Planning is always important when starting a new business, and anyone considering a microgreens business is encouraged to heed that sage advice. Proper planning makes it far easier to determine the types and quantities of microgreens to raise and how to market them.
Explore the Local Market
Like every business, selling microgreens doesn’t just happen. If you’re new to microgreen farming, it’s vitally important to determine if local restaurants, co-ops and grocery stores, and farmers market customers are interested in purchasing microgreens.
Microgreens farmers have discovered area restaurants are prime candidates for their produce. Many types of microgreens are used for garnishes, salads and creating unique dishes. Presentation is a top concern of chefs everywhere, and microgreens offer a great way to increase the appeal of menu items.
Food cooperatives are always looking for fresh, quality produce to offer members. Microgreens produced locally are generally snapped up quickly by health-conscious shoppers who make it a point to use the best products available. If the microgreens are organic, even better!
Even local grocery stores prefer to source products locally when possible. That means anyone who can consistently provide quality produce will often have a ready buyer waiting. If you’re unsure of a local market’s interest, simply ask the produce manager about the potential of selling your microgreens directly to the store.
Finally, stop by your local farmers market to determine how busy your local market is and how many others are currently selling microgreens. Even if there are a few people selling them, if you have a large robust market there may be plenty of customers to go around.
Pay Attention to Business
A successful microgreens business owner should carefully track all income and expenses. The only way to develop a truly profitable business is to understand basic accounting concepts and record every expense. I really like the “profit first” method of accounting that was popularized by the book of the same name:
Before diving deep into selling and financial management, most people who grow microgreens for sale start small to learn the growing process and determine if microgreen farming is really something they’d be comfortable doing. It’s also easier to start on a part-time basis and keep other jobs until it’s clear the business will generate the income needed to support your lifestyle.
While it’s possible to track income and expenses using simple ledgers, it’s generally easier to use some type of computerized bookkeeping system like Quickbooks or Wave. Modern digital bookkeeping makes it possible to generate business reports, track expenses and income, prepare taxes, and evaluate various metrics to determine what types of changes will provide greater income in the future.
Choose the Best Space Available
Like any type of farming, a microgreens business requires a certain amount of appropriate space. While you won’t need lots of land or large-scale machinery, basic elements will be required.
Every microgreens farmer must provide light, water and a temperature-controlled environment to grow quality produce. Depending on the local weather conditions, a simple greenhouse may provide adequate space and light during much of the year, but most microgreens farmers will choose to build an indoor grow room so you have better control over the growing conditions. Some sort of watering system will be required to keep the growth cycles going, and we recommend plumbing in a water line connected to a hose right inside your grow room.
Because microgreens tend to be temperature sensitive, a heat source may also be necessary in the cold of winter to get the grow room up in the mid-70s for some of the warm loving crops like sunflower and basil. For this we recommend a basic space heater of heat mats such as this one which is large enough for 4 1020 trays:
In the summer, its important to keep your grow room below 80 F and to keep the humidity down, ideally in the 40-50% range. Lowering the humidity will help prevent mold and other disease issues. For this we recommend a high quality dehumidifier such as this one:
Tailor Your Crop to Meet Local Demands
We’ve already talked about exploring some of the top local customers, but there is another way to increase the odds of a microgreens business succeeding. That’s to tailor the crops to meet the demands of a local market instead of trying to raise a variety of the top microgreens people commonly seek.
Local chefs may demand exotic varieties like Dark Opal basil or Bulls Blood Beets, or Red Garnet Amaranth to add a dash of color to plates. The best way to determine what needs exist is to do a little research. Get out there and talk to chefs, ask them what they are looking for and how you can be of service.
Visit area restaurants to find out what types of microgreens are already easily available in the area and which ones are hard to find. The trick here is to focus on the ones other providers are not currently offering. Since the growing cycles of microgreens are so short, it’s generally not complicated to start seeds that will provide a more profitable crop quickly. But be aware, that some of these more exotic varieties can also be much more challenging to grow. If you are going to go this route, plan for lots of experimentation and crop failures along the way. And also be prepared to charge high prices for these premium varieties.
If you want to speed up your learning curve, you can signup for our online course call Microgreens Business, which includes crop cheatsheets for all the microgreens varieties including the challenging exotic crops. You can learn more about the program by signing up for a webinar.
Remember that needs and tastes are constantly evolving. That means a microgreen that’s in demand during the spring months may not be popular during hotter summer weather. While most prefer to grow the same microgreens, generating top profits will require following current trends and providing the produce as it’s needed by buyers in the area.
Provide the Best Service
Every customer wants to feel the products they’re purchasing are top quality and the supplier cares about their needs. That’s why every successful microgreens farmer will closely monitor their crops for quality and make sure orders are delivered when the client needs them.
Restaurants, for example, may offer weekly specials that require more basil or mustard or only use some greens on weekends. They want the microgreens delivered when they’re needed so they’re always fresh and attractive. This can be challenging to accommodate order changes and add-ons on the fly, but as you scale to a larger operation, you will be able to grow a little extra and have a buffer for last minute accommodations.
Cost is important to your microgreens buyers, but quality products will always be preferred over items that have been picked and stored for days. When they last longer and therefore account for less waste, customers can actually save money in the end buying your more expensive product. That’s one reason why local grocery stores, restaurants and food co-ops will buy from local producers when possible. But they will quickly move away from microgreen producers who fail to deliver high-quality products.
Careful planning is just as important on a daily basis as it is when starting a new microgreens business. While there is a little leeway in the planting-to-table schedule, the best microgreen farmers will always ensure the majority of their produce is harvested as close as possible to the day it’s meant to be consumed by the end customer.
If you are looking for more ways to provide exceptional service and value for your customers, check out this article:
Every new venture requires a certain knowledge base in order to be successful. Microgreen farming is no exception. That’s why would-be growers are encouraged to take the time to research the business before jumping in. While there are great opportunities for microgreen farmers, it’s easy to fail when careful planning takes a back seat to enthusiasm.
A wealth of information is available online for newcomers to microgreen farming. Much of that information has value, but not all will fit the needs of every individual seeking a future as a microgreens farmer.
Choose your site, equipment and initial crops with care. Take it slow by getting one crop down, then added the next – one layer at a time. And again, it always pays to research the local market to get a feel for the community’s needs. While making a few mistakes won’t generally doom a microgreen business, it can make profitability take a little longer to realize.
One solid option is to take a comprehensive paid training that specialize in starting a microgreens business. Learning from someone who has been through the entire process and has all the systems and documents in place will be a huge time and money saving, and stress reducing decision.
Getting advice from the experts makes it far easier to avoid costly mistakes while also generating ideas for moving from a small, startup business to becoming the number one microgreens provider in your area. If you’re truly looking for a fun and profitable way to generate income, now is the time to explore how a microgreens business can achieve those goals.
We offer a free workshop teaching you how to start a profitable microgreens business with very little time, money, or space. And during the workshop you will be presented with a special discount price on our complete online course called Microgreens Business. You can signup for the free workshop by clicking here!