Revisiting Farm Diversification through Trout and Walleye Food Fish Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $8,932.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Strawridge Farm
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Carolyn Orr
Strawridge Farm


  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture, meat product quality/safety, processing regulations
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-restaurant
  • Production Systems: Pond Culture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal summary:

    We are facing a very poor farm economy with significant pressure on small farmers to make their farm profitable.  Twenty years ago researchers showed that pond culture of fish could be profitable on a small scale.  Researchers felt that increasing fish consumption and declining fish stocks were important factors to support farm level fish production.  These factors are even more important today.

    One thing that has changed dramatically is the importance to end consumers of buying local and knowing the source of their food. Other changes include greater recognition of the importance of water quality and reduced feed cost.  It is the ideal time to revisit the opportunities aquaculture may offer on a small scale. 

    We will be using an existing farm pond to cage raise trout and walleye.  The fish will be stocked in October and the trout harvested in May. The labor requirements fit into most crop operations.

    We will focus on the process of marketing these fish live, both through a field day and special orders at  the pond as well as to local restaurants.  We found no research focusing on providing a community with a source of fresh fish or on direct marketing of live fish.  Labor requirements and expenses will be recorded and analyzed.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Provide farmers with another option to improve farm profitability by determining the economic feasibility of diversifying the farm by adding pond fish production with local marketing to end users.
    2. Determine the labor requirements of pond fish production added to existing farm operations.
    3. Bring fresh fish access into a food system that is short of local options, particularly in winter and early spring. 
    4. Share findings through on farm field/sale day, presentations at aquaculture meetings and you tube videos of the process.   
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.