Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Produce Marketing

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Produce Marketing

The truth is you don't make any money growing vegetables.  To make money  you have to sell the vegetables.  At least 80% of a commercial aquaponic farm business has basically nothing to do with aquaponics.  So instead of talking about commercial aquaponics, I want this group to be about selling produce.

Members: 64
Latest Activity: Apr 13

Discussion Forum

Farm Marketing Living Produce

Started by TCLynx. Last reply by Candis Kalley Sep 24, 2014. 5 Replies

I'm looking for ideas here and I may come up with a few to share.Biggest issue I see at the moment is how the heck to haul living produce to market and keep it looking marketable during transport and…Continue

Marketing/Sales Mix

Started by Jon K. Last reply by TCLynx May 7, 2013. 5 Replies

Thanks TCLynx for starting this group.  I have been working on how to transition from the 9 to 5 to working at the homestead so this is extremely timely.  We are trying to establish a true…Continue

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Comment by Nance Black Woods on May 16, 2013 at 11:56am

OH yes, I'm starting small.   I'll be 62 this summer and am looking to get this started so I can supplement my diet and income - not get rich.  :D  Definitely not going to go into big debt to start anything.  My soil here isn't good so I haven't been able to grow much and this is definitely a viable option.    Gardening has always been a passion of mine but since moving here its been frustrating.  So glad I found this method and group!   Thanks to my friend in Clermont, FL I discovered that this was being done and am taking classes when I can find them.   Thanks everyone for the input!

Comment by John Cubit on May 16, 2013 at 10:49am

TCLynx is absolutely right.  And in all honesty AP does help you start small, good way to get a feel for what you can really grow and what quality you can grow, especially in your region, some plants that do well in soil have not translated well to AP and others that I have had terrible problems with are flourishing well, thanks to tips from TCLynx, Vlad and others here (for the life of me I can grow the largest tomato vines in AP but never get a tomato  ).  Keep good records, cost of seeds, water, tanks, pumps totes, feed.  Frequent the farmers markets see what they sell their products for.  Talk to the small farmers there, you will be surprised how many of them love to talk about the business and how they started and what they grow.

I will say that the farming part is not something I try to do for money but for the want and love of it.  I know my business is making habanero based foods, sauces, salsa, chutney and various other unique concoctions  like habanero wine and black pepper vodka, I only turn to AP as a means to make my own raw materials in a more cost effective manner.

Nance Black Woods, with the USDA I stated at the link below.  Read, research and ask questions.  As much as I despise much of the Government and all the entities, they are a wealth of knowledge as well as your states co-operative extension, and I know Texas has a wonderful COE program.  Just need to ask the questions.

USDA Link

Comment by TCLynx on May 15, 2013 at 8:16pm

I'll make a recommendation here, start small!  If you have to go into debt to get going with an aquaponic operation, you may find it really tough going trying to make ends meet while also trying to make loan payments.  Farming is one of the worst businesses to have to go into debt to do since it tends to be so hard and unpredictable the income.  (this actually has very little to do with aquaponics, farming in general costs alot and doesn't make a return very fast.)

Comment by Nance Black Woods on May 15, 2013 at 10:56am

Thanks, John.  I'll see what Texas has available.

Comment by John Cubit on May 15, 2013 at 8:13am

Nance Black Woods, The USDA has Farm Loan Programs that are run via individual states Farm Agencies.  In NY the FSA, Farm Service Agency, does it.  The assistance other than financial has been with business plan review, guiding new farmers, through the process of, starting a farm, financing and farm business management.  They have offered courses, sponsored by the USDA, Farm Bureau, or NYS FSA, on various agriculture business subjects as well as other topics such as "Farm to Market".  The state offers special legal services through lawyers that specialize in agriculture and small business.  The assistance has been wonderful as they review the business plans, offer suggestion for changes, do's and don'ts.  The USDA and NYS FSA have put us in touch with other farmers specializing in artisan type farms, which has helped with some partnerships, where one may offer something that the others don't have and we compliment each other and assist in growing and developing our crafts.

Comment by Dave Lindstedt on May 14, 2013 at 8:17pm

My experience in raising the fish is  #1 keep the water moving!  My sump pumps run 24/7.  and #2  give the fish room!  When you put the fish in the tank  they are about 1 oz. fingerlings.  In 8 to 10 months they will have increased 16 times in size.  Mature fish will need 5 to 7 gallons of water per fish.  I had approx. 400 tilapia in 1,255 gallons over 5 tanks.  I now just added another tank of 275 gallons and have another 275 gallon tank to be added in 2 months,  but I'll  will have to pick up additional tankage before September or start harvesting fish for sale as food.

Comment by Nance Black Woods on May 14, 2013 at 2:33pm

John - what kind of help are you getting from the USDA and Farm Bureau?   Thanks

Comment by John Cubit on May 10, 2013 at 2:19pm

TCLynx: Thanks, I have talked with two so far that will pickup but only once a contract is signed.  I don't have the business setup yet so I can not set a promised qty for them.  One is looking for 100 Tilapia a month @ $2/lb with pickup.  But then there is all this if I don't meet the Qty, they can drop the contract.  As for vegetables they gave me a list of what they want and qty per month.  It has help with business planning but thus far $$, and the business plan are not up to snuff.  I am getting help from the USDA and Farm Bureau. So on that note the AP setup is heavily being redesigned to meet the business needs and also fit a niche of out of season items grown fresh.  As you know it is hard to compete with the big grocery stores that get a leaf lettuce bundle on shelves for $1.99, when I am selling it for $2.99 at the Farmers Market.  Even though AP was not originally for me to be a "farmer" with fish being the supplement item to sell.  I just wanted to produce my raw materials for my salsa and sauce business, to reduce those production cost.  I just keep getting sucked in further to other aspects.

I really would recommend that anyone wanting to do this check with getting a table at a Farmers Market.  Some will give you space for free or at a minimal charge.  Take your farm fresh  items you have grown and place them out and get to know the people at the market.  Find out what are they looking for.  See if you can fill that niche.

If all goes as you expect step it up a notch at the Farmers Market.  Fred, who is retired, sells at our farmers market.  Did not start urban farming till just before he retired.  He decided to try to sell his veg and spices at market.  He had a hell of a time.  But he realized after 3 months of sticking with it that he was selling out of Lavender, dill, cayenne, and other spices.  He pulled all his plants got a greenhouse and started planting only herbs.  After the first season he sold more dried herbs and spices than anyone and he only had to dry them, and bag them, with a nice label all at home and free of any licenses or state regulations because they are dried spices and herbs but still fresh, usually less than a week in the bags.  He now has 4 greenhouses on his city lot with his house and he is making more money than he does from his retirement a month, all year long in the North East.  Because he took the lumps and wasn't stubborn to give the shoppers what they want.

Comment by TCLynx on May 10, 2013 at 1:00pm

John, I know of some people who grow out fish for the live asian markets and the markets take care of coming and getting and transporting the live fish so it might be worth finding out if any of the asian markets in your area will come pick up the fish.

But I figure the fish are primarily for Us/friends/neighbors and I'm selling the veggies.

Comment by John Cubit on May 10, 2013 at 10:37am

Selling fish, though can be profitable, in NY is a royal pain.  Can't sell live fish at the farmers market (their rules).  Can sell live fish with a permit (State Law).  Can sell headless fish at Farmers Market, but state law requires a processing permit to clean the fish unless body is intact and not gutted.  To get a NY processing permit  you need a USDA certification and have a " clean" facility.  You also need a disposal permit for the remains as well as a certified water capture unit to prevent dischage in to a public water system with out first filtering fish remains.  Wait did I say it was profitable or impossible?

The asian markets are about the only ones who want to buy live fish, because their mongers take care of it all based on what customers want.  Typically in my area they will pay $2.00 per lb. of Tilapia, $3.50 per lb. of Trout and up to $5/lb for Salmon.  Catfish/Bullhead they pay .75/lb.  Of course with that on the table now I would need to add live tanks to the truck so I can transport as well as a NYS Permit to transport live fish, in case I crash and dump the fish in to some waterway....so they tell me.

 

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