Five years ago today, I was sitting in our attorney’s office signing the documents that created the entity “The Aquaponic Source, Inc.” The idea was to create a company that served the aquaponic gardening community by sourcing and / or developing products and educational material the community needed to be successful. No one was doing this in the U.S., and it felt like a market with tremendous potential that needed to be served.
Now, five years later, I have the luxury of both looking back on the wild ride we’ve had so far, and the privilege of looking into what we think is a bright future for our still nascent field.
While profits are important because they are the fuel that keeps the lights on, the rent paid, and the employees fed, I think the best gauge of a business’s success is the community impact it has had. If you measure our impact by how many aquaponic gardeners, both new and experienced, we’ve served over the past five years, our results have exceeded our expectations. While exact numbers are tough to calculate, here are some that get you to an idea:
- We have served over 11,000 customers through our online store by shipping well over 20,000 orders
- Over 60,000 copies of my book, Aquaponic Gardening, have been sold
- We send out a bi-monthly newsletter to over 26,000 subscribers
- Our Aquaponic Gardening Community site has nearly 15,000 members and remains the active, friendly place I had originally envisioned
- About 2,000 students are currently taking my Aquaponic Gardening Online Course via Udemy
- I have personally either taught or presented to thousands of aspiring aquapons over the past five years
To us, the other, equally important measure of success is the health of the company culture that we have built. And the best measure of this health is whether or not I, and our seven employees, look forward to going to work on Monday. Speaking for myself I can honestly say that I do! I love working with these wonderful people. We have a fast-paced, dynamic culture, based on continuous learning and mutual respect. And a lot of laughing.
While no one can know for sure what the future of aquaponic gardening holds, all the factors that pointed to this being a growth industry five years ago are still in place today, and some have become even stronger and more urgent. We are all concerned about the source of our food, and want control over how and where it is produced. The climate is changing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and fish farming is becoming more and more the norm.
The notion of growing your own fish and plants, together, in your basement, garage or greenhouse is no longer so weird. Now, where ever I go, people often know about aquaponics. That is a far cry from five years ago, when almost no one did.
So as long as this industry continues to grow and thrive, we will continue to serve it with commitment and enthusiasm. And we will continue to tend to this company like a garden – giving it good light, good drainage and passionate gardeners.