Information for beginning farmers
Before you start your aquaculture farm, you should create a business plan. Start at the end and work backwards. For example, what do you want to sell, how many pieces do you plan to sell each year (thousands, millions, etc), and what is the target market (wholesale, retail, Ecommerce, etc.). The next step is to think about where you’ll locate your farm and what gear to use. Private leases are difficult to find in Virginia, as most areas are already leased. Options are to work cooperatively with an existing grower that has leased ground, sublease from a leaseholder, or apply for a permit to work the water column without leasing the bottom (Joint Permit Application). Once you have the plan in place, you can start working out more details and focus on the permitting required. Note – shellfish culture is not a “get rich quick” business. The estimate is 3-5 years before a farm starts making money.
- A no-cost online training program, Entry-Level Oyster Farm Worker/Science, Safety & Best Practices for Oyster Farming Workers, offers skill-building for those considering employment as aquaculture farmhands.
- Oyster Crop budget (cage culture)
- More about leases - VMRC Engineering/Surveying Dept.
- GIS tool to visualize leases, shellfish condemnations and more. VMRC Chesapeake Bay Map
- Rookie Mistakes for New Growers to Avoid (ECSGA)