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“$2000 a week growing in your basement during the winter.” “$10000 a month with a low-cost startup.”

These are the kinds of statements one sees when researching microgreens but is it true and reproducible under the right conditions? Testing the feasibility and profitability of a microgreen enterprise is my main goal for the program.

What is a microgreen?

A micro green is a seedling (young plant). These are distinct from sprouts which have no true leaves and are younger plants. What are the benefits of microgreens? The benefits are many. It has been shown scientifically that microgreens are nutrient-dense, containing much higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals compared to the same mature plants. Also, the flavor of micro greens are varied and unique for greens and can be more palatable than from a mature plant. It’s difficult for most people to properly eat their vegetables, so perhaps microgreens are another weapon in our fight for proper nutrition.

Microgreens aren’t only grown inside under lights but can be grown outside in soil, but different methods come with their own set of challenges and tradeoffs. That said, I will be building an area to grow microgreens outside while still in trays to test how well these can endure outside weather conditions and the pest pressure. This way, I can compare the same crops grown inside and see the differences in yield and profitability.

I never thought I would spend hours just shopping seed types and prices.

With micro greens, seed and its quality is especially important. Five years ago, when I first heard of microgreens, I was under the impression that it was a new phenomenon and that there were maybe 10 different kinds. However, the number has easily grown to over 25 types depending on how one counts it. Further, microgreens aren’t a new thing, just a trending thing. Microgreens have been grown in the United States for at least 40 years. I purchased about 20 different kinds to practice with, but I’m sure that number will be pared down to between five and eight after the trials. What I’ve gathered from listening to experienced growers is that there are generally a few kinds that make up the foundation of their business while the others have little impact in terms of sales, but are necessary to provide variety to their customers. I’m hoping to test that knowledge through my growing trials, taste tests and sales.

I had planned to have pictures of various trials to show the reader, but most of my seeds only just arrived, having come from Canada, and the shipment of the trays I ordered on which to grow the micro greens has been delayed. I managed to grow two trays of cabbage and have already learned a great deal about “black-out time” and the importance of maintaining proper moisture and weighing down the trays to ensure proper germination. It looks like this year will be especially fruitful.

Jacob Nessemar, 2019 FARM Intern
Bauernhof Kitsteiner, Bulls Gap, TN


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