Let me start out with a disclaimer. I am very new to hydroponics and I am not laying this out today as a cut and paste template. Additionally there are already hundreds of highly successful hydroponic farms out there form 1,000 square feet to 10s of acres. Some of them are highly efficient to the point of not much more can be leaned out. It is a business and a highly predictable one compared to many other forms of farming. So some of what I say today may be totally wrong.
It is a thought experiment I have been running though based on a few concepts. First that when it comes to farming growing is not as critical as marketing and sales, specifically at small scale and non storable commodity crops. I have no doubt I could set up a system that produces 100 or 1000 heads of lettuce a day, but it if doesn’t sell, what do you have.
The next concept is that local food is a huge movement right now. So many “farm to table” restaurants and stores have popped up. Yet having visited many of them I can tell you there is a LOT of room in this space. A typical meal with 5-10 ingredients will be lucky to be 50% truly locally produced.
The next concept is that restaurants are very good at forecasting need. When we had restaurants for our duck egg business, one store took 20 dozen a week, every week for two years. We loved them and they loved us. Due to this need though many restaurants use big companies. They have catalogs and you want 8 pounds of arugula every Tuesday, tick a box and it shows up. Yet what if we took that concept to local year round production?
Then how much expense can we learn out, how much premium can we charge our customer and justifiably so? I would much rather increase my revenue by 25% via charging my customers more then producing 25% more product. There will be major holes in the concept I lay out today, but it will be a fun thought experiment. It also may lead some of you down the road to running a farm based business. Perhaps hydro, perhaps aquaponic, may be typical market gardening. The over all concepts here are designed mostly around getting customers, making them feel special and doing for them what they didn’t realize can be done. Trust me that works in any business.
Join Me Today to Discuss…
- Why I am considering hydroponics for this concept
- Honestly it is my current obsession
- Tailored to year round consistent production
- Can be climate independent
- Modular expansion on demand
- Ideal for short duration crops
- With Kratky it can be almost zero energy input
- What I would consider doing for production in my climate
- Greenhouse based, shade in summer, sun in winter, minimal supplemental heat
- Most crops done with Kratky shallow flat beds – zero energy inputs
- Trail hundreds of varieties of crops, build a catalog on what works, include seasonal variations
- Get absolute rock solid cost of goods sold numbers, time to market form sowing, etc.
- The marketing and sales presentation
- Catalog of produce would be 15-30 items (again seasonal variations)
- One grow bed/section would be designated the marketing production bed
- A chef would be given a full assortment of produce as a sample
- Full professional sales presentation including the value add sales material for them to use
- Chefs could select exactly what they want with know costs and delivery for a full season
- They would get a designated space (added when they sign) for their production
- Its all just an idea but one that could scale easily and apply to other markets, products and methods
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- Christmas for Cowboys – John Denver
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