Grants for aquaponic farming are a great way to get a new hobby, business, or passion project off the ground. Costs of starting an aquaponic farm are higher than those for a traditional farm, landing somewhere around $20,000 per acre. It is no wonder then that most farmers turn to grants to help secure the funding necessary to get started in aquaponics.
When setting up an aquaponics farm, there are several costs to consider. Those include, but are not limited to:
Oftentimes, individuals will not have the money to pay for all of these startup costs out-of-pocket. So, most turn to agricultural grants for financial support.
The USA Federal government offers financial support for aquaponics farmers starting out. The Department of Agriculture's National Resources Conservation Services award several annual grants to farmers applying to secure funding.
While these grants are available to a wide range of diverse farms and farming practices, aquaponics makes the list as well. In fact, there might even be evidence to suggest that aquaponic farmers stand a slightly better chance at securing this kind of funding due to the sustainable nature of the farming practice.
These grants are good for farmers looking to start and/or maintain rather large commercial, aquaponic operations, or those who manage aquaponic systems alongside other types of agriculture. The value amount of the annual grants vary, but recent awardees have been known to receive sums as high as $130,000, or even higher in some circumstances.
If you are only starting aquaponics as a hobby, or are not looking to start a large-scale operation, then these Aquaponic Association MicroGrants could be the right path for you to pursue funding from.
This program aims to raise awareness of aquaponics and spread knowledge, information, and education about it to the masses. Additionally, one of its goals is to raise public awareness of aquaponics as a sustainable method of fish and plant production, while also providing fresh food from the local area to local consumers.
In line with this mission, they offer grants every three months, usually averaging around $1,000. Applications can be submitted through their official website.
In the USA, the government is not the only source of grant funding for aquaponics farmers. There are several organizations and foundations that support aquaponics, some at the state level, university level, or even from private individuals with an interest in the industry.
When looking for alternative sources of aquaponics funding, it could be a good idea to broaden the search beyond organizations that are explicitly about aquaponics themselves. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that yours and your donor's values align. A great example of this in action is the case of Solutions Farm in Southern California. They received significant funding from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation because of their mission to help feed the poor.
There is a method to the madness when it comes to securing grant funding. Firstly, review your mission statement and goals of your project or business. What are you doing? Why? Who are you helping? Why is it significant?
Secondly, create a list of possible ways aquaponics will have an impact in your community. If you can demonstrate that what you are doing goes beyond just being a personal passion project and actually impacts people's lives, there will be more ears ready to listen.
These questions will help you to narrow down the types of donors that are worth pursuing, and also will help you present a solid case to them regarding why you need their investment and how it will be spent.
Securing grant funding for aquaponics isn't the easiest task in the world, but it could be necessary if you are tight on funds and wanting to create something with lasting impact. Get clear on your mission, goals, and impact, and don't be afraid to think outside the box when considering who your ideal donor is.