Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

How to Start a Microgreens Business: Growing Microgreens for Profit

By: Zac Friedman

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Starting a microgreens business can be incredibly profitable. The startup cost is low. You could get started for less than $100. Microgreens don’t require much space. A garage, basement, or spare bedroom is sufficient to earn six figures in revenue. They also grow very quickly. Your first crop can be ready to harvest in less than 2 weeks. The business is also easily scalable. In addition, microgreens are a high-value crop. They can sell for as much as $50 per pound. Best of all, demand is high. Microgreens are quickly increasing in popularity due to their tasty flavor and health benefits. All of this makes microgreens an excellent crop for small-scale farmers and even urban growers.

This is the complete guide to growing microgreens for profit. In this guide, I’ll cover how to grow microgreens, the equipment you’ll need, and the best types of microgreens to grow. I’ll also talk about the business side of growing microgreens including profitability, expenses, how to sell microgreens, and more.

growing microgreens for profit pin

Table of Contents

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are young vegetable or herb plants. They are typically harvested when they are 1-3” (2.5-7.5 cm) tall depending on the species. For most species, this is 7-21 days after germination. Microgreens are harvested just after the first set of leaves fully develop.

Microgreens are grown from standard vegetable or herb seeds. They can be grown indoors, outdoors, or in greenhouses. Most vegetables and herbs can be grown for microgreens. Some of the more popular varieties include radish, mustard, beet, arugula, celery, cabbage, sunflower, cilantro, and basil.

Microgreens can be used as salad greens, sandwich toppings, garnish, flavor enhancers, and nutritional supplements. Many people also eat microgreens for their nutritional value. Microgreens are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

During harvest, the stems of the microgreens are cut just above the soil line. Only the stems and leaves are eaten. Microgreens can be sold live or packaged.

Microgreens are quickly increasing in popularity. These days, more and more people enjoy eating natural, organic, and healthy foods. You can sell to individuals, restaurants, individuals, and supermarkets.

Microgreens growing under a grow light

Why Start a Microgreens Business? 10 Benefits of Growing Microgreens as a Business

1. Fast Grow Time and Quick Turnaround

Microgreens grow from seed to harvest in just 1-4 weeks depending on the species. Most varieties are ready to harvest after 2 weeks. This fast grow time allows you to produce 26+ crops each year.

There are several benefits to this quick turnaround time. First, you can start making money quickly. You don’t have to wait for a whole season, like you would with traditional crops like corn or wheat.

Next, you can easily optimize your operation for efficiency. Because you’re starting a new batch every couple of weeks, you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.

With some luck, you could turn a profit in your first month. You can also easily scale production up or down as needed. If demand increases, you can quickly grow more in just a couple of weeks. If demand decreases seasonally, you can scale back.

A try of microgreens

2. Low Startup Cost

You could start a microgreens business for as little as $100. Here’s how:

Microgreens are grown in trays. Each tray costs around $2. Growing medium costs around $2 per tray. Seeds cost about $1-$5 per tray depending on the type you grow. You’ll also need a grow light. That costs around $50. You could start with 5 trays and a light for less than $100. The only other expenses are electricity and water.

This makes microgreens one of the best businesses for those who are on a tight budget. You could start by producing just enough microgreens to supply one restaurant or to sell at a local farmer’s market.

You could scale up from there with your profits. If you’re more serious, you could start a larger operation with around $1000. This budget would allow you to buy enough equipment to grow 40-60 trays, a few lights, and some shelves. You could earn $500-$1000 per week with this setup.

3. Microgreens Can Be Grown in a Small Space

You can grow microgreens profitably in a space as small as a bedroom, basement, or even a large closet. This is possible because microgreens can be grown vertically on shelves.

Most farmers grow on racks with 4 shelves. With an efficient operation, it’s possible to grow 50 lbs of microgreens per grow cycle in just 60 square feet of space. That’s the size of a walk-in closet or half of a bedroom. That’s efficient!

4. You Can Grow Microgreens Year Round

Because microgreens take up such a small amount of space, you can grow them indoors. Growing indoors allows you to grow year-round. Seasons don’t matter when you’re growing in a climate-controlled environment.

The benefit of being able to grow year-round is that you can produce consistent and reliable income. You don’t have to wait for the harvest season to make money.

This also makes microgreens a great way for farmers to diversify their crops. Grow microgreens indoors during the winter when nothing else can grow outside.

You can also start any time. You don’t have to wait for planting season like you do with outdoor crops. If you want, you can plant microgreens today.

5. It’s Easy to Scale

Once you have your business set up, you can easily add additional trays of microgreens. As long as you have the space, it’s easy to add racks and lights.

For example, if you start your business with 5 trays, you could buy supplies for 5 more trays from your profits and double your yield. Next, you could buy a second light and add 10 more trays, doubling your yield again.

After that, you could buy a rack and another light and add 10 more trays. From there you could buy a second rack and add 20 more trays. If you’re very successful, you could build a small greenhouse in your back yard for more space.

One T5 grow light can grow up to 10 trays of microgreens. Each rack can hold around 20 trays of microgreens. Each tray costs around $9 worth of supplies including the tray, grow pad, and seeds.

6. Easy to Grow

Starting a microgreens business doesn’t require any special equipment. All you need to grow microgreens is trays, seeds, soil, racks, and lights. You can buy this equipment at pretty much any gardening store or hardware store. All of these materials are available online as well.

Growing microgreens also doesn’t require any special skill. You can learn everything you need to know online. Because microgreens are grown indoors or in a greenhouse, you don’t have to worry much about pests or diseases.

Harvesting and packaging microgreens is easy as well. This is not a labor-intensive crop.

Probably the most challenging part of a microgreens business is selling your microgreens. Marketing and sales require some skill. Some people are good at it and others aren’t.

7. Microgreens are in High Demand

Microgreens are increasing in popularity and demand is increasing. According to this article, “The microgreens market is projected to register a CAGR of 7.5% during the forecast period, 2021 – 2026.”

Your customers will love the fact that your microgreens are locally grown. Having said this, there isn’t a demand for microgreens everywhere. You’ll want to check your local market before you commit. Currently, North America is the largest market for microgreens. They are unknown in some markets.

8. Microgreens are Highly Profitable

On average, it costs around $5 to grow a tray of microgreens. This cost includes the seeds, supplies, water, electricity, packaging, etc.

They are a high-value crop. Microgreens sell for $20-$40 per pound depending on where you live, the type of microgreens you grow, and their quality. Each tray produces around 8-12 oz of microgreens You can sell each tray for around $20, on average.

That means you can profit around $15 for each tray that you grow. If you were to grow 10 trays and harvest twice per month, you could bring in around $300.

You can start turning a profit quickly with a microgreens business. With some hard work, it’s possible to start earning a couple of thousand dollars per month after just a couple of months.

9. Microgreens are Nutritious

Microgreens are packed with important nutrients such as potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. They also contain high levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.

Research has shown that microgreen contain higher levels of nutrients than mature plants. Depending on the type of microgreens, nutrient levels are up to 40 times more concentrated.

10. Low Competition

Microgreens are best when they’re fresh. They don’t keep well after harvest and they don’t travel well. This means you’re mostly competing with other local microgreens sellers. You’re not competing with large corporations.

Another benefit of this is that you’ll be able to sell to your customers regularly. Restaurants will need a weekly delivery so they always have fresh microgreens to serve.

A package of microgreens

Supplies You’ll Need for Growing Microgreens

Growing microgreens does not require any specialty equipment. You can buy all of the supplies you’ll need either online or at a garden supply store or hardware store. To start growing microgreens, you’ll need:

  • Growing trays-  Microgreens are usually grown in 10” x 20” plastic trays. The trays should be fairly shallow. 1-2” deep trays work well. They should also have drain holes. Most growers start with 8-10 trays and scale up from there. The tray can be reused many times. Consider buying a second set of trays. This way, you can prep your next batch of microgreens while one is still growing. This can save you some time. Some growers like to double up their trays for a bit of extra stability. The trays can be kind of flimsy.
  • Grow lighting- You need lighting to provide energy for your microgreens. A standard 4 foot 2 light fixture works well. Each light fixture can support 8-10 trays of microgreens depending on your setup. You can choose from fluorescent lights or LEDs. LED lights cost more than fluorescent lights but last longer and use less electricity. You can use either T8 or T5 sized lights. T8 lights are usually preferred because they use less electricity. Your lights should produce at least 1700-2000 lumens.
  • Soil- Any potting soil will work fine for growing microgreens. You’ll need enough soil to fill your 10×20 trays 1-2” deep. If you prefer to grow hydroponically, you can use grow mats as a growing medium. Grow mats are cleaner and easier to use than soil but much more expensive. Soil can be reused.
  • Seeds- The seeds used to grow microgreens are the same seeds used to grow full-sized plants. When buying seeds, I recommend you spend a bit more and buy organic seeds. This way, you can market your microgreens as organic. Consider starting with radish seeds because they are the easiest to grow. They also grow fast. Exactly how many seeds you’ll need to buy depends on the type of microgreens you’re growing and how many trays you’re growing. On average, each tray needs around 1 ounce of seeds. You can buy seeds online. Be sure to in bulk to reduce your costs. Seeds are the most expensive component.  
  • Shelving- If you’re growing more than 8-10 trays, you’ll need some kind of shelf to stack your microgreens on. Otherwise, they start taking up too much space. One of the main benefits of microgreens as a crop is that they can be grown vertically on shelves. This allows you to fit many trays in a small amount of space. Many growers use basic wire storage shelving units with 4-6 shelves each. Each shelving unit can hold 16-25 trays of microgreens depending on the number of shelves.
  • Spray bottle- This is the most gentle and efficient way to water your microgreens when they’re germinating and sprouting. Spray them to prevent them from drying out during germination.
  • A small watering can- Once your microgreens get a bit bigger, it becomes more efficient to water them with a watering can. Choose a model with a fine spout that gently sprinkles water out. This prevents damage to the small delicate plants and helps you avoid overwatering.
  • Paper towels- When you first plant your seeds, it can be helpful to cover them with a damp paper towel. This creates a dark and humid environment that promotes germination. 
  • Small fan- This is necessary to keep your crop ventilated. A fan helps to reduce humidity and prevent mold from growing.
  • A timer- You’ll use this to set your lights to turn on and off automatically at specific times. This way, your microgreens get the ideal amount of light. You won’t forget to turn the light on or off.
  • A scale- For measuring out your microgreens for packaging and selling. A standard kitchen scale will work fine.
  • Scissors or a sharp knife- You’ll use these for harvesting your microgreens. Be sure the blades on your knife and scissors are sharp. Sharp blades make harvesting much easier. If you use a dull blade, you can damage your product.
  • Packaging- You need some kind of plastic or cardboard boxes to package and sell your microgreens in. Plastic packages are cheap and offer a nice presentation. Buyers can see your fresh microgreens through the clear plastic. Cardboard or paper boxes are a bit more environmentally friendly but are more expensive. Some buyers may want to buy live microgreens still growing in the trays. In this case, you won’t need packaging. 
  • Cooler or refrigerator- You need somewhere cool to store your microgreens after you harvest them. If you can’t keep your microgreens cool, they will quickly start to wilt. Microgreens have a short shelf life. When you’re just starting out, you can store them in your refrigerator at home. When you’re delivering your products, you can store them in a large cooler filled with ice. If you scale up your production, you can build a walk-in refrigerator in your home or buy a large refrigerator.

In addition to the above-listed items, you’ll need water and electricity to grow microgreens. You’ll need to water your microgreens every day or every other day. You’ll need electricity to power your lights, ventilation fan, and refrigerator. If your grow area gets cold, you may need heating. Microgreens grow best at around 70℉ (21°C).

Shopping for Microgreens Supplies

You can save money by buying some of your supplies in bulk. When you buy seeds, buy in bulk from a wholesaler to cut down on cost. You can easily buy seeds online and have them shipped to you. You can find a seller by searching ‘buy microgreens seeds in (your country)”.

Costs of Growing Microgreens include:

  • Trays- 1020 trays cost around $2-$3 each. If you buy them in bulk, they cost a bit less.
  • Lights- A 4 foot 2 light fixture costs around $30. Two T8 lightbulbs cost around $10. You will need a light fixture for every 8-10 trays.
  • Soil or grow pads- Quality soil will cost about $1 per tray. Each cubic foot of potting soil can fill around 9 trays. A 2 cubic foot bag of potting soil costs around $15. Grow pads cost around $2 per tray. You can reuse the soil but you can’t reuse the grow pads.
  • Seeds- Seed cost depends on the type of microgreens you’re growing and whether or not they’re organic. On average, each tray needs 1 oz of seeds. Seeds can cost anywhere from $1-$5 per ounce. Specialty varieties can cost more.
  • Spray bottle- You can buy a plastic spray bottle for less than $3. You could also re-use an old one that cleaner came in. Just be sure to clean it really well first.
  • Watering can- You can buy a small plastic watering can for less than $5 online or at a gardening store.
  • Small fan- A small fan for ventilation costs $10-$20.
  • Timer- A basic plug-in mechanical timer costs $6-$10.
  • Paper towels- You can buy a roll for $2 or less.
  • Shelving- A simple shelving unit with 4-6 shelves costs $60-$150 depending on the quality and size. You only need shelving if you’re growing more than 8-10 trays or if you’re short on space. You will need 1 shelf for every  12-18 trays.
  • Scale- A basic food scale costs $10-$15.
  • Scissors and knife- You can buy a decent pair of scissors for less than $10 and a decent knife for around $20.
  • Cooler or refrigerator- A large cooler costs $25-$50.
  • Packaging- Plastic boxes cost around $0.50 each. You can buy them in packs of 50 or 100 online.
  • Water and electricity- Water and electricity costs vary depending on where you live. The water expense is so low it’s not worth worrying about. A few trays of microgreens don’t take much water. Your fluorescent lights will only cost a few dollars each per year to run. They are very energy efficient. You won’t have to worry about these expenses until you scale up your production.

Basic supplies to start growing 8-10 trays of microgreens costs around $200-$300. An 8 flat setup is ideal when you’re first starting out.

If you’re on a really tight budget, you can get started for even less. All you really need is trays ($20), a light ($50), soil ($15), seeds ($10), a scale ($10), packages ($5), and a pair of scissors ($10). That’s less than $120. You could purchase the rest of your supplies with your profit after making your first sale. Chances are you already have some items at home like a spray bottle, paper towels, scissors, etc.

Some of the above costs are variable and some are fixed costs. The variable costs you’ll have include seeds, soil, trays, lights, shelves, paper towels, and packaging. The more microgreens you grow, the more of each of these items you’ll have to buy. Costs increase with your production.

Pretty much everything else is a one-time fixed expense. For example, you only need one scale, watering can, pair of scissors, etc. Your trays, light fixtures, fans, scale, etc. will last you many cycles. Of course, everything wears out over time. You’ll want to budget for replacement gear.

Once you scale up your business, you can start buying more equipment in bulk. If you need 100 trays, 5 racks, 10 lights, and large bags of seeds, you can often get a bulk discount. A large setup like this could easily cost over $1000-$1500 to set up. It’s best to start small and slowly scale up, even if money isn’t an issue.

As your business grows, you can buy additional equipment and upgrade equipment with your profits. If you start with 8 trays and sell each tray for a profit of $20, you’ll earn around $160 every 1-2 weeks. This is plenty of money to slowly upgrade your operation.

growing in trays

How to Start a Microgreens Business

A microgreens business is one of the easiest businesses to start. The barrier to entry is low. Pretty much anyone can start this business.

There are two parts to a microgreens business: growing and selling. Both are equally important.

Growing microgreens is easy. It doesn’t require any special skills or education. The cost of equipment is also low. Because microgreens can be grown indoors, the climate doesn’t really matter.

Selling microgreens is a bit more challenging. Not everyone knows what microgreens are. They can be a tough sell in some markets. The following steps will help you get your microgreens business off the ground.

Step 1: Research your Market

Before you start growing any microgreens, take some time to do some market research. You want to find out if there is demand for microgreens where you live. They can be easy to sell in some areas and hard to sell in others.

Location is incredibly important in the microgreens business. You will be selling your microgreens locally. You want to learn if there is demand in your area. Microgreens tend to sell well in areas with lots of medium to high-end restaurants and grocery stores. Microgreens also sell well in areas with lots of health-conscious people. If you live in a low-income area, you may have trouble selling microgreens. They are somewhat of a luxury product.

You also want to determine how much profit you can make. Growing microgreens can be highly profitable in some areas and not so profitable in others. You’ll need to get a feel for how much competition you’re facing. Are there other microgreens businesses in your area? If there is too much competition, it will be harder to make sales.

You’ll also want to find out how much you can sell your microgreens for. This will help you determine whether or not a microgreens business is viable where you live. Research pricing.

You’ll also want to think about where and how you’re going to sell your microgreens. A few places you can sell microgreens include restaurants, farmer’s markets, and grocery stores. You may also be able to sell to wholesalers if you produce a lot.

Start your research by calling around or visiting some local restaurants, shops, and farmer’s markets. Ask local restaurant owners and chefs if they use microgreens in their menus. Try to find out what kinds of microgreens they use.

Look around local grocery stores to see if they sell microgreens. Take note of their prices and what types they offer. Look at the packaging for some inspiration about how you could package your product.

Next, go to some nearby farmer’s markets to see if anyone is selling microgreens. If they do, look at the quality of their product, their prices, and the varieties they sell. Also, look at their packaging and presentation. Try to see how they’re storing their product.

You might also call a wholesaler to see what kinds of microgreens they buy and how much they pay.

Take notes about all of this information. With some research, you can learn about the best types of microgreens to grow in your area, how much they sell for, where they’re sold, and how they’re sold. All of this information is valuable.

Step 2: Research How to Grow Microgreens and How to Start a Microgreens Business

You want to gather as much information as possible before you start growing. Spend time reading blogs and websites about microgreens. Watch YouTube videos from successful microgreens growers. Go to your local library and read some books about gardening, farming, starting a small business, etc.

Research can help you avoid making mistakes. You’ll learn from the mistakes of others. This will save you time and money. You will also help you become profitable sooner if you take time to learn the business.

In addition, you’ll produce a higher quality product when you know what you’re doing. You can learn a lot by reading, watching, and listening to others.

Step 3: Set Up Your Growing Space

Before you buy your equipment, you should decide where you’re going to grow your microgreens. This could be a spare bedroom, basement, garage, shed, warehouse, greenhouse, closet, or backyard.

The beauty of microgreens is that they don’t require much space because they can be grown vertically on shelves. They don’t require natural light. You can use artificial lighting. You also don’t need to grow many to make decent money. It’s possible to grow thousands of dollars worth of microgreens per month in your basement.

Your growing space does need to have the proper climate. The ideal grow temperature is 68-72°F (around 20-22°C). If you live in a cold climate, you’ll have to grow indoors for part of the year or heat your grow space.

Your grow space also needs decent ventilation. A small fan can help greatly if you’re growing in a confined space. You also need access to electricity for running lights and fans. You’ll need water.

When you’re just getting started, it’s best to grow in a place that you don’t have to pay for if possible. For example, grow in a closet, basement, or extra bedroom that you already have. You don’t want to go out and buy, build, or rent a permanent grow space until you get your business established.

Step 4: Purchase Seeds and Equipment

Shop around for the equipment you need. Shop both online and locally for the best prices. Try to buy in bulk where you can. Many sellers offer discounts on bulk purchases. Seeds are one of your biggest expenses and you’ll go through a lot of them. They are much cheaper when you buy in bulk online.

For example, sunflower microgreen seeds may cost $15 per pound when you buy 1 pound. If you buy 5 lbs, they might cost just $8 per pound. This is a massive savings. If you’re successful in your business, you will go through hundreds of pounds of seeds. Over time, you’ll save thousands by buying in bulk.

Try to start your business with the bare minimum equipment. It doesn’t make sense to go out and buy a bunch of expensive shelving, lighting, ventilation, and irrigation equipment when you’re just getting started. If your business fails, you don’t want to have a bunch of money tied up in stuff you don’t need. Even if you can afford all of the equipment, it’s best to scale up your production slowly over the course of a few months or a year.

You can always upgrade with your profits as your business grows. All you need to get started is some trays, a light, soil, seeds, and a watering can.

Step 5: Set Up Your Equipment in Your Grow Space

Build out your grow area. Exactly what this involves depends on where you’re growing your microgreens.

Start by installing your shelving or creating a flat surface to set your trays on. Hang your lighting around 8-12 inches above your trays. Mount your ventilation fan near the trays. Set up a table or flat surface where you can do your planting and harvesting. Create a storage area for your watering can, spray bottle, extra trays, soil, harvesting and packaging equipment, etc. Organization can streamline your business.

Step 4: Grow Your First Crop of Microgreens

For new microgreens growers, it’s best to start out with 8-10 trays and grow just 1 variety per week. Try to choose easy-to-grow and popular varieties to start with such as sunflower, pea, or radish.

You don’t want to grow 50 trays and a bunch of different types of microgreens when you’re starting out. You’ll overwhelm yourself and produce a poor-quality product. Start small for a few cycles until you’ve mastered the growing process.

How to Grow Microgreens

  1. Start by filling your trays with 1.5-2 inches of soil.
  2. Spread the seeds evenly on top of the soil. For most varieties, you’ll use around 1 ounce of seeds per tray.
  3. Gently tamp the seeds into the soil. Water the trays with your spray bottle. This will start the germination process.
  4. Cover the trays with either a paper towel or a humidity dome. For small-seeded varieties of microgreens, paper towels work better. For large seeded varieties, a humidity dome is preferable. During germination, you can store your trays in a dark area. Light is not required for germination.
  5. After the seeds sprout, remove the paper towels or humidity dome. Place the trays under your grow lights. Leave the lights on for 12-14 hours per day. The lights should turn on and off at the same time each day. Use a timer to turn your light on and off automatically.
  6. After about two weeks, your microgreens will be ready to harvest. Some varieties are ready to harvest in as little as one week. Some varieties take closer to three weeks.

Step 5: Harvest Your Microgreens

Use scissors or a sharp knife to harvest your microgreens. Most varieties of microgreens are harvested when they have 4 leaves (when the first set of true leaves develop.) Cut the microgreens right above the soil level.

After you harvest your microgreens run them under some fresh water to remove any soil particles, seed hulls, or other contaminants. Store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Weigh them and package them to prepare them for sale.

Some types of microgreens regrow after they’re cut. Some varieties can only be harvested one time.

When you’re ready to plant your next crop, you can reuse the soil. Simply turn the soil over, plant fresh seeds, water them, and cover them. If you need to, add some fresh soil on top. The roots from the first crop can compost themselves. After several cycles, you’ll need to use fresh soil.

You can also sell your microgreens while they are still living.

Step 6: Sell your Microgreens

Growing microgreens is pretty easy. Selling them is the hard part. It takes a lot of time and work to develop your brand, market your product, and build a customer base.

There are a number of places to sell microgreens. You can sell them to:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Directly to consumers at farmer’s markets
  • Caterers
  • Wholesalers

Most microgreens farmers use a number of different sales channels.

When you start selling, it’s best to focus on one market. For example, maybe you only focus on high-end restaurants. Later, you could open up a kiosk at a farmer’s market or expand to grocery stores.

To be profitable in your business, you’ll have to sell at least 90% of the microgreens that you produce. If you lose too much product to spoilage, you’ll start losing money.

Selling to Chefs and Restaurant Owners

Probably the best approach when starting your business is to visit local restaurants and try to sell to the chef or owner. Make a list of restaurants to visit. Target higher-end restaurants and restaurants that specialize in healthy or fresh foods.

You can simply show up or phone in advance and try to make an appointment. As a previous restaurant manager, I recommend you simply show up. Try to come during a slow period. If the restaurant is busy when you arrive, try coming back later.

To prepare for your meeting, you should make an info sheet and have a business card. The info sheet should include the products you offer, your prices, and how to order. Include information such as the days you deliver and quantities you can deliver.

If possible, bring some product with you in a cooler. Have it nicely packaged so it presents nicely during the meeting. It’s also a good idea to bring some free samples of your product to offer to your potential customers. 4 oz samples work well. Be generous with your samples. That way, they can see, taste, and use your microgreens before they buy.

When you’re starting out, try to visit 15-25 restaurants per week. If you don’t hear back from a restaurant, come back or give them a call after a couple of days and ask them how they liked your product. Ask them if they’d like to place an order.

If you’re good at sales, you may be able to sell to 10% of the restaurants you visit. If you can make sales to 1-3 restaurants per week, you’ll have 10-20 regular customers after just a couple of months.

Try to get a recurring order if you can. This type of order makes it easier to plan ahead for your business. You’ll have less waste if you know exactly how much you have to produce per week. Your income will be more stable as well.

If each restaurant orders $50 worth of microgreens per week, you can generate $2000-$4000 per month in revenue.

Direct to Consumers at Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s markets can be a highly profitable sales channel. Because you’re selling directly to the end consumer, you can charge retail prices.

The drawback to selling to farmer’s markets is the red tape and setup. You’ll have to apply for a spot and pay a weekly market fee. If someone is already selling microgreens, your application probably won’t be accepted. You’ll also have to buy some additional supplies such as a tent and table to sell from as well as a large cooler. In some jurisdictions, you may have to deal with additional health and safety regulations.

Once you’re set up, you could make a good amount of money by selling at farmer’s markets on weekends. If you live in a large city, there may be a dozen farmer’s markets located within driving distance.

Grocery Stores

You can sell your microgreens to your local supermarkets. The process for selling to grocery stores is similar to selling at restaurants. You’ll have to arrange a meeting with the person in charge of buying produce. Bring your info sheet and samples.

It is possible to sell to both local stores as well as large chains. These days, many people enjoy eating locally produced foods. Many stores buy produce from local sellers.

Catering Companies

Catering companies tend to offer higher-end food. Many use microgreens in their cooking. This is a sales channel that many sellers don’t think of. Competition is lower here.

To sell to catering companies, give them a call or visit their location if they have one. Be sure to bring your card, info sheet, and free samples.

Wholesalers

Selling wholesale will bring in the least amount of money per tray. The benefit is that selling to a wholesaler saves you time. You won’t have to deal with pitching your product to dozens of restaurants or spending a whole day at a farmer’s market.

If you produce a lot of microgreens, selling to a wholesaler can be profitable. This is also a good option for those who aren’t good at sales.

Step 7: Experiment and Keep Records

It may take some trial and error to learn how to grow microgreens efficiently. During the first month or two, experiment a bit. Test out different seed densities, hours of light, temperatures, amounts of water, soil types, humidity levels, etc.

Measure your production and take notes on a spreadsheet. This information will help you optimize your business. If you can find a way to improve yields, cut costs, or reduce your growth time, you’ll increase your earnings substantially.

Some good metrics to track in your microgreens business include:

  • The type of seeds- You can’t directly compare different types of seeds.
  • Where you bought the seeds- Some companies sell better quality seeds than others. If a bunch of seeds don’t germinate, you’ll want to avoid the company you bought them from.
  • The date and time you planted the seeds- This helps you track your growth time.
  • The technique you used- Did you soak the seeds? Did you cover them with a paper towel?
  • Seed density- How many seeds did you use per tray? A higher density of seeds can improve your yield. If you plant too many seeds per tray, you’ll waste seeds and money.
  • Hours of light- Try 10, 11, 12, and 14 hours of light. Running your lights for fewer hours saves electricity and money. If you don’t run your lights enough, the quality of your product will suffer and growth time will increase.
  • Trays per light- Try 8 and 10 trays per light.
  • Humidity- The humidity could affect the yield or growth time or quality of the plants.
  • Amount of water- Try watering daily and every other day. Less frequent watering can save you time.
  • Harvest time and date- This helps you track how long it took for each crop to grow. The shorter your growth time, the more cycles you can grow per year. If you can cut your growth time by a day by making optimizations, you can produce 2 extra crops per year.
  • Yield per tray- Measure the weight of the microgreens after harvest. The more you yield per tray, the more you can sell each tray for.
  • Costs- Track the total cost to grow each tray. You may find that one technique sacrifices a bit of yield for a large cost savings. This could be a net positive.
  • Revenue- This is the total amount of money our business brings in.
  • Labor time- Track how much time you’re spending growing your microgreens. This will help you price your product.

Use the above information to make business decisions and streamline your growing process. Finding a way to save a few minutes or cutting costs by a few cents per tray could put hundreds or thousands of extra dollars in your pocket every year. 

Record keeping is also important for tracking your business. You need to keep track of all business expenses and sales. You need to know how much it costs you to grow each tray of each variety of microgreens and how long it takes you to grow each tray. This will help you price your products. You also need to know how much money you’re bringing in to track your profit. You’ll need this information to help you run your business efficiently and to pay your taxes.

Step 8: Expand your Business

Once you nail your growing process down and have a few customers, you can start expanding your business. There are several ways to go about this.

You could add a new variety of microgreens to your offering. More obscure or harder-to-grow varieties of microgreens can command a higher price.

Another option is to expand your marketing efforts. Open up a stand at a local farmer’s market. Start approaching grocery stores to carry your product. Start selling in the next town over if you’ve exhausted your local market.

You may also choose to hire an employee if the work gets to be too much for you. You could hire someone to help you grow and process, sell, or do deliveries.

Microgreens growing

How Much Money Can I Earn Selling Microgreens?

Your revenue depends on a number of factors including the number of trays of microgreens you can grow and sell, your local market, the types of microgreens you produce, the efficiency of your setup, and more.

On average, microgreens sell for $20-$30 per pound. Each tray of microgreens can yield anywhere from 6-12 ounces. It is possible to produce anywhere from 1-2 pounds of microgreens per square foot of space if you grow vertically on shelves. An average grow cycle is 14 days. Each tray of microgreens can sell for $7.50-$22.50. That’s a big range.

For example, let’s assume you’re growing in a 60 square foot room and you sell your microgreens for $25 per pound. By growing on rack, most growers can produce 50 lbs of microgreens per cycle in a 60 square foot space.

Assuming each cycle takes 2 weeks, you could produce about 100 lbs of microgreens per month. If you were to sell your microgreens for $25 per pound, you’d bring in $2500 per month in revenue.

This is a pretty conservative estimate. In many markets, you can sell your microgreens for more than $25 per pound. With an efficient setup, you could yield more than 1 lb of microgreens per square foot.

Of course, you could also grow more than 60 square feet of microgreens. Some types of microgreens can be harvested more than twice per month. On average, you can expect to make $30-$60 per square foot of grow space.

Of course, the money you bring in isn’t pure profit. You’ll also have to take your costs into consideration. You need to factor in the cost of seeds, soil, packaging, water, and electricity. Once in a while, you’ll have additional expenses like replacement trays, new light bulbs, a new rack, etc. 

How Much Can I Earn Per Month Growing 10 Trays of Microgreens?

Revenue for 10 trays of microgreens:

Assuming you’re able to sell each of your 10 trays for $20 and you can harvest twice per month, you’ll bring in $400 per month (10 trays x 20 dollars per tray x 2 harvests per month = $400).

Expenses for 10 trays of microgreens:

On average, it costs around $5 to grow a tray of microgreens. This includes supplies, water and electricity, taxes, insurance, and waste.

 The main recurring expenses to grow 10 trays of microgreens include:

  • Trays- $20 ($2 per tray)
  • Soil- $10 (around $1 per tray)
  • Seeds- $10 (assuming $1 per tray)
  • Packaging- $10 (assuming $0.50 per package)

You’ll also need a light but that is a one-time expense.

Assuming you start with a bare-bones setup, the total expenses to grow your first 10 trays of microgreens will be around $100. The trays can be reused. Your next crops of 10 tray will only cost around $35 to grow on average. You’ll also have to pay for utilities and maybe some additional supplies like a watering can or scissors.

In the first month, you may spend around $150 on supplies and bring in around $400. That leaves you with a profit of around $250 from growing 10 trays of microgreens. That’s pretty good for such a small setup.

The following month, your expenses will be lower. You might spend only $100 to grow 20 total trays of microgreens. That leaves you with a profit of $300. As you scale up, you can cut costs further by buying in bulk.

Labor Cost

It’s important to consider the value of your time when pricing your microgreens You don’t want to go to all of this trouble starting a microgreens business then find that you’re only making $5 per hour. It’s not worth it.

First, think about how much you would need to earn per hour to make growing microgreens worth your time. For some people, $20-30 per hour is reasonable. Others might not be happy earning less than $40-$60 per hour. You can use your expected earnings to help you price your product.

For example, assume that you want to make $30 per hour and each tray of microgreens takes you 20 minutes to plant, harvest, and sell. This means each tray costs $10 worth of labor. Now, assume that your overhead is $5 per tray including supplies, utilities, taxes, etc.

In this example, you’ll have to charge at least $15 per tray to earn $30 per hour of labor. If you have an employee, use their hourly pay when calculating your cost per tray.

It’s important to note that the labor cost may vary based on the sales channel.

Pricing Your Microgreens

When pricing your microgreens, you need to consider the cost of production and labor, how and where you sell your microgreens, and your local market. You need to have competitive prices. At the same time, you don’t want to cut your margins too thin. If you price your product too high, you won’t make any sales. If you price too low, you won’t make any money.

Start off by calculating the minimum price that you can charge as outlined above in the labor section. Your minimum price will vary depending on how you sell your microgreens.

For example, you’ll need to charge more if you sell at a farmer’s market because it takes quite a bit of time to set up and run your table. You might spend 10 hours at the farmer’s market. It’s a full day of work. There is more product waste at farmer’s markets as well.

You can charge less if you sell to a grocery store or restaurant because the sale is quicker once you have the relationship established. You might be able to make all of your deliveries in 2 hours. There is also less product waste. Less packaging is required as well.

Start off by calculating the minimum price that you can charge for your microgreens and remain profitable. You may need to make multiple calculations for different sales channels. You might need to charge different prices at farmer’s market and restaurants. Next, check what your competitors are charging. You’ll need to match or beat their prices.

If your market is extremely competitive, chances are you’ll need to keep your prices as low as possible. If there is high demand in your market, you can raise your prices until demand starts to drop. Generally, you want to price your product so 20% of potential customers don’t buy. If you’re selling to everyone you approach, your prices are too low.

If you’re not able to earn your desired hourly wage, you’ll have to rethink things. You’ll need to find a way to improve efficiency and cut your costs or increase yields. Alternatively, you’ll need to increase prices. If competition is high, this may not be possible. In this case, a microgreens business may not be viable in your location.

When you’re just getting started, it’s important to price your product properly. If you’re not sure about your pricing, it’s better to start with prices that are too high and lower them if you’re not making enough sales. It is difficult to raise prices on your established customers. To help you set your price, look at what your competitors are charging. Try to beat their price if you can.

The Best Types of Microgreens to Grow

When you’re just starting your business, it’s best to choose one or two varieties of microgreens to focus on. After you become comfortable with the growing process and get your business established, you can expand to other varieties.

It’s best to start out with a common variety. These will be easier to sell. It’s also a good idea to start with a quick-growing and high-yielding microgreen. These are the most profitable.

The 5 best types of microgreens to grow when starting your business include:

  1. Radish- These microgreens are easy to grow and offer a great yield. They also offer a delicious spicy flavor, excellent nutrition, and beautiful color. These are easy to sell.
  2. Sunflower- This is the most popular type of microgreens. If you grow these, you won’t have any trouble selling them. Sunflower microgreens offer a sweet and nutty flavor with a crunchy texture. They keep well in the fridge and offer a good yield.
  3. Arugula- These microgreens grow incredibly quickly. They germinate in just 2 days and are ready to harvest by day 10. They offer a nice spicy flavor and are incredibly nutritious.
  4. Peas- The best part about growing peas is that they regrow after harvest. This means you can harvest each tray of peas multiple times. They also have a nice mild flavor and exotic look.
  5. Salad mix- A salad mix can have a unique texture and appearance that chefs like.  They also have a fairly mild flavor. Look for a mix with arugula, lettuce, mustard, and cabbage. Alternatively, mix your own.

Microgreens are commonly used to add flavor to food. For this reason, spicy varieties tend to be the most popular. Spicy microgreens include radish, arugula, mustard, cabbage, cilantro, and basil.

Colorful microgreens are also popular for use as garnish. The most popular types of microgreens used to add color include kale and Swiss chard.

Some other common microgreens that you might consider adding to your offerings include beets, broccoli, collards, kale, carrot, lettuce, celery, oregano, and wheat grass.

Almost any type of herb or vegetable can be grown as microgreens with a few exceptions.

Sunflower microgreens growing
Sunflower microgreens

How to Sell Microgreens: Marketing and Branding Your Microgreens Business

Good branding and marketing can significantly increase the profitability of your microgreens business. If you can market your microgreens as high quality, healthy, organic, or premium, you can sell them for higher prices. If you develop a strong brand, you’ll bring back more repeat customers.

The best way to build a brand and market your microgreens is to advertise. A few ways to advertise microgreens include:

  • Write a sales pitch- If you’re not a natural salesperson, write yourself a script and memorize it. Include information about the types of microgreens you offer, pricing, benefits of microgreens, etc. Learn as much as you can about microgreens so you can answer any questions that may come up while you’re selling.
  • Signs and banners- This is important if you’re selling microgreens at a farmer’s market. Your signs and banners let people know what you’re selling.
  • Design a logo and packaging- If you plan to sell your microgreens to grocery stores, it’s important to design an attractive logo and packaging. A beautiful logo and package that shows off the freshness of your product will increase sales.
  • Coupons or discounts- You could offer coupons or discounts to repeat customers. For example, you could offer restaurants a 10% discount if they commit to a weekly order of $50 or more. You could hand out coupons if you sell at a farmer’s market.
  • Offer free samples- You could package some microgreens in plastic bags to hand out to the restaurants that you visit. If you’re selling at a farmer’s market, you could offer a small salad as a sample.
  • Create a website- Build a simple website that outlines the types of microgreens you offer and your pricing. Include your contact information. You could even offer online ordering.
  • Create flyers or pamphlets- Design an info sheet that explains what microgreens are, their benefits, and their uses. Many people are not familiar with microgreens.

Legal Requirements to Consider When Starting a Microgreens Business

  • Licenses and permits- Depending on where you live, you may need a business license to sell microgreens legally. You’ll want to check with your city to see which licenses you need. Licensing for a small business like this is usually easy.
  • Tax- In some jurisdictions, you’ll need to collect sales tax from your customers. You may choose to include sales tax in the purchase price. You’ll forward this tax to your government. If your business turns a profit, you may need to pay income tax.
  • Health and safety regulations- You may need to follow certain rules while growing and selling to ensure that your microgreens are safe to eat. For example, you may have to use a specific type of packaging, wash your microgreens, or store them in a specific way. Usually, the regulations for microgreens are pretty minimal, unlike sprouts. In some cities, you cannot store cut microgreens in a residential refrigerator. In this case, you would need to build or rent a commercial kitchen to store your product. If you’re growing a lot, you may need to build yourself a walk in cooler. This gets expensive. Alternatively, you could cut your microgreens immediately before you sell them so they don’t need to be refrigerated.
  • Insurance- If you hire employees, you may need worker’s compensation insurance. This protects your business if an employee gets injured at work. You may also need to insure your growing equipment if you run a large operation. You might also need business insurance to protect you from lawsuits from customers. For example, if a customer claims they got sick from your microgreens, they could sue you.
  • Accounting- You’ll need to track your income and expenses so you pay the appropriate taxes. You’ll also want to track your business performance to help you make business decisions.
  • Business structure- The business structure you choose plays a role in how you’re taxed and the type of insurance you need. When you’re just starting out growing in your home, a sole proprietorship or partnership might be best. Once you start making money, you might be better off with a corporation such as an LLC.
Beetroot
Beetroot microgreens

Some Common Problems While Growing Microgreens

What if my microgreens are rotting or molding?

Microgreens can rot or mold when the temperature or humidity is too high. If you live in a hot or wet climate, you may experience problems with this.

The ideal temperature for growing most types of microgreens is around 68-72°F (20-22°C). The ideal humidity for growing microgreens is around 50%. Try to get the climate in your grow space as close to this as possible.

If the temperature or humidity is too high in your grow room, find a way to reduce it. Opening a window and running fans can work well to increase ventilation and reduce humidity.

What if My Microgreens are Tall and Spindly?

This means that your microgreens aren’t receiving enough light. Plants grow tall and spindly in attempt to get closer to the light.

To correct this, increase the number of hours of light your microgreens get. They need at least 4-8 hours of light per day.

You could also move your light closer to your microgreens. Ideally, the light should be around 12 inches from your microgreens.

What if My Microgreens Seeds are Germinating Unevenly or Poorly?

If your trays are germinating unevenly, make sure you’re planting your seeds evenly across the tray. You may also want to check your soil quality. Also, make sure your soil is mixed well. You should also check to make sure that your trays are receiving even lighting, watering, and air circulation. These factors can all affect germination.

If your seeds are germinating poorly, there are a number of possible causes. You could be underwatering your seeds. You should never let your seeds dry out during germination.  It’s also important to avoid overwatering.

You also need to maintain the proper temperature to ensure that your seeds germinate. For most plants, 55-75°F is ideal. If it gets too hot or too cold in your grow room, your seeds may not germinate.

If you soak your seeds before planting them, you’ll want to be sure not to oversoak them. Some seeds can die if they are soaked in water too long. For example, broccoli seeds are sensitive to oversoaking. They can drown.

You may also want to consider your seed age and quality. Some seeds don’t sprout when they’re too fresh. They need to remain dormant for a while. You could have received a bad batch of seeds from the seller.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Starting a Microgreens Business

How Much Money Do I Need to Start a Microgreens Business

You don’t need expensive farming equipment or acres of land to grow microgreens. You could start a barebones microgreens business with as little as $100.

Ideally, you should have around $300-$500 to start with. This will allow you to buy quality equipment and start growing around 10 trays. This will allow you to produce enough microgreens to get your business off the ground.

This starting budget assumes that you already have a space to grow microgreens such as a spare bedroom or basement.

You’ll also need to spend a bit more if you plan to grow microgreens outdoors in a greenhouse. You can build a basic hoop house for around $3-$5 per square foot or $400-$600.

How Much Room Do I Need to Grow Microgreens?

One of the biggest benefits of microgreens is that they can be grown in an incredibly small space. You don’t need acreage to farm microgreens. You can grow them in a spare bedroom, basement, garage, or even in a large closet.

To make growing microgreens worthwhile, you should have around 100 square feet of space to work with. That’s the size of a walk-in closet. This amount of space will allow you to produce at least 60 lbs of microgreens for every 2-week growing period if you grow vertically on shelves. That’s 120 lbs of microgreens per month.

Assuming you sell your microgreens for $20 per pound, you’ll bring in $2400 per month in revenue with just 100 square feet of space.

With an efficient grow operation, it’s possible to make $30-$50 per square foot of space. That means you could potentially bring in $1500-$2000 per month with just 50 square feet of space.

It will take some effort to achieve this level of efficiency. You will have to grow vertically on shelves. You’ll also have to develop a reliable client base. Spoilage can really eat into your profits if you can’t sell what you grow.

How Much Can I Earn From a Microgreens Business?

You can start earning $200-$500+ per month growing 8-10 trays of microgreens and selling 2 or 3 restaurants.

Within a year or so, you could scale up to growing 100-200 trays and earning $5,000+ per month selling to 20-30 restaurants.

From there, the sky is the limit. You could build a greenhouse in your yard to expand or rent a warehouse to grow in. You could hire employees to help you grow, sell, and make deliveries. This business could bring in well over $100,000 per year.

If you live in a smaller city, there is a limit to how many microgreens you can sell.

How Much Should I Sell My Microgreens For?

On average, microgreens sell for $25-$40 per pound.

The sales price of your microgreens depends on demand, competition, and the region you live in. You’ll have to do some market research to properly price your microgreens. Check to see what other local growers are charging. Look at the prices in at your local farmer’s markets and in grocery stores.

How Much Time Does a Microgreens Business Require?

The amount of time it takes to run a microgreens business really depends on the size of your business. If you’re just growing 10-20 trays, you might only spend 1-2 hours per week planting, growing, and harvesting your microgreens. You’ll have to spend a couple more hours per week marketing and selling. Selling microgreens is a good side hustle.

If you’re running a large operation growing 100+ flats at a time and bringing in a six figure income, your microgreens business will be a full-time job. You’ll spend multiple hours per day planting and growing. You’ll also need to dedicate several hours per day to selling and delivery.

At this point, you’ll need to hire some employees in order to keep up with demand. One person could probably handle 100 trays on their own. Any more than that and you’ll need employees.

Growing microgreens doesn’t take that much time. The most time consuming job is selling your microgreens. Running a stand at a farmer’s market takes a full day. Driving all over town making deliveries could be a full-time job on its own.

The good news is that you can take advantage of economies of scale when expanding your microgreens business. It doesn’t take much more time to grow and sell 20 trays of microgreens than 10 trays. Once you get up to 50-100+ trays, you’re looking at a full-time job.

The beauty of this business is that you can control the number of hours you want to spend. If you only have 20 hours per week to dedicate to the business, you could grow a couple of dozen trays and earn an extra $1000-$1500 per month. If you enjoy the work and decide to go full time, you have that option.

Can I Run a Microgreens Business Alone or Do I Need Employees?

When you’re just starting out, you can operate your microgreens business by yourself. An individual can manage around 100-140 trays of microgreens by themselves. How many trays you can handle depends on how fast you work.

The most time-consuming part of the business is harvest. You can harvest 100 trays in around 5 hours if it takes you 3 minutes to harvest each tray. Sales and delivery are also very time-consuming.

If you plan to grow more, you’ll need to start hiring employees to help you out. You can hire employees to help you grow, harvest, market, or make deliveries. Over time, you can develop a team and focus more on managing your business.

Is the Microgreens Business Seasonal?

No, microgreens are not a seasonal product. They can be grown indoors year-round. You can grow them in your home if you live in a cold climate. There is also demand for microgreens year-round. There is no off-season.

What to Expect from a Microgreens Business?

A microgreens business is quick and easy to get started. You could start selling your product just 3-4 weeks after starting the business. Before you start growing, it’s a good idea to read some books, watch some videos, and do your research.

This isn’t a get rich quick business. To find success, you need to be realistic in your expectations when going in. Chances are it will take 3-6 months before you start to turn a profit. You may only make a few hundred dollars per month at first. It will take even longer for business to bring in enough money to support you financially.

This business is also highly dependent on location. In some markets, a microgreens business simply isn’t viable. There just isn’t enough demand. In some markets, there may be too much competition. There is a real chance that your microgreens business will fail.

You can reduce the likelihood of this happening by doing your due diligence and making a solid business plan before you start.

It’s also important to note that the labor involved in growing microgreens is fairly monotonous. You’ll spend hours planting, harvesting, and packaging your product.

This business requires a fair amount of experimentation. You’ll have to test different amounts of light, temperature, humidity, seed density, germination methods, etc. It takes some trial and error in order to find the most efficient growing process

You’ll also need to be business minded to find success growing microgreens for profit. Growing microgreens is only half of the business. The other half is selling. Selling is arguably the most difficult part of the business. Start by either placing a stand at a local farmer’s market or selling to local restaurants.

Because the startup cost is so low, this is a low risk business to start. If you find that growing microgreens isn’t for you, you’ll only be out a few hundred dollars worth of supplies and your time.

Final Thoughts

Microgreens are an excellent crop for those who live in an urban environment. You can farm microgreens in a spare bedroom or basement. Because they can be grown indoors, you can grow them in any climate. They are easy to grow. The startup cost is low. Microgreens can also be an extremely profitable crop with sales prices of up to $50 per pound.

Microgreens are also in high demand. The demand is also increasing every year. People enjoy consuming microgreens due to their high nutritional value. Microgreens are also an environmentally friendly and sustainable crop. They require no harmful pesticides or herbicides to grow.

Best of all, the microgreens industry is not dominated by massive corporations. This is the case because microgreens do not store or travel well. They need to be consumed when fresh. It is possible for small scale growers to earn a nice income in this industry.

Within 3-6 months, it’s possible to build a microgreens business that brings in $1000 per month. Growing your microgreens consistently will take some trial and error to learn. Selling microgreens takes some skill. If you’re willing to put in the time, this can become a highly profitable business.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you decide whether or not a microgreens business is right for you.

Do you grow microgreens? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!

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