On January 11th we had our first warehouse tour. I thought there would be 10-20 people here. There were 50+.
It was an exciting day of sharing ideas, discussing issues, and planning for the future. A lot of people came with technical questions that I had no idea how to answer, but others in the crowd who are more experienced in aquaponics were also able to offer their expertise.
One thing I noticed when talking to people is that there is a draw to get really excited about aquaponics as a concept, and push the business aspect aside. If you plan to run a commercial aquaponics operation, at a very minimum you should know the following things:
1. What are you going to produce?
The fewer things, the better. Specialization is key in the beginning.
2. How much yield you will get per plant?
How many tomatoes and how much will each tomato weigh? What is the average weight of usable product you will get per plant?
3. How much money can you get per plant?
Take the average yield and find out what the market value is for that number in your area. You can produce 15lbs of tomatoes per plant? How much can you sell that for?
4. How many plants can you fit in 1 square foot of grow space?
Do you need 1 square foot per plant? 4 square feet per plant? 1/10th of a square foot per plant? Obviously, it’s best to pack your plants as tight as possible while still keeping them healthy and getting the same yield.
5. What are your costs per square foot of grow space?
Start small. Take the cost of lighting, rent, inputs (like seeds, seedling media, fish food, fertilizers), and divide the costs by the total square feet of grow space those inputs will supply.
In order to run a profitable business, your profit (how much money you can get per square foot of grow space) has to be higher than your cost (per square foot of grow space).
Know the numbers before you get into the business, and you will have a much easier ride.
As always, remember to Live Local and support local business!
P.S. Check out the pictures of the tour below!