questions and should do fine. Is my setup a commercial setup? I should think so. Does commercial mean I have to sell a certain amount? No I just have to sell to a company that will sell to grocery stores or sell direct to grocery stores.

Like you said who knows what these people had when they started. A loan to get a brand new building would have overhead but a paid for property or someone letting you use a property with the greenhouse already on it and the overhead goes way down. If you have the money to pay for it or have another setup that pays for it and that overhead goes away.

In my situation I have electricity and propane for heat. When my wood burning stove and other ideas for solar hot water get on-line, that overhead will go down. I will build a solar electric panel for the fans and pumps and that will go down as well. How much overhead is there then.

I will have media for start up plants, feed for fish, boxes for plants I am shipping them in and plastic bags and gas to get there but that is really not that much compared to what can be grown and received for these products. Especially if other things are taken care of.

If the other people are helping you in anyway financially then this can and will be successful. If you get a loan and do everything brand new it will be harder but again no one knows your situation like they do not know mine. After I sell my first harvest to my investor I will make something more than I had in the last 2 years. If all I have is electricity and some propane to heat my fish tank water then my bills are very low. If I sell him 5K a month I would think I could pay back or pay a lot of bills off pretty fast. I will be paying some back slowly and 2 in a way that does not add anything to my overhead becasue of the situation we agreed on. The one I will be paying back a total of 12K in 3 years. So when you look at the numbers it is very possible to do but only based on your situation.

I think that this talk about wagering and failing needs to stop and lets get back to what works and help him rather than go down this road. I have received a lot of great help on this site and have been told not to do or try this or that and have taken these things and have been doing great.

Well, actually I was in the process of deleting the comment when you posted - my intention is to be helpful but obviously you've pushed a button with me. I really should have kept that mean little thought in my head.

I'm a successful AP hobbyist, no more. My background is business, but you are correct, it's clear I have done a poor job of communicating my message to you, which pertains to due diligence and understanding all of the requirements going into something like this. It's the same for any business venture, though I believe this path in particular is extremely risky. For one, people fall head over heels in love with AP. It's a wonderful thing, right? But if you've been participating in any number of AP sites, you so often hear in a new members first post, their intention to build a successful AP business and by the way, just how many fish can I stuff into my 50 gal fish tank??...So many people with little or no experience want to do this for a living. At some point, it would be really interesting to learn how many have tried and succeeded, as well as failed. I agree with TC - there probably are a few out there doing it, but are most likely working too hard to bother with these sites. Some believe they just aren't willing to share their magic formula to AP success. Anyway, my intent was to share a realistic view on the challenges and possibly point you towards some things you might look into.

You are confusing to communicate with yourself, in that you say you are inexperienced, but then you say of course you and your partners are looking at everything involved (or something to that effect). You've made some scary comments as well, such as the comment regarding overhead (I really need to send you some links - I think you will be blown away by those things you've probably never even considered...). You just did it again with the "low tech" comments. The design, the plumbing, the electrical system, the redundant systems (backup), etc. are not low tech. Yes, they are just tanks and pumps and pipes and wires, but  If your engineers are not currently designing commercial aquaculture systems and/or hydroponic systems, they might not be at a good starting point to design a "Herban Farm" type operation. If you plan to do this as a business, I would seriously consider some time with a reputable consultant in the field. Does your Marine Biologist specialize in commercial aquaculture or is she of the "Saving Nemo" variety? (Sorry, don't care for her much). Anyway, you get the point.

There is a big difference between shooting down someone's dream and asking them to wake up and open their eyes.

I do hope you can pull it off. Out of curiousity, if you did become successful, would you be willing to share your secrets to success?

 

 

Hey, I am in North Fort Worth...would love to hear more about your business!

Ryan, hang in there ...its too bad so much is lost in translation over the internet. one person's sarcasm can read like an all out assault to the receiver. i think everyone here has the best intentions, and it looks like everyone was at least trying to remain gentleman like.     i share your vision and enthusiasm, i only wish i had a team the size of yours ...im one of those lone rangers that cant keep up with it all.    stick with it and keep us posted on your progress ...what your doing is a good thing, and with the right team and planning, it can work. i wish you the best and if i can help in any way, please let me know.

Without treading on anyones "dream"... Rob (Nash) makes an extremely valid point ... that is all to often, indeed usually... not accounted for....

 

And that's simply that there is a point of scale beyond which a one, or two person operation... just can not physically extend....

 

And the majority of the "commercial" systems that have popped up over the last year or two... are probably at that scale...

 

Beyond that involves labour hire... and a scale of production... that simple means you have to move the produce.. and that means wholesale pricings... not premium "niche" market, or direct market pricing....

 

And the scale of investment... pricing structure.. and labour/distribution costs.... becomes exponential....

 

You need to seriously convince yourself... that you have the market, capital, and personel...then I suggest you seek some serious aquaculture, hydroponics and horticultural training... assuming you already have the business training...

 

Then... it might work...

 

P.S... for what it's worth... I think you need a minimum $1 million+ capital investment...

It could be $1 million if you had to purchase everything new and the land but it all depends on the circumstances as well.

I spent 30K and have over 8000 holes for basil. My 2500 ft sq greenhouse is done and I am in fish-less cycling right now. I have a boiler to heat all my fish tank water and raft water using PEX in that cost. I have a 12x32 Utility room/nursery too start seedlings in, raise fish in, harvest in and use as a office all finished as part of that cost.  I have several controllers I made to run everything with a PC monitoring and collecting data all a part of that cost. 500 gallon water storage is done along with a wood fired boiler connected to the propane boiler. I am on 15 acres and ready to grow and work hard. When the first harvest comes I will be making a profit and will have to pay back 1 investor  12k in 3 years. I may need to hire someone to help me in the greenhouse part time but probably not. I will be okay with the living I receive from the income I get from this and pay back that investor his 12k.

If I were to have to purchase the land at 200k plus have a greenhouse paid for new at 50k, utility room at 20K and all the stuff done by professionals as far as the setup another 50K (boiler, stove, pex) and the tanks and grow equipment at 100k, a truck at 20k I would be at 440K to 500K with 8000 holes and if I wanted 32,000 holes then add another 500k and then you are correct to get to $1 million.

But because of my circumstances I will get to the 32000 holes to the total of 75k because my boiler will handle the 32000 holes as well as my stove and I have the power already there. I just have to build the greenhouse myself or find one that is been left for several years and get a great deal on it if I take it down myself and put it all back together. But that might add another 20K. I have been to several places in the US and they are all over the place abandoned and they are trying to get rid of them. I will have to get all the rafts up and fish tanks but after seeing Herban Farms set up I will look into what they did and see if it works and maybe add larger fish tanks like they did with grow out tables instead and do it all myself.

So it can be done for $1 million one way and a whole lot less the other if you have the know how on what to do or find people that help that have those skills to do what is needed on the construction side of things.

@Ryan keep on looking into this and continue with the investor because it is possible if you can get the help and others involved like you have and do it for a lot less.

Ok so I have update.. group was waiting for another kind soul to confirm their involvement in our project. We will be Doing our dry run in Montana. the land is already owned and 100% paid off, and we have 100% reign over 5 acres with a well, and a pond. Property already contains houses on it. As well as tractor. :) We will focus on a trial and error until we get it down 100%. That way we wont be dipping into our initial costs for property ect. There we will obtain our licenses for the state, and get up our websites and any other important aspects needed for growth. Once complete we will relocate to a thriving populace with green minded individuals to help make us successful in a ….shhh dont say it too loud .. co mm er ci al.. industry. My investor is a long time friend, and has the capital you speak of, and then some.. So there lol I said it.. We have no money problems.. We just need to do it right the first time :)

AHHHHHHH! im all fired UPPPPP :)



RupertofOZ said:

Without treading on anyones "dream"... Rob (Nash) makes an extremely valid point ... that is all to often, indeed usually... not accounted for....

 

And that's simply that there is a point of scale beyond which a one, or two person operation... just can not physically extend....

 

And the majority of the "commercial" systems that have popped up over the last year or two... are probably at that scale...

 

Beyond that involves labour hire... and a scale of production... that simple means you have to move the produce.. and that means wholesale pricings... not premium "niche" market, or direct market pricing....

 

And the scale of investment... pricing structure.. and labour/distribution costs.... becomes exponential....

 

You need to seriously convince yourself... that you have the market, capital, and personel...then I suggest you seek some serious aquaculture, hydroponics and horticultural training... assuming you already have the business training...

 

Then... it might work...

 

P.S... for what it's worth... I think you need a minimum $1 million+ capital investment...

Boy you left that one wide open Ryan!

I spent 4 years just north of San Francisco on the Marin/Sonoma county coast. Gorgeous, breathtaking really. Educated, forward-thinking, environmentally/socially active mindsets. Lots of good music. People actually read books! Location is extremely important to me so what else.? I have been away from there for 10 lightening fast, fly-by years so lots has changed but if you have to be or choose to be in the States I would say this has to be one of the very best places. Low key, great weather, people with flexible incomes and/or incomes they are willing to spend on something intelligent like AP. People willing to work with others. Even more than a semblance of "communuity" which, when I left was an endangered species. My understanding from travelers and clients here (I am back in So,. Mexico now), is that the major changes for the worse up there are because of the eroding political and economic situation and this , mainly from people who 10 years back would have been Republican, love-it-or-leave-it types who say that now , when they go back it is "scarier and scarier" so there must be something to it beyond a lot of lefty malcontents singing the blues. Don´t underestimate what they are doing to your constitution and civil rights Ryan. If...or when... it passes the point of no return, it won´t matter where you move unless it is across the nearest national border.

Reno, BTW, and in my very humble opinion, is a pit. Cold, transient, lots of the low-life environment that gambling, mafia, drugs and prostitution attracts. At least that was my impression 12-13 years ago. I´m sure it´s all better now (Yes we can!), a real Andy of Mayberry ambience.....Well, maybe not quite yet given the growth of the drug culture? Finally, and I know I mentioned cold, I get tired of 40-45°C  HOT temps we have here a couple of months of the year Ryan. Great for the Tilapia and the iguanas but....  I however NEVER EVER...miss the cold and working ...in the cold...and digging out of the snow and ice...in the cold... or overcast skies for 5-7 mos a year. Never, ever, ever miss that stuff and if you are considering AP as your next direction professionally? Hmmm..........

Best of luck Ryan! I respect your courage (and it does take courage!) to venture forth and to seek and make the life you want for yourself!

Saludos Cordiales,

Ing. Gil Romero

Panaba, Yucatán, Mexico

         How many people are in Denton TX? Is their a large segment of the population that is after the kind of food you produce? Get on the phone and talk to ALL casinos in Reno and find out if they will buy your products. This to get you started and then sell completely to the locals thru csa,farmers market, and restaurants. My 1cents worth. Joe GOOD LUCK!!

 

I'd pick outside of NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, just because I understand a bit about those markets.

I've run a successful contracting business for over a decade and my wife ran a restaurant for several years. we have many biz ppl in my family including a small farmer. here's .01 of my .02

In any business you need a product or service ppl demand, and a system to provide that in a profitable way. bootstrap start small and find that system to make a profit. read alot of books about general business principals. 

(rich dad poor dad, and The E myth) learn what a profit/loss statement is. know why cashflow is king. learn about financials. goto small biz workshops. talk to anyone who's been in business more than 3 years.

anyway, DFW is a huge metro area. I'd poke around and see if someone is growing organics there now. Get a job with them and I'd learn from them. its a free education, and you'll get paid too. you'll meet the contacts you'll need to be a success in AP.

good luck.

What about overseas? Do you konw of good place to market these would be?



Ryan Sala said:

I read, or actually saw a video about acompany in CA (Santa Cruz Aquaponics), and they had anticipated a huge profits in their area, and out the starting gate, CA had banned tilapia farming in his county. So I think it was a fresh issue for them at the time. They do have a video on Youtube. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE5kDwvcIRI

Theres another video on there.. but they say they are 6 miles from monterey.. No website, although they say contact us on our website, and their facebook is like a ghosttown. 

Found this 

http://tilapiafarmingathome.com/legal.aspx

BTW, I love Monterey.. went there 3 yrs ago… LOVED IT beautiful nice beach… people only kinda smell.



Chip Pilkington said:

For most of us, budget would certainly have to be factored in, but from a pure growing pleasure perspective, I'd farm in Northern California, on or near the coast, probably somewhere between Monterey and Half Moon Bay, mostly because of the amazing, year round growing season. I miss my winter gardens so much living over here....also, the cool breezes from the ocean extend the cool-loving crop seasons a bit into the Summer.

I lived in that area through the late 70's, early 80's and loved it. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've seen a big, beautiful artichoke from that area! 

If only all the people would just go away and the cost of living would come back down to Earth, I think my retirement mini-farm would land in that area. 

 

"Overseas" covers a pretty large area. I have found that AP in SE Asia works fine at the hobby/home use level, but you'd be hard pressed to make your million at it commercially. Having an too much food produced as it is, along with most people being too poor to purchase expensive AP produce (unfortunately, poverty trumps pesticide and chemical free), makes AP extremely hard to sell, outside of a very tight tourist/expat drivem hotel and restaurant market.

 

I'm curious as to progress of our gung-ho, millionaire-to-be Ryan. Six months ago he (and his group) were ready to go. Any updates?

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