Is This a Lucrative Business From Your Basement?
When I discovered I could grow microgreens in my basement and make a nice amount of cash doing so, I soon realized this was something anyone could do! Even without experience growing plants, one could run a home based business in this contemporary niche easily.
An intriguing story of a couple earning $10,000 a month raising microgreens in their Calgary basement inspired me to study what’s involved in making this business flourish in my own home.
Here’s what my research has taught me about the business of growing microgreens in your basement.
Microgreens are NOT sprouts.
Sprouts are grown in jars under dark, moist conditions- while microgreens are grown in trays of soil, with light.
There is less risk of pathogens or contamination when using good quality soil.
However, keeping a microgreen operation clean and sanitized at all times is of utmost importance. The last thing any new food production business needs is contamination troubles.
A first step is to research the microgreens market in your area. It is becoming popular for haute cuisine restaurants to offer a salad rich in tiny greens and succulent shoots. The beauty is unrivaled!
Chefs everywhere are looking for a steady source of microgreens. Your job is to show them you’re for real, and are here to stay as a reliable supplier.
Approach restaurant chefs and tell them your plan for a microgreens business. Ask them if they would be interested in a local source for fresh, delicious greens, delivered weekly in live flats.
Some growers recommend buying premixed bags of seeds, so you just sprinkle the mix onto the soil, and it grows up so beautiful and delicious and fresh, with colors entwined and leaves of different shapes. Definitely a lovely addition to any salad offering.
Find out what varieties of microgreens they would like to try in their kitchen, and create trays based on that.
Or you could approach each chef and show them what you offer, and they can make a selection.
With restaurants, it is definitely the aim to sell them produce by the flat, but if they are not looking for that, have your different kinds of greens packaged in nice containers with a pretty label.
Consider what is easiest for you before offering them anything. If growing flats of salad mix works best for you, then offer that.
If it is just as easy, see what they would like in their kitchen, and how you could supply it.
A few follow-ups with your chefs may be necessary. A couple of visits accompanied by emails detailing your product line will show them that you’re serious.
Once they see that you’re moving forward with your farm and growing what you said you would grow, they’ll be confident enough to place a trial order.
Some faster growing microgreens:
- Inkling Mustard
- Boc Choy
- Broccoli Raab
Growing to heights of 2″ to 3″, these greens will be bursting with flavor and rich in phytonutrients as well as secondary plant metabolites like Antioxidants, Beta Carotene, Enzymes, Lutien, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.
Other varieties of seed such as sunflower, pea, wheat, popcorn and nasturtium lend themselves more to ‘shoots’ grown to 5″ high, taking a period of 40-60 days until they are ready to harvest.
Microgreens are delicious, empowering superfoods. Typically, microgreens are 40 times more nutritious than the full-grown plant.
They’re easy to use and add natural flavor, beauty, zing and health to salads, smoothies, sandwiches, omelets and stir-fried meals.
Shop The Natural Way
Farmers markets are also an important outlet. Some microgreen farmers report earning $400 on a Saturday at their local market!
In some areas, you can find two or more markets to attend in a single weekend.
This is very nice money considering that you’re using a portion of your home to grow these microgreens, so have already covered some of your business overhead costs like rent, water, power and heat.
Those costs are incurred already, as part of your mortgage, so setting up your business under this umbrella is awesome.
Setting up at the Farmers Market
Make sure you have a shade canopy. Customers strolling around the market to buy fresh produce will appreciate your shady location and nicely packaged microgreens.
Have handouts ( 5″x 2.5″) that are easy to slip into a purse or pocket, with an eye-catching picture, your farm logo, and a list of varieties you grow.
Make up a pocket sized microgreens recipe book (about 3″ x 3″) which shoppers can purchase for a dollar or two.
Display these cute little books right by your till, and customers will be delighted to buy them, and take them home with some of your greens.
What’s Involved in Set-up?
Supplies for your farm are simple, though you do have to invest a few hundred dollars to get up and rolling. You are going to need:
- watering system (hose and nozzle)
- packaging materials.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- White Vinegar
Here is a sample label I created at canva.com. a place you can experiment with templates and text for free. Only when you want to download or print, you have to pay a dollar or two.
It’s also fun to sit down with pen, paper and coffee, and design something original, then take it to your local print shop or Staples, and have them print them up a bunch for you.
Farmers recommend buying seeds in 25 lb sacks. Premixed blends are recommended for better uniformity. They need to be untreated, but tested for pathogens. If using any seed that has not been tested, please sanitize the seed with this simple mixture of
- 4 tsp white vinegar
- 4 tsp food grade hydrogen peroxide
- 1 quart of water
- soak seeds 10 minutes, rinse, then plant.
Here are 2 companies I found online where you can order seeds. They both offer microgreen seed varieties in small or larger quantities.
Also, check your local nurseries, or farm and garden stores. They are keen with the trend, and most offer microgreen seeds in varying quantities.
Soil? Where, What?
My recommendation for soil would be the very large bag offered from your local Home Depot. If you order it online, it will be brought to your door, placed where you want it, and should last a good while.
Local nursery have soil available. Also, Walmart, Canadian Tire, and other large stores. Around my area we have the ‘big yellow bag’ of soil, which is the most economical route available. But I don’t know about your area. Home Depot is everywhere across North America, very easy to find. That’s’s why I recommend it.
In my research I found that microgreens sell for between, $40-80 dollars per pound. I know that’s a big stretch, but I assume if your in NY and have a salad at the Ritz Carlton with microgreens in it, they are charging out at around $80 per pound.
If you are at the farmers market in Kamloops BC getting a clam shell of microgreens, they will be sold by the oz weight, say a 3 oz pack for $5, affordable to you- but it does work out to $40-$42 a lb. overall.
When you are growing microgreens in your basement, you too can charge $40-$80 a pound.
Being able to get these kinds of prices per lb. makes growing microgreens a fantastic home business.
I think one could reap large rewards from this business of growing microgreens.
# 1 would be substantial revenue
# 2 you would always have fresh, tasty, healthy greens to eat, no matter the weather, or the situation in the store.
I’ve made a shopping list for you, spent hours searching for just the right growing trays, and other supplies needed to start.
I left a few links so you can find each item easily.
Thanks for reading this article. I have done my best to paint an honest picture of the microgreen business, and I hope I have
inspired you to start a microgreen business in your basement!
“To begin an adventure, you must always take that first step”
If you have any questions, or would just like to leave a comment below, I look forward to hearing from you.