Aquaponics and tourism
The principle for most aquaponic farmers is very simple: get the most number of fishes and plants to the consumers with minimum human involvement, therefore the concept of inviting numerous visitors onto your farm is often counter intuitive but it does offer an opportunity for everyone to increase value for all the people involved. The farmer can builds brand awareness, Spread financial risk and tap into free labor while the visitor gets to experience pleasant food production up close. Factory farms do not provide a very pleasant experience and the peaceful environment of an aquaponic system is now in high demand.
Integrating aquaponics with tourism
Integration of tourism and aquaponics has relevance an a regional, national and global level and provides a unique opportunity for food production and tourism to be fused together because aquaponics provides a way to stimulate interest and excitement for futuristic food production that most persons may not be able to experience otherwise.
They are a two major ways in which aquaponics can be linked to tourism:
1: Hotels can become farms
Having food production for quick and valuable crops like lettuces and tomatoes on the actual hotel site will save the hotel money because they have grounds staff that can be trained to keep the aquaponic systems working and you can put them on the hotels rooftop to create an extra place for tourist to come to and enjoy while lowering the cooling cost or the building.
2: Farms can become tour providers
It needs to be mentioned that changes in the hardware on the farm is necessary as we farmers are minimalistic at heart we often overlook the upgrades that improve the experience for our non farming patrons. When preparing for a farm tour you will have to present the farm creatively and inventively with an entrepreneurial spirit and pushes the envelope on the use of multi-media and interactive technology add some exciting features to your farm like colorful underwater lights, projectors, fountains and more practical bio security measures. Inspire repeat visits by rotation of topic matter and experiences.
Are you doing this for a main or supplemental income?
For most aquaponic farms urban real estate with access to full sunlight is very pricey. To improve cash flow and not increase overall size of the farm is to go the route of providing tours and other activities that improve the experience such as:
1. Feeding and catching the fish
2. Picking the vegetables
3. Cooking the vegetables and fish
4. Eating in a farm restaurant
5. Presentation/ recreation center to show the farm life and any important messages
Tips for farmers looking into providing tours to the public
Every farm has a different story, telling that story and making sure the visitor leaves with the impression of gaining value is very important.
• Your farm has to be Edgy for a better experience
Start small and constantly improve based on the feedback from the consumer.
• Plan and schedule for tours
Make sure there is something for them to harvest when they get there.
• The risk of people coming through the farm
People will bring pest and diseases on the farm with them, plan for it.
A high level of visitor engagement, unique experience during repeat visits and opportunities for unique experiential learning vs. purely didactic learning can add an income generation stream on your farm that is steadier than relying on crops alone. A considerable amount of retraining and retooling may be necessary but defiantly can be worth it with aquaponics being so new into the farming arena there is a large curious component out there waiting to visit your farm.