Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

A little history about myself, I was born and raised in a small town in the state of Georgia. After high school, I joined the Marines (13 years now). I was trained in hydraulics, fiberglass, and metal repairs for basic training on helicopters. I did a couple of years as a recruiter. I have since moved up to more of a management level for the past 5 years dealing about 12-14 helicopters and 150 maintainers.

About three weeks ago, I went to a class the military offers to everyone who is getting out of the service.  One of the classes was about owning your own business. It was very short and left me with questions and ideas. Like, how I would really love to work for myself and only have one boss (the wife) compared to many I have had in past.

Google up! What kind of business can I start with the help of the VA? I looked at many with little interest until I came upon aquaponics, which knocked me for a loop with all the ideas it brings. I looked at some other business ideas just to cover the basis of not leaving a stone unturned. I came to the conclusion really quick that nothing else was grabbing at me like aquaponics did.

So, my mind is made up to getting in the business of organic foods with aquaponics as the main source with helping support of other organic farming ideas.

Things I bring to the table:

- A bit of mechanic skills

- A bit of sale experience

- A bit of management knowledge

- Most importantly 2 hands, 2 feet, and a pair of jeans, like every other successful person puts on just like me

Things I need at the table:

- A business plan

- Land

- Funds

- Support of knowledge, experience, and the assistants of other Americans with big hearts to help one another

Any comments you can think of to help me reach my dream will be greatly appreciated. Please, don’t hold and questions or comments back. You learn from the good and the bad.

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Wanna build something in China?

Recommend taking some tours of existing commercial aquaponics facilities.

I have been in Japan for almost 3 years now and before that a lot of time in Iraq, so honestly no. After, I get back to Georgia for a while,get set up and learn a thing or 2, I would not mind.

Carey Ma said:

Wanna build something in China?

I would love to do that, but I'm on a small island of Japan right now. I will research and see if there is any in Georgia and then move out to find the closest one.

RW said:

Recommend taking some tours of existing commercial aquaponics facilities.

Keep in mind that while aquaponics is very exciting to many people who just discover it,  doing aquaponics as a business is really "farming" and farming as a business is generally a lot of hard work for minimal return. 

You have to love it and love doing it because it isn't like you get to take a holiday whenever you need a mental health day.  It is likely that you will have to work hard for quite a while before you can really afford to hire some one who can cover things while you get to take your first vacation in how ever many years.

Aquaponics as a commercial venture is still a relatively rare thing and there are few successful commercial operations that have been in operation for more than a few years so it isn't like there is a tried and tested formula to follow to get it right.  You definitely need to find a niche market.  Do lots of research before you jump in with big money.  I highly recommend getting a backyard scale system going for yourself and family so you can learn a bit, gain some first hand experience and decide if it's really what you want to do large scale.

In the UK there's a law that go's back to WW2, you know... 'grow for your country' if you can get 6 people to sign up, the council are obliged to give you land to grow food on for free, not sure if there's anything like it in America? 'old' people, farmers or just people that don't like to look after a garden - sometimes offer land share/ to people that want to grow stuff, try the internet for a 'scheme' in your area!

Your 'fibreglass' skills will be very handy: google/you tube - wood fish tanks

also try google warehouse for idea's (aquaponics IBC tanks are good key words) you need google sketchup to view/draw models... It's very basic/free to use for a rough idea how you want to set up tanks/grow beds/poly-tunnel (would look impressive on a business plan)

here's a good example: http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=cc0f4b9b7103917b...

A old man told me he grew 1,000,000 leaks last year on a large allotment, he sold them to local supermarkets for 10p each... this has given me a lot of inspiration... he also told me I did as much work in one day as most of the guys do in a week...!!! hahaha

I do thank you for your response and your advice to not get carried away too fast. I do realize aquaponics is new and a lot things will probably change as more data is brought to light. There is a saying I learned many years ago though, probably by a farmer, don't put all your eggs in the same basket.  My plan will include different sources of income, that's why I said an organic farmer. Far as hard work, I don't know how much you know about the Marines, but there are far and few jobs that are easy. I normally work 12-14 hours a day already for minimal pay. I think the rewards of my current job and farming are very similar though. There's no better feeling than seeing the results of your labor.

When I do get back to states, I do plan on seeing as many set ups of others as I can. I kind of looked over the link on here to see how many others are doing this in my area and I didn't notice any commercial set ups, so I might have to do some traveling. Even, if I have to attend one of the classes/schools. 

Once again, thanks for advice and please keep it coming on any new post. 

The biggest 

TCLynx said:

Keep in mind that while aquaponics is very exciting to many people who just discover it,  doing aquaponics as a business is really "farming" and farming as a business is generally a lot of hard work for minimal return. 

You have to love it and love doing it because it isn't like you get to take a holiday whenever you need a mental health day.  It is likely that you will have to work hard for quite a while before you can really afford to hire some one who can cover things while you get to take your first vacation in how ever many years.

Aquaponics as a commercial venture is still a relatively rare thing and there are few successful commercial operations that have been in operation for more than a few years so it isn't like there is a tried and tested formula to follow to get it right.  You definitely need to find a niche market.  Do lots of research before you jump in with big money.  I highly recommend getting a backyard scale system going for yourself and family so you can learn a bit, gain some first hand experience and decide if it's really what you want to do large scale.

Thanks for the advice, I have been online looking for IBC's already. I'm trying to see if companies just give them away or sell them for cheap after they are finished with them, because there is a lot of people on craigslist selling them. If I can gets my hands on a lot, I will make some kits to sale to others.

 As for the govt helping or others with land, I'm going to look hard into that. I do not know of this programs, but definitely will be worth a little research. I wished I had attended FFA (Future Farmers of America) or 4H when I was kid. 

The sketch up info is awesome. I have never heard of it. The advice from the elder generations is priceless and normally free to anyone willing to listen. 


Rave said:

In the UK there's a law that go's back to WW2, you know... 'grow for your country' if you can get 6 people to sign up, the council are obliged to give you land to grow food on for free, not sure if there's anything like it in America? 'old' people, farmers or just people that don't like to look after a garden - sometimes offer land share/ to people that want to grow stuff, try the internet for a 'scheme' in your area!

Your 'fibreglass' skills will be very handy: google/you tube - wood fish tanks

also try google warehouse for idea's (aquaponics IBC tanks are good key words) you need google sketchup to view/draw models... It's very basic/free to use for a rough idea how you want to set up tanks/grow beds/poly-tunnel (would look impressive on a business plan)

here's a good example: http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/details?mid=cc0f4b9b7103917b...

A old man told me he grew 1,000,000 leaks last year on a large allotment, he sold them to local supermarkets for 10p each... this has given me a lot of inspiration... he also told me I did as much work in one day as most of the guys do in a week...!!! hahaha

If you want some inspiration.. and examples of how to use IBC's.... download this free 167 page "interactive" PDF ...

 

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/Travis/IBCofAquaponics1.pdf

There is an aquaponic business in New York that just secured a multi-year contract with the military.  It is run by old brass.  The name is escaping me at the moment, but surely one of these other folks will know whom I'm referring to.

IBC's are great!  And definitely use them for a personal backyard system.  However, for a commercial system I recommend you definitely have some documentation about what was in them to prove that you are not leaching anything harmful into the food you are growing.  Our silly sue happy society has unfortunately made this sort of thing necessary.

I definitely respect that the Marines know how to work hard and I do think that for many in the military farming may be a good choice.  What better way to continue serving than by protecting water and food security right here at home!

However, I make the recommendation not just for you but the huge influx of people I see wanting to get into this.  It seems many people seem to think they can have a commercial scale aquaponics system set up and just operate the business from their computer or something.  I can attest that backyard type aquaponics is great and easy gardening but as soon as you are trying to sell produce, you don't get to go on holiday or travel for other work without disrupting your marketing terribly, at least if your produce is a product people expect/want on a constant/consistent schedule.  Different story with crops that have a limited harvest/marketing season.

Anyway, Hope to see you when you get back

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