I've decided to follow the conclusions that I drew in a paper I wrote about aquaponic business.
I am actively pursuing (and now have two clients set up) for restaurants that are interested in getting micro-herbs and basil. I will begin selling in another few weeks, once I can pull a harvest on the micro basils I have going (cinnamon, thai, and purple). I can find more chefs, but with only 2 sq ft of grow area, I'm going to be limited on production, and I'd like to be able to offer a more consistent supply.
Are there aquaponists in Colorado interested in marketing basil or other herbs? I am working through established relationships with local restaurants, and chefs that I'm friends with. If you have produce that you're growing that you're certified for (or seeking certification - the food safety certification process being what it is) can you please contact me. I can move product. What I'm doing now will be small scale enough that I'm expecting to use the funds to improve my certification. I'm serve-safe certified, and I'm taking a much more aggressive management approach to the system. I will be getting tilapia into the tank asap, but as for microgreens, I believe I can establish a first harvest with the meager 80 ppm nitrates I'm currently running in the fishless tank.
I've got a potential buyer for the fish too, so that's a marketing aspect I'd like to help others develop. If any of you are familiar with "Fish" in Fort Collins, I've spoken to the owner and he avoids farmed fish like the plague because of the filthy production involved with traditional aquaculture, but he's open minded about Aquaponics. I can help with branding (if you'd prefer to avoid that headache) or you can sell the product to me, and I'll carry it on my label and LLC, Hydrorium Sustenance. (After seeing your facilities, aquaculture and aquaponic management, and under the assumption that you're not using chemical cheats, although I've decided that sustainable is a better tag than Organic, due to the issues with non-organic feed, I'm still recalcitrant to flatly refer to it as organic, sustainable is more honest for the time being.) As a former Executive Chef, with a 25 year history with food, I can make critical judgements as to quality and determine what restaurants want to see. FYI - current basil price is floating at about $20/lb retail (meaning I can afford to buy it for about $12), could you use that money?
As it sits now, I do not have a reefer truck or distribution facilities, but am applying for loans to create those components.
This is a very real business opportunity, or at least a chance to make a little money off your systems. If you have herbs to sell, feel free to contact me directly by email, as I could market products as soon as yesterday. I know that this will build from two clients upward, but as with anything, I must prove it's possible, and generating a larger, steady supply will more easily help achieve that end.
BTW - I seeded yellow tomatoes as well, I'm aiming for a high dollar return when I harvest them in January. $45/lb (retail) for high grade heirloom tomatoes in January...