Aquaponics, the modern blending of aquaculture and hydroponics, has been gaining a lot of interest in the last few years. Victoria Kelly saw an opportunity in this rapidly growing niche market, and decided to embark on a business providing information to both aquaponics practitioners and enthusiasts. As the future of aquaponics look promising, she created the Aquaponics Survival Communities or ASC Magazine to provide information to people interested in this farming approach, and those who run small-scale to multi-acre aquaponics farming operations.
Here’s our interview with Victoria on the aquaponics industry and her online publication ASC Magazine:
Can you briefly explain to us what aquaponics is?
Aquaponics is the combination of growing produce and proteins together in a healthy way. There is a combination of science and biology that occurs in a totally organic way in the process. The natural bacteria, fish waste, water, produce and worms work together in a symbiotic relationship. The water is continuously pumped from the fish tank into the grow beds in a circulated loop system.
The fish waste (poop) is a high concentration of ammonia, which is converted into nitrites and nitrates with the help of the natural bacteria. The plants are fed this continuous nutrient dense solution as their roots grow in the circulated water within the grow beds.
The worms live within the aggregate or rocks in the grow beds. They help to break down any excess residues in the beds, while creating healthy worm castings for the plants to thrive on. When the fish receive the recirculated water from the beds it also adds as an extra source of food for them. The process then repeats itself again, it’s quite a remarkable way to grow healthy food and proteins together.
When and how did you start Aquaponics Survival Communities magazine?
We started the ASC Magazine back in March of 2013.
I started it at home on my computer and put it together for the benefit of the community. There were so many people who had great ideas and I asked them to share this with the community. This just seemed like the right way to go about answering everyone’s questions. Beginners could now learn from their peers in ways that just benefited everyone.
What opportunity did you see when you decided to create your online magazine? What need did you see in the marketplace?
There actually wasn’t a monthly magazine that I was aware of and the aquaponics niche was growing very quickly. There were plenty of stories to be told by both the professional and home grower. There were lots of experiences to share with others and the community loved it. Growing your own food is important to millions of right people now and many simply do not know how to do it.
What were the challenges you faced when you started your online magazine?
One of the challenges was finding the stories at first. Then it became about reaching deadlines with enough materials inside to call a magazine. However community people came forward and started writing about what they were doing and it it all worked. Things just seemed to flow to me and we pushed on. That’s the beauty about this magazine, average people can become gardening hero’s.
How are you marketing your business?
We have a unique marketing system which was devised by myself and my husband Mike. My husband is my coach and best friend after 17 years we are still throwing ideas back and forth. Mike has been marketing for over 15 years now, so I listen to his ideas.
How has social media helped you spread the word out about your business?
I have a Facebook page with over 15,000 avid fans now. They do a lot of the work for me. They love pictures and links with more good information. People will share things they feel it will benefit others. They also love really cool ideas and concepts. Most people use social media as a way to propel their business these days. We live in a virtual world now and you have use these tools.
How are you balancing your business with your personal life?
We have a team of writers now who help me every month. This has greatly reduced the time factor I have to spend putting the magazine together. Our magazine edition goes out on the 10th of every month. There is a week before the deadline where I am in crunch time and highly focused. I still make plenty of time with my husband and boys.
What lessons have you learned so far about being an entrepreneur?
Balance is the key. If you are stressed and overloaded, no-one is having any fun! I have learned to ask for help from people. Let them give you their ideas and just run with it.
Our team have come up with amazing concepts they share in the magazine. This in turn, empowers the subscribers. Build your team members up and encourage other people in the community to learn about them. Be proud of their achievements and promote their work. What good energy you give to others does come back to you in big ways.
How do you see the business 5 years from now?
The magazine is already one of the top niched based online magazines out there. We believe we can introduce this kind of sustainable education into schools worldwide. We are creating an online educators site in 2014 and we want to teach all people the benefits of raising up their communities again. Sustainability and cooperation, that’s the future for humanity. We are currently working with others in the industry to help us push these ideas through.
What lessons can you share other women entrepreneurs out there?
Never give up on your dreams! Let your passion be the driving force of your success. Find something you really love and run with it. Never regret any decision you make. Good or bad you will learn from it.
Learn to balance your business and personal life together. Care about other people and listen to what they are saying. Don’t give them what you think they need, but rather what they really want.
Finally I know this sounds silly but take the ego out of it, it’s not always about you. When you empower other people and make them happy they keep coming back because you showed them … you cared.