New Hydroponic Business

Ashton, IL

I also posted this thread in the Hydroponic Gardening forum.
My boyfriend and I live on a family owned and operated farm. We are in the process of starting our own hydro farm and have been seeing a lot of data saying that most hydro farms fail within the first two years. The data seems to be 2-5 years old, so I'm wondering if this is still the case. If it is, why is this so? We would both like to farm full-time, within the next two years, but the marketing side of things seems a bit overwhelming.

My goal is to sell $8000, worth of produce on a monthly basis. I know this a tall order, but I also believe it can be done. There are no farms of this type within a 100 mile radius of us, plus we are within one hour of Chicago, Rockford, DeKalb, and Centeral Illinois. I feel our marketable area is, not only extremely large, but diverse.

I would appreciate any thoughts you all have on the business side of things, marketing, and maybe to help me see where I can potentially fail as a business owner. I want to come into this with a full understanding of the risks, problems, and potential of every aspect of owning a hydro farm. Also, have any of you attempted or currently employ aquaculture? I'd like to eventually do some of that as well.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

I think you are thinking on the wrong track. You will have to spend a huge amount of money on a operation that will produce that amount of income. Next, your weather will not accommodate growing year around without artificial heat. Unless you have the money in hand to do this, interest on a loan will kill you.
We started in 1985 with our market farm business. Very small at first, 3000 sq ft garden. Over the years we acquired greenhouses & equipment as we had cash to pay for it. All greenhouses & equipment bought used. It saves tons of money. We at one time had 18 acres of produce & many employees. We lost a lease on a 12 acre plot & it was the best thing that ever happened. We now have 5 acres of specialty vegetables & 5 greenhouse structures growing various items. Big crop is tomatoes in high tunnels, greenhouses with no artificial heat, about 500 plants. Also cucumbers & lettuce grown in high tunnels.
In the open field we grow lots of things in tunnels. Makes them earlier & markets like early. Our newest endeavor is hydroponic strawberries. 2000 plants last year, 3000 this year. Sold 1900 pints of berries.
All produce is sold retail at a Farmers Market. Wholesale prices will not cover cost of production.

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Ashton, IL

Thank you for the great information! I wasn't sure if I was thinking correctly or not. We do have a heated Morton building that would allow us to grow some, not all things year round. I have a ton more research to do, but from what I am understanding, keeping it small is the way to go? Also, utilizing our farmers markets?
To me that sounds like a better option than trying to wholesale product to grocers and restaurants. I'm sure I'll have many more questions, so thanks for your help!

Richmond, TX

Unless you are a very large operation, the farmers' market or pick-your-own approach are definitely the only chance for profit. Good luck!

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