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 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.
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 track every expense.
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.
While it’s possible to track income and expenses using simple ledgers, it’s generally easier to use some type of computerized bookkeeping system. Modern digital bookkeeping makes it possible to generate business plans, track expenses and income, and evaluate the outcomes 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 hundreds of acres and large-scale machinery, basic elements will be required.
Every microgreens farmer must provide light, water and a temperature-controlled environment to grow quality produce. While it’s possible to grow a limited quantity of microgreens even in a home’s basement, that type of space isn’t going to be adequate once a microgreens business starts to grow.
Depending on the local weather conditions, a simple greenhouse will generally provide adequate space and light during much of the year. Some sort of watering system will be required to keep the growth cycles going.
Because microgreens tend to be temperature sensitive, a heat source may also be necessary. That’s especially true in colder areas where winter weather is a routine. Some microgreens farmers use buildings other than greenhouses, because it’s often easier to provide light than keep an uninsulated space heated during cold weather.
That’s why it’s important to explore all available options and determine the costs and benefits of each one. Again, computer software can help to produce a cost-benefit analysis of using specific types of structures. Professional advice is always helpful, so never hesitate to seek help from the experts when planning your microgreens farming business.
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 want varieties like Dark Opal basil or Ruby Queen beet to add a dash of color to plates, especially during the winter months when the weather is dismal at best. The best way to determine what needs exist is to do a little research.
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.
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.
Cost is important to your microgreens buyers, but quality products will always be preferred over items that have been picked and stored for days. That’s 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.
Is One Person Enough to Operate a Microgreens Farm?
That’s really a hard question to answer because many variables are involved. It may be possible for one person to deal with most of the day-to-day maintenance issues involved with operating a successful microgreens farm, but there are certainly exceptions.
First, it’s generally far easier to have help during the initial setup process. Building the needed beds, adding a watering system, and even installing needed lighting can be difficult for a single person. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and have help available when it’s needed. Whether that’s a family member, friend or even a person hired for the day, don’t be afraid to ask for help when it’s needed.
There are times when help will always be welcome. Maybe a large order needs to be filled quickly and one person can’t really get everything done in a timely fashion. Instead of making the delivery late or not providing the best-quality produce possible, it’s always better to ask for help determining the best strategies for selling microgreens.
Emergencies also happen from time to time. A power outage, for example, can mean a lot of work needs to be accomplished quickly to prevent a crop loss. Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
On the other hand, these types of issues are why microgreen farming is such a great family business. Even relatively young children can often be very helpful when an extra hand or two are needed. Working together can also promote stronger family ties for everyone, which is a typical goal of family businesses.
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 plant types with care. 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, they can mean those profits may take a little longer to realize.
One solid option is to take advantage of classes that specialize in starting a microgreens business. Those classes can help just about anyone figure out the best strategy for getting their new business off the ground quickly.
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 a successful 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.