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:
- 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.
- Determine the labor requirements of pond fish production added to existing farm operations.
- Bring fresh fish access into a food system that is short of local options, particularly in winter and early spring.
- Share findings through on farm field/sale day, presentations at aquaculture meetings and you tube videos of the process.