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 Dave Lindstedt on May 10, 2013 at 8:36am

Only fish I have sold has been live fingerlings (about 3 to 4 months old) at 50 cents each. (Tilapia)

Comment by TCLynx on May 10, 2013 at 8:23am

Only way I have sold any fish has been whole or live.  Basically a neighbor comes over and wants some fish, we net them out into a cooler of ice and they take them home to clean them.

Or some one wants fingerlings and they come over with an aerator and cooler or bucket.

Comment by Dave Lindstedt on May 10, 2013 at 8:10am

For most small farmers the cost of organic certification is a cost that is difficult to be justified. Many of us just see it as one more level of government  bureaucracy. In any small business, your name and reputation, has much greater value than some government stamp of approval.  More simply stated, would be "Organicly grown".  I am one of the few "aquaponic  growers".  Some do grow "hydroponicly" but most grow in dirt under "organic" conditions.

 

A bigger problem comes when you want to sell your fish (as food).  I would like to hear how others have handled that problem.  

Comment by TCLynx on May 10, 2013 at 6:31am

I only brought up the Organic certification because you said they sold only Organic and legally you can't claim you are organic unless you have that government interaction and get the certification.

Comment by Dave Lindstedt on May 9, 2013 at 10:12pm

The Suncoast co-op, has many "home made " items such as candles, baked breads, yogurt and other "creative items".

I have had good success propagating fig , dragon fruit and other food plants from cuttings. All of which sell well and for a premium, but at or below local Lowes & Home Depot prices..

I have built 2 4x8 6 inch raised beds for root vegtables, that have not done well my aquaponics system.

As to organic certification.... forgive me but I want as little interaction with government as possible. 

Comment by TCLynx on May 9, 2013 at 6:28am

Rick,

The discussion about Organic can be a complex one, it will depend on your market if it will be worth it.  In some places and if you are large enough to be selling wholesale to large grocery chains, then getting the Organic cert would be worth it.  If you are marketing and selling direct to customers through farmers markets, Local produce stands and direct farm sales and via subscription, it may be far more location dependent to figure out if the organic certification is going to earn you enough more on your produce to justify the added expense of getting certified and STAYING certified.

If you know your customers personally and they know what your farm is about, they are far less likely to want to pay extra for you to get certified (at least here the part of FL I'm in.)  Now I know farms in California that sell at markets where you better have that Organic certification because no one will even walk close to your booth unless they see the magic words in your sign.

Some of this is due to the fact that many really small local growers have little to no chance in affording the certification and the growth of the Local food movement.  And then there is the fact that many of the really big name agribusiness and food corporations have managed to get so much allowed into the "organic" regulations that more and more people are less and less impressed by that word in Marketing.

So, I would say Do careful research to help you decide what to grow and if it makes sense for you to go Organic.  There are only limited methods in aquaponics that will "easily" get you the organic certification.  So if you are not carefully following those methods and using all the right materials, you may have to go through a lot more time, hassle and expense to get your certification than if you are following one of the presidents exactly.

As far as I know, hybrid systems haven't gotten certified.

Comment by Rick kolb on May 9, 2013 at 12:39am

Kim,

You want to grow varieties that are comparable in appearance  to what is being sold conventionally (Non-organic). Most customer are looking for a variety that is similar to what is on the shelf. Example if your grocery store does not sell an oak leaf green leaf lettuce on the conventional rack, do not grow some and expect people to grab it up. Now it is true that you will have some people looking for that variety but when you are looking for the masses( more money) you need to grow a variety that people are use to seeing. Also size is important, many organic growers will try to sell a smaller head of lettuce compared to what the conventional size is, but this can hurt your sales. First you are more expensive then conventional so you sell less and second the head is smaller so my perceived value is reduced by how little I'm getting for my money.

If your customer ( the shopper in the store not the grocery store) sees that your product is a little more money but looks the same, grown locally, fresher, and is organic it now has a better value to the shopper and can justified the higher price.

I'm sorry I did not ask if you were organic..... ( my rant above was assuming you were) if not, you should be. It will allow you to charge more.

Make sure that your bag or label clearly explains your key points.

Local, sustainable agricultural, smaller carbon foot print, etc...

Comment by TCLynx on May 8, 2013 at 6:04pm

Dave, do you have organic certification?

I sell produce through the Orlando Home Grown Co-op.  they don't allow any traditional chemical farmed products but they don't require organic certification though they do inspect farms before they allow new farms to join.

They do the online ordering have two weekly pickup days and also have a brick and mortar store that is open 7 days a week.  Unfortunately the co-op takes 36% to cover overhead and the store.  Theoretically you take an invoice in with each order and on Wed each week they are supposed to be cutting checks for the previous weeks sales.

Comment by Dave Lindstedt on May 8, 2013 at 3:06pm

From a commercial stand point, we have a major problem that never gets talked about and that is marketing!  I have teamed up with the "Suncoast Co-op". This group is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity. They take a 10% commission and sell only organic produce via a local market and a membership web site.  Merchandise for sale is posted by me on Sunday evening. Buyers post their orders by noon on Thursday.  I deliver the orders, and get paid, Saturday AM prior to 11:00 AM.  I take a few "extra" items for the "Market"  which sells direct to the public until 2:00 PM.  Those sales I collect the funds for the following week.  So part of this is building a customer base. 

Comment by TCLynx on May 7, 2013 at 7:59am

Rick,

   the topic you mention there is probably worth starting a Discussion on this group about.

Kim, Keep in mind that the best variety to grow is going to be the one that grows well for you in your climate/situation and provides the best margin and the least trouble for you.  It takes a lot of time during the start up/research phase of an operation to figure out what grows best, has the least problems AND can be grown profitably.  What sells best in one location is likely to be vastly different in another location.

Kim, you have an interesting situation there.  Do some market research while you are also doing variety trials.  Find out what the store wants to stock.  Find out what the customers want to buy.  And test seed varieties that will fill those needs and figure out the costs to see if you can price them appropriately to get you some profit while also being able to sell.

That is one of the hardest things for a small operation.  You have to charge enough to cover your costs and be able to make a living BUT if that means you have to charge 6 times more than the going price for the regular produce people can get, you probably won't be able to sell.  This is a big reason that I recommend people NOT go into debt to start up a farm or aquaponics operation.  If you are not only having to cover the operation costs but also pay on a loan especially through the first couple years of operation (when you are likely still figuring out what to grow and how much it costs and how much you can get) it is very likely that people in this situation go under.

 

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