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Resources in Aquaponics: Farm Business Planning

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Resources in Aquaponics: Farm Business Planning

Many aquaponic gardeners start small and eventually expand to larger farming operations. And while one may have the skills to successfully manage an aquaponic system, developing a larger operation requires some business guidance and development of a business plan.

For this reason, AquaGrove researched and identified useful business resources for those looking to create an aquaponic farming business; as a result, we found that the EPA released an “Aquaponics Business Plan User Guide” that provides step-by-step tips and strategies for launching an aquaponic farming business.

According to the Guide, the development of this resource began in 2011, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook to provide guidance for developing a business plan for the startup and operation of an urban farm. While the Handbook acknowledged aquaponics as a method for producing food in an urban environment, its primary focus was on food and non-food related cultivated agriculture.

Since development of the Handbook, there has been a growing interest and demand in urban aquaponic farms as a sustainable method to provide a source of healthy, fresh, and cost-effective protein and vegetables to the local community; additionally, communities have recognized the value such farms provide in the form of job and educational opportunities for citizens. According to the EPA, the booming interest in urban aquaponic farms can be partly attributed to the ability to utilize brownfields, underutilized properties, and vacant buildings in or near large population centers for aquaponics operations.

Because of the differences in production systems between cultivated agriculture and aquaponics, the Aquaponics Business Plan User Guide has been developed to provide guidance for developing an operating strategy specific to an aquaponic farm. This User Guide is modeled after the original Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook and provides an outline and guidance for the development of a business plan for an aquaponic farm.

The Aquaponics Business Plan User Guide includes the following sections:

 • Overview – vision, mission, and goals for the farm, including aquaponic farm planning.

• Organization and Management – describes the ownership and management structures of the business.

• Marketing Strategy – identifies the products to be produced, analysis of the market and competition, and approach for packaging, distribution, and promotion.

• Operating Strategy –product management, farm size and capacity, resources, and regulatory requirements.

• Financial Strategy – estimates of income and expense, expected profit and loss, fixed asset requirements, potential funding sources, and potential risks.

An urban aquaponic farm can be established as a nonprofit organization, community or neighborhood-based urban farm or a for profit urban farm business. No matter which type of farm you are looking to develop, it is important for those establishing an urban aquaponic farm to create a plan for the start and operation of the farm. A proper business plan maps out the strategies for the business, tracks progress in relation to established goals, and helps investors feel confident that they will see a return on their investment.  Additionally, a business plan can assist in securing additional funding and bring on new partners; it is an essential tool that you can use to inform others who are working with you that you have made a solid decision in starting your aquaponic farming operation.

To read more published by the EPA as listed above and gain access to the EPA’s User Guide visit: Aquaponics Business Plan User Guide. To learn more about sustainable agriculture and gardening through AquaGrove aquaponics, contact us.