Growing microgreens can be quite a lucrative business idea, but it requires more than just basic gardening and trading skills. You’ll have to invest a fair amount of time and effort in order for it to come to fruition. Not to mention that it’ll require a reasonable financial investment for supplies.
Why should you bother with starting a microgreens business in the first place? Microgreen crops are sold at high prices to big restaurant and food store chains. Moreover, the turnaround time for microgreens is fast and they offer year-round growing. Also, you don’t need a high startup cost.
How Much Room Do You Need to Grow Microgreens?
Starting a microgreens business doesn’t require a whole lot of space. In fact, all you really need to start growing microgreens is a spare bedroom in your house. In order to maximize the use of vertical space in your spare room, it’s strongly recommended that you utilize racks.
Just to put this into perspective, you can grow up to 50 pounds every couple of weeks in a room that offers 60 square feet’s worth of space using racks with four shelves. Per square foot, you’re likely to make $30-$50 per month. For a 60-square-foot room, that’s going to be $1800-$3000.
If you’re going to utilize racks on a single level construction like a tabletop, a 10×20-inch tray will produce 5-6 ounces of microgreens. Bear in mind that some microgreens are larger than others, so the amount a tray will produce will differ depending on the microgreens you’re growing.
It’s also worth noting that some microgreens thrive in soil, while others thrive hydroponically. So you have to make sure that your location, growing medium, and equipment will ensure the most optimal growing conditions for the particular type of microgreens that you’re trying to grow.
How Much Time Does a Microgreens Business Need?
The time needed to start your microgreens business depends on the scale you’re aiming for. For small scale operations such as growing a dozen flat trays in a spare room, it’ll only require about 15-30 minutes every 2-3 days. You also need to take the harvesting time into consideration.
On the other hand, a large microgreens operation will require you to devote a lot more time. You have to treat it as a full-time job rather than a side gig that you work on an hour or two per week. Further, you won’t be able to keep up with the demand by yourself, so you’ll likely need to hire.
To put it simply, you’ll always reap what you sow no matter the business you’re trying to build. In other words, depending on how much of your time you dedicate to your microgreens project, the results are going to be proportionate. And the better the business model, the better the results.
How Much Does It Cost to Grow Microgreens?
We’ve already mentioned that growing microgreens requires a small startup cost, but it’s crucial for you to know that the greater the scale, the less money you’ll need to spend. Everything from the equipment, growing process, and trading strategy will be the same, just on a larger scale.
Finding out how much it costs to grow microgreens will be simple as soon as you figure out how big of a scale you’re aiming for. We’ve divided the cost of growing microgreens into variable and fixed costs. The larger your operation, the more of this equipment you’re going to need.
When we speak of fixed costs, we’re basically talking about equipment with a fixed price tag like trays and lighting solutions. You’ll need at least 10 trays to start a microgreens business, with an estimate of $2 per tray. You’ll need a single T5 growing light, which costs $50, for every 10 days.
- Scale – A scale is going to be necessary for measuring microgreens before you package them for retail. You don’t need anything fancy, a regular kitchen scale should be enough.
- Spray Bottle – You’ll need a typical spray bottle to prevent your microgreens from drying during germination. It’ll also help keep them moist as they continue to grow larger.
- Timer – You don’t want your lighting gadgetry working all day and night, which is why we advise you to invest in a timer that can help turn the lights on and off periodically.
- Small Fan – If you’re going to grow your microgreens indoors, then it’s essential to invest in a small fan that can help keep your crop ventilated in order to prevent mold.
- Sharp Scissors – When it comes time to harvest your microgreens, you’re going to need a pair of sharp scissors or a sharp knife, as a dull blade can cost you your crops.
- Watering Can – You don’t really need anything fancy here, you simply need a cheap can with a fine spout. As soon as your microgreens grow, you’ll need to start watering them.
There’s a wide range of microgreens that you can grow, so it makes sense that different types of seeds will vary as far as pricing. An ounce of seeds will cost you about $5. The number of seeds that you need for each tray can also vary, with the average being one ounce per tray.
Assuming you’re going to start with 10 trays and the average cost of an ounce of seed is $5, the total cost of seeds will be $50. You may end up paying a little less or a little more, depending on the type of seeds that you’re going to grow, so you need to put that into consideration.
In addition to seeds, you’re going to need some growing mats if you don’t want to use soils as a growing medium. Growing mats allow for an easy, non-messy growing process. You’ll need one growing mat for every tray, and a single growing mat is going to cost you about $2.
Since you’re planning to start a business that’s likely to distribute to restaurants and maybe local grocers, you’re going to need to purchase packaging boxes. The cool thing about these boxes is that you can get huge bundles of 50 or 100 boxes for a very affordable price tag.
How Much Revenue Should You Expect to Earn?
There are plenty of factors that can play major roles in the revenue of a microgreens operation, including your gardening skills, selling skills, the restaurants or grocers you’ll be selling to, your network, and more. However, the main factor that will determine your revenue is your yield.
Basically, the yield is the number of ounces that you’re able to grow per tray. Per ounce, it’s safe to expect a $2 return. And considering that the average yield rate is about 10 ounces, you might easily earn $20 per tray in revenue. Keep in mind that microgreens have a shelf life of 2-3 days.
How to Start Selling Your Microgreens?
Selling as many products as possible is the most important part of any successful business. And in the microgreens business, you have to hone your trading and marketing skills even more than your gardening skills in order to ensure success. But who are you going to sell to exactly?
Directly to Consumers
More and more people are making adjustments towards a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis, and this is why microgreens are more in demand than ever in this day and age. It’ll be quite easy for you as a microgreens seller to sell directly to consumers by utilizing simple marketing strategies.
High-end restaurants are arguably the best place to sell your microgreens, as the demand there is very high. The better the quality of microgreens that you provide, the more the restaurants will pay. Start simply by creating a list of the most prominent restaurants in your area.
After you’ve created your list, start visiting these restaurants and offering their chefs samples of your microgreens. After a couple of days, give these restaurants a call or pay them another visit to ask for their feedback. If they like it, ask them if they’d like to order some of your microgreens.
We strongly recommend visiting as many restaurants as possible per week. Expect to be turned down a lot. If you manage to convert at least 10% of the restaurants you visit on a weekly basis, then you’ve done an excellent job and you’ll soon be seeing some lucrative results.
Another place you can sell your microgreens is at the farmers market. It might not be an optimal place to sell your crops if you don’t have much time on your hand, but you’re guaranteed to earn a few customers that are likely to keep buying microgreens from you specifically, thereafter.
As you can see, starting a microgreens business isn’t as challenging as trying to start a different type of business. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t demand a lot of time and effort. The more you put into it, the better your results will be. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions.