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Design, setup and production from a Commercial Hydroponic Farm


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Old 10-31-2010, 11:19 AM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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Default Design, setup and production from a Commercial Hydroponic Farm

Whew! That title was a mouthful! haha

Another thread was starting to move this direction, so I thought I'd start one here to get that discussion out of the other thread about lighting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I am very interested in your progress on your setups and plans, as you know we have very similar goals. It's frustrating for me though right now because I just can't seem to come up with the money I need to get things rolling. I plan to start some commercial systems in the back yard, then when I have things dialed in. I have talked to a local nursery owner who has 9 acres of land that's willing to work something out with me setting up a commercial growing operation there at his nursery.
Hey GpsFrontier, I hear you about the money part. I couldn't get started on mine until after retiring. During my working life, there seemed to always be something else the money was needed for. Now, I live by myself and have almost everything I own paid for now, so I can shift some income into my planned for life hydroponic farm.

The *per/acre* amount of produce from a well run, organized hydroponic farm is truly astronomical. In Dr. Howard Resh's book "Hydroponic Food Production", he shows several farms from around the world. The numbers of plants in an acre, and the produce from those plants within one year is stunning in it's numbers.

For one old guy like me, I doubt very much that I could handle the picking, packing, transporting, unloading and selling of more than one acre of produce.

That will turn my life back into a job oriented existence again and that's something I *don't* want to do.

I have a college near me that has an Agricultural department and a dorm full of young people who need part time work. I think I may be able to invite the Head Professor of the Ag dept over to see my setup and discuss some credit based work for the students. I've heard of this being done elsewhere with great success.

The market side of the operation would have to be done by hired help, because I have no interest in doing it myself. Hell, I'm retired and staying that way! hehe

I love the setting up of hydroponic systems and the growing in them. I also love eating the produce.

If I were to only have one to provide me with veggies, I could do that in a pretty small greenhouse.

I really do want to get a commercial op going tho'. It would be a blast planning it all out, building it and making some bucks from it. Even if I broke even for a couple of years, it would just be fun.


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Originally Posted by halfway View Post
I am very interested in you gentlemen's progress toward the commercial side of your hydro efforts.

I am just starting the process, but my 3rd and 4th chess moves ahead have me entertaining the feasibility of not only feeding my family, but commercial ventures as well.

I look forward to seeing your progress and am very interested in what the number crunching turns up.
Hi halfway! Good to see you here posting again! Forums like this one and mine are for casual topic related conversations. Some folks avoid them because they feel *tense* about posting. That's nuts! Kicking back and just yakking it up like you would in your own living room with a glass of your favorite beverage is what it should be looked at like.

That said, there is a reason that most farmers don't convert their farms to hydroponic growing; costs.

The setup costs for a large scale op are pretty large. More than most farmers could handle on a private farming basis. Most farmers live year to year and have no real *extra* money after their kids future education, upkeep on their current farm property and ops and paying their hired help are output.

Most of the large scale hydroponic farms in the world today are new setups and are either government sponsored or built by people who are part of a coop or already wealthy. It takes *Millions* of dollars to setup a huge hydroponic farm.

I'm going a different direction.

My whole life, I've wanted to create a hydroponic garden that is modular and able to be built by a putting a *kit* together and run by a normal family or even a single family member.

The starvation that exists in the world today could be easily ended by using nothing more than world-wide hydroponic farming. I've punched the numbers and done all the math. I'm a retired database professional, so doing that type of *number crunching* was my bread and butter for more than 30 years.

I've combined my database abilities and my love for hydroponic gardening with my mind-numbing understanding of the numbers and cause of millions of people per/year who starve to death in our world in search of a possible solution to the unneeded waste of human life.

My goal is to build a modular system that will be easy to set up, be made of materials easily transported and purchased or made, and be large enough to provide the basic vegetables needed for survival and health of a family of ten.

I believe I've done all the planning needed and this winter, I'm building the prototype of the first version of this system.

In 2011, I'll prove that my system can be built and used by people with no formal education and in any country in the world.

I'm going to find a family here in my own area that fits that description and once and for all find out if this idea I've built in my mind will work or not.

I think it will. By the end of 2011, I'll know for sure. If it does, I'll find backers who will enable me to kick it off in a much, much larger way.

My goal is to have a system that can be carried by shoulder if necessary, setup, used and maintained by a single person and provide enough vegetables for a family of ten.

I'll use PVC and other plastics first, but intend to also make it so that it can be built from normal items available in most countries like bamboo and such.

2011 is going to be an exciting year for me.

The first question most have for me is "What about the pumps?"

Manually filled tanks using gravity fed systems are a way around the electric part of outdoor hydro. Hard work only if gearing isn't used. Even the poorest families can sometimes come up with some pretty ingenious methods of filling a water tank.

Well there you have it. You all know now what I'll be doing in 2011.

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Old 10-31-2010, 11:26 AM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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BTW, once I have this family sized system down, it will be able to be expanded by simply combining modules and using larger solution tanks to feed a village, a town or a full sized city.

The commercial application is endless, but my goal is to feed families, not my pocket. If it works out that I make a bunch of money from its commercial application, all the better, I have nothing against making money.
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:36 AM
Amigatec Amigatec is offline
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Keep us posted on the progress.
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Old 10-31-2010, 06:46 PM
halfway halfway is offline
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Excellent!

I'll opine a bit more when i get time.

But for now, youtube search "florida hydroponic farm for sale"

I'll provide a link when I get to a larger monitor. The guy has a nice setup in your home state and is looking to sell the whole thing.

Also google search aquaponic plans africa for a group that is doing something similar to your bigger plan.

Again, I'll provide links when I get a chance.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:29 PM
NorEastFla NorEastFla is offline
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Thanks halfway, I took a look at it. Wow, he could use some instruction on space management in the greenhouse he was standing in. Sparse, real sparse.

I'll bet the price tag that he conveniently didn't mention is through the roof.

Thanks man, but I prefer where I live now. hehe

"Aquaponics"...the new hydroponics.

As far as hydroponic application goes, it's neither an efficient way to grow fish or veggies unless done on a MASSIVE scale.

On a small scale, it's more cost efficient to just grow fish in a pond built for fish and veggies in a screened in greenhouse.

I'd love to read about the folks in Africa who are doing the hydro veggies.

Thanks again for the info!
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:16 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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For anyone that's interested in starting a hydroponic farming business (any business actually) I would suggest contacting your local SBDC (small business development center) office.

Here is a link to a state locater from the SBA website:
Small Business Administration - sbdc_locator_map

The SBA and SBDC are different but closely work together. Where the SBA mostly work to help people get the funding, the SBDC help the business succeed once they have the funding. There services are mostly free of charge. Including putting together the business plan that not only is necessary for getting a loan, but will dramatically increase your chances of the success even if you don't need one. Contact them to set up the free consultation, you will be amazed at what they can do to help. Trust me and make the phone call it will be well worth your time. I simply cant explain it all in a forum post.

I myself have done some number crunching (for the business plan), and found some good reliable information on growing particular crops, as well as projected income from a given number of plants (not acreage). But you do need to do the research (they can't/don't do it for you, it's a free service). But once you do the research they can advise you in the best options, and if the plan is feasible or not. They can even put you in contact with local business owners in the same type of business for free advice.

I have 20-25 years before I retire. So my goal is to make a business out of hydroponics now, and a "reasonable profit' in that time (hobby after that). So I do want to get a profit, but I know return on investment does not always go as planed. But planing is key to success ,that's why I suggest talking to the SBDC for anyone (It cant hurt).

For me I am interested in growing over twenty different crops, but it's important to have quantity (as well as quality) in the product for reliable sales. I'm planing on growing strawberry's as well as peppers at first. But plan to concentrate mostly on the strawberry's (year round) because out of season strawberry's are worth more than in season berry's (especially when grown local, ripe and fresh) for such a perishable product.

Here are some of the sources I used for my feasibility study to grow strawberry's
http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/files/pdf/...erry/98-04.pdf (note: page 5 at the bottom)
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PI/PI03700.pdf
http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/files/pdf/...erry/98-06.pdf
http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/files/pdf/...erry/98-05.pdf (note: page 3 at the bottom)
http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/files/pdf/...erry/98-05.pdf (note: page 4 at the bottom)

Another good read for strawberry's
Maximum Yield - Indoor Gardening

Also
The book "Hydroponic Strawberry production" by Dr. Lynette Morgan

P.S. I looked up that video, but I was not impressed. They talked more about the house than the hydo farm for one thing. Also there was very little that you can see about the hydro farm. From What I can tell from the video, it's a descent house on a good amount of land (nothing else). He mentioned a RO system, that doesn't mean much to me (no offense) because a unit that can produce 700 gallons per day only costs $300-$400. Compared the price of the land is nothing in comparison. Why did they not talk about the hydroponic systems (that's what they were trying to sell)?

P.S 2. I also agree that anyone should feel free to chime in just like they were talking in there own house to their friends. That's how I speak, that's how freely I expect others to speak. Just like in your living room there are bound to be disagreements, all I expect/ hope for is that it can be a civil disagreement. Bottom line, it takes more than one opinion to make the world go around (so help spin that big fat ball, it's heavy).
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 11-01-2010 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:47 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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P.S 3.
I' m interested in the paneling that you are using for the small greenhouse (even large one), allowing light in, insulation properties ctc.. But mostly cost of materials. Cost, plans, etc..
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Old 01-31-2011, 04:59 PM
stephanm11 stephanm11 is offline
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Default Modular progress...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorEastFla View Post
Whew! That title was a mouthful! haha


I'm going a different direction.

My whole life, I've wanted to create a hydroponic garden that is modular and able to be built by a putting a *kit* together and run by a normal family or even a single family member.


2011 is going to be an exciting year for me.

Well there you have it. You all know now what I'll be doing in 2011.

Hello NorEastFla!

I just saw this thread and am curious how you are progressing. I love the idea. I have been entertaining ideas similar to yours for a few years now and couldn't believe when I read that somebody else is already 'on the job'.

A few years ago I read about a wealthy investor(I think I read it in National Geographic) that wanted to give out loans, possibly grants, to innovative entrepreneurs that were looking to involve world wide philanthropy in their business model.

I have 16 years of Hydroponic experience and that was where my mind went to after reading about the investor. I have just moved to New York City to join my brother in work. We are starting a business that offers delivery, installation & maintenance of hydroponic systems.

We aim to appeal to architects & landlords, families, schools, senior centers,
and hotels. We are getting into this because we don't see anyone else doing it yet. My brother has the money making mind.

I have been a teacher and Nutrition Director/chef at two different schools out in Colorado over the years, and unlike my brother, I am mostly interested in the educational aspects/community building that could come from getting more Urban Gardening in inner cities.

Now I have recently made a new friend who just moved up to NY from Florida. She mentioned my idea of farm lockers(almost like a community garden, but with individual units under 1 roof) to an investor friend of hers, and now we are working up feasibility studies.

Apparently there are many strip malls/grocery stores going vacant in their part of Florida, and thought it would great use of the spaces available.

Thanks for your time, I just felt like making contact with you to cheer your efforts on!
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