Growing Microgreens for Profit

by | Microgreens

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Microgreens are the perfect urban farming solution to making a profit in a small space. Adaptable to small closet spaces or spare bedrooms, they don’t take up much room or require a lot of overhead, and they can produce delicious, intense flavors.  

At the crux of urban farming, supporting local growers, and a need to connect with nature, the popularity of microgreens expanded in 2020. Many people realized how easily they could adapt the growing process to their closets and spare bedrooms in an attempt to connect with the outdoors while under lockdown. In this HerbSpeak guide, we’ll talk about how you can start growing microgreens for profit.  

What Are Microgreens?

Before diving in, it’s important to cover the basics: what are microgreens? Microgreens are young greens harvested at an extremely early stage of growth. They are different from sprouts in that they aren’t grown in a jar, and they’re allowed to grow a little longer, but many people think of microgreens as a similar food item. Not only are they packed with nutrition, but their unique flavors and vibrant colors have made them a favorite among chefs, health enthusiasts, and home cooks alike.

Depending on the variety you choose, they can reach harvest time anywhere from 7 to 21 days after germination. Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, they’re ideal for health-conscious consumers, or those looking for a nutritional boost. You can grow them in a spare closet or bedroom, or even on your windowsill. They’re easy for anyone to grow with a little guidance, no matter age or experience.

Explore: If you’re not looking to make a profit, but want to learn more about microgreens, explore HerbSpeak’s always-growing microgreens articles and guides. Don’t find your questions answered there? Ask in the comments below!

Are Microgreens Still Profitable in 2023?

Yes, The microgreens market has seen consistent growth over the past decade. With the ongoing trend of healthy eating, organic foods, and urban farming, the demand for microgreens remains robust in 2023. While there was a sharp rise in the number of microgreens growers in 2020 and 2021, many of the new growers who have stuck with the craft are hyper-local, selling only a limited number of microgreens to a small area.

If there is competition in your area, consider reaching out and coordinating which microgreens to grow. Working together to provide a larger list of microgreens can help you share a client pool without competing directly against each other. This partnership allows you a chance to coordinate who is selling at which venues, widening the net of potential customers for both of you for mutual success.

Typical Profits for Microgreens

 On average, a 10″x20″ tray of microgreens can yield about 8-12 ounces, depending on the variety. The selling price can range from $25-$40 per pound (or more for specialty varieties). So, you could potentially make $12-$30 or more per tray.

What Are the Most Profitable Microgreens to Grow?

While the profitability varies based on your market and region, some of the most profitable microgreens to grow include:

  1. Arugula: Popular for its peppery flavor, it’s a favorite in salads and garnishes.
  2. Radish: Their spicy kick makes them highly sought after.
  3. Pea Shoots: Tasty and versatile with a delightful crunch.
  4. Sunflower Shoots: Nutty flavor and a crunchy texture.
  5. Specialty Mixes: Unique blends can command higher prices due to their variety and flavor profiles.

However, always research and test your local market. Sometimes, a lesser-known microgreen can become a best-seller in your area. It also helps to learn what your target market is looking for before you start growing.

Secure Your Supplies

Securing the right supplies isn’t just about purchasing; it’s about research, understanding your needs, and forging relationships with suppliers who prioritize quality and consistency as much as you do. To thrive in the microgreens business, securing consistent and high-quality supplies is paramount. Remember, the quality of your produce directly reflects the quality of the materials and tools you use.

True Leaf Market:

One of the main reasons seasoned growers rely on True Leaf Market is the quality of their seeds. Non-GMO, organic, and with a high germination rate, their seeds can be the foundation of a successful crop.

These are the only microgreen seeds I grow with, providing an extensive variety, from common microgreens like radish and sunflower to exotic varieties that can be sold as premium products.

Furthermore, they aren’t just a seller; they offer informative resources, growing guides, and customer support, ensuring even beginners feel supported. Click the banner below or go here to browse.

Check out our Microgreens at True Leaf Market

Bootstrap Farmer:

Their trays are known to be some of the most durable in the market. While slightly pricier than regular trays, they can last years, ensuring you don’t need to replace them often. These are the only trays I use, and they’re still in good condition after four years.

From grow lights optimized for microgreens to high-quality soil mixes and nutrient solutions, Bootstrap Farmer is like a one-stop-shop for a grower’s needs. Bootstrap Farmer also boasts an active customer service center that helps resolve any problems in no time. Click the banner below or go here to browse.

Shop at Bootstrap Farmer

Ensure You Are Growing Sustainably

Sustainable isn’t just a buzzword you get to use to command higher prices, it’s a responsibility!

Reuse: Opting for higher quality trays from suppliers above will allow you to re-use your supplies time and time again. If you sell to customers by the tray, add a tray deposit cost, or discount on future orders for returning the trays.

Water: Water conservation is particularly important for areas that are at risk of lowered water tables or drought. Using a closed-loop watering system can help you minimize water waste.

Organic: Microgreens don’t need any help since they’re powered by the energy stored in the seed. It can still be difficult for an experienced gardener to let go of the fertilizers and pesticides. You don’t need it!

Local: Partner with other local growers, sell with co-ops, and sell directly to consumers or local restaurants to minimize your impact while keeping your product fresh.

Develop Your Skills for Growing

Microgreens are harvested before the first “true leaves” appear. This means they develop with a set of leaves they have while in the seed. In a regular healthy plant, the seed needs to develop.

The first leaves are young and tender, but not fully photosynthetic. This means that in this stage, the plant is relying on all the nutrients in the seed to develop. As the plant matures, it will sprout its first photosynthetic leaves so it can start making its own food.

Fortunately, because microgreens are harvested before this stage, it means you don’t need to provide additional nutrients in the soil. It also means that you can time the harvests by controlling their growing conditions and keeping track of how long it takes to get there.

By refining your skills, you can meet the demand for fresh local foods, while also ensuring you can provide a consistent quality harvest on time.

Microgreens that have begun to sprout their true leaves tend to taste a little strange, so it’s important to develop your growing skills to maximize the flavor. The tastier they are, the more excited customers will be to purchase from you again. 

Identifying Your Niche

Finding your niche means discovering that sweet spot where your passion meets market demand. Start looking around and asking yourself some questions. Do you want to grow rare, exotic microgreens? Or perhaps organic varieties for health-conscious consumers?

It’s also important to consider factors like local demand, competition, and your personal interests. You don’t want to burn out doing something you love for work, but you want to be interested in it as well. Furthermore, you’re going to have more demand in a bustling city with restaurants or health-conscious consumers than you will in a lesser-traveled town.

Get Your Paperwork Together

Don’t forget that as an urban farmer you are starting your own business. Check any local and state licensures you may need, such as insurance or certifications.

Certifications for organic practices go a long way to building credibility with your customer base, but it can be expensive for small direct-sales purposes.

Likewise, you might need a business license to sell at farmers markets, and state or town regulations typically require certain labeling of homegrown goods to limit your liability if someone gets sick.

Secure Your First Customers

Starting with your inner circle is a smart move when securing your first customers. Friends and family are often excited to support your endeavors and can offer invaluable feedback. To cast a wider net, consider giving out free samples to local restaurants or markets, as tasting the quality of your product can pave the way for larger orders. Don’t forget the value of networking. Being present at local farmers’ markets, agricultural events, or workshops can connect you with potential customers and fellow growers.

Places to Market Your Microgreens

Here are some places to check:

  • Farmers markets
  • Local restaurants
  • Health food stores
  • Direct to consumer

Farmers’ markets are a buzzing hub for fresh produce lovers and a great place to showcase your microgreens. If you’re looking to make consistent sales, partnering with local restaurants can be beneficial, as many chefs love incorporating fresh, locally-sourced ingredients into their dishes. Additionally, health food stores in your vicinity can be wonderful allies, as they prioritize fresh and often organic produce.

Pros and Cons of Different Customer Types

Direct: Selling to individual consumers offers the advantage of direct feedback and a more personalized relationship. However, these sales can sometimes be inconsistent, and individual buyers may be more price-sensitive.

Restaurants: Collaborating with restaurants can lead to regular and larger orders and might even allow you to command premium pricing. But be prepared; restaurants often have high standards for quality and might have payment schedules.

Retail: Retailers, like grocery stores, can provide the stability of bulk orders but might drive a hard bargain on pricing and have stringent quality controls.

Nourish Customer Relationships

Building a successful business isn’t just about making sales; it’s about fostering relationships. Listen actively to your customers, seeking feedback and genuinely acting upon it.

Consider implementing loyalty programs, like offering discounts to regular customers or surprising them with a complimentary batch occasionally.

Communication is key; keep your customers in the loop with newsletters, share exciting microgreen recipes, or even send a simple thank-you note for their continued support.

Scale to Your Heart’s Content

As you find your footing in the microgreens world, think about how you can grow and expand. Automation can make a huge difference; systems that handle watering or lighting can free up your time and ensure consistency. Just remember to keep it sustainable.

If the demands of the business become overwhelming, it might be time to bring in some help. Hiring, even part-time or seasonal, can bring fresh energy and ideas.

The Benefit of Diversification

In the world of business, it’s not wise to put all your eggs—or in this case, seeds—in one basket. Growing a diverse range of microgreens or selling to different types of customers means you can cater to a broader palette of tastes and demands.

Think about other products that align with your business, like selling microgreen growing kits, seeds, or even recipe books. It’s also a good idea to explore various marketplaces. Relying solely on one selling platform or location can be risky. By diversifying, you’re not only spreading the risk but also opening multiple avenues for income and growth.

This is another way that partnering with other local microgreens growers can help, allowing you to offer diversified products and access new customer types with minimized risk.

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About Destynnie K. Berard
I am a lifelong naturalist who believes a good sense of humor is essential to staying happy. ★ After traveling for years, I settled in New England, falling in love with the diverse landscape the Northeast has to offer, and began pursuing conservation in earnest. ★ My career background is in enterprise marketing and communications, which provides me with a unique perspective of ecological relationships.

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