Brokers for Aquaponic Basil in Indiana
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Mike Hines
Posted on: January 30, 2008

I have a small scale aquaponic green house. I can raise basil, leaf lettuce, and tomatoes. If I want to grow for profit probably [it will be herbs] and the bank will loan me the money. I need to find some brokers or firm buyers. I am getting a vocational rehab grant for $30,0000 if I can prove to the bank a broker or buyer. Any help?

My test greenhouse is 6’x12’. I use the S&S aqua system.Will call later. I’m in Peru, Indiana.

We do not maintain a list of fresh herb brokers, so you will have to build a contact list yourself. You can start by checking the the GrowerZone section of our website (www.growerzone.com). Go to "Resources" and then click on the "Fresh Herbs" link under "Herb Market Data". You will find a link to the USDA’s daily terminal prices for fresh produce and herbs. There is a telephone contact for each terminal. Try calling the Chicago terminal, the terminal closest to you. During your research phase visit the terminal to get a good idea how the fresh produce industry works.

Your marketing options depend greatly on your scale of operation. If you project will be small and yields each week will be small, you may not have the volume needed to meet the needs of a regional broker at the Chicago terminal. Then you will need to go up the "food chain" and contact smaller buyers directly such as retailers and high end restaurants.

If you are starting out as a small producer you need to take stock of your advantages and disadvantages. Key disadvantages will likely be the lack of a complete range of products (as you sensibly plan to focus on basil production to start). But some key advantages are that you would be a local producer and some high end restaurants are looking for quality local producers that can provide top quality and service. In some markets the "local" card is becoming a marketing ploy -- those that can claim to buy from local growers are beginning to highlight that as a badge of integrity and quality. You need to play all your cards.

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