Making $2000 A Week Growing Microgreens with Luke Callahan (PVP087)

“Your goal is to design a system that generates value.”Luke Callahan

 

Permaculture Voices Luke Callahan



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Key Takeaways:

  • Microgreens have a very fast start-up time.  From start to first sale is less than two weeks.
  • Low start-up capital.  Less than $1000 to get started.
  • Value add to any existing farm or non-farm business or run it as a stand alone business.
  • Trying to get chefs to buy $50 per week.
  • At farmers markets it may be easier to sell by volume versus weight.
  • Having a walk in freezer is a huge benefit for extending the life of your crops.
  • Relationships are the key.  Know every chef in town.
  • You don’t know what is going to work and what isn’t.  You may have assumptions, but be sure to test those.
  • If you aren’t turning 2 out of 10 customers away at the farmers market, then your prices are too low.
  • When in doubt, start pricing high.  You can always go down.
  • Try to increase your dollars per transaction.
  • The hardest transaction is the first transaction with a customer.
  • Focus on what makes money, what doesn’t.

Quotables:

  • “Approach every variable as a test.”
  • “Your goal is to design a system that generates value.”
  • “Make it as easy as possible for chefs to do business with you.”

Interested in growing microgreens profitably as a business?

Then check out microgreen grower Chris Thoreau’s online course


 

microgreens-course


Don’t have a lot of land?

Looking to make a living farming?

Microgreens might be a great place to start…

Microgreens are high value crop that can be growing intensively in a very small space with some crops selling upwards of $50 per pound.

It’s totally possible and it is being done everyday.

Microgreen grower Chris Thoreau generates over $200,000 per year in this space…


Microgreens - Fitting a lot of product into a small space.


Learn more about Chris’s online microgreen course


Or start with Luke’s book – The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens:


 

Cover-The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens


 Learn more about the book:  The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens


Getting Started with A Microgreens Business:

OK, you’re reading this because you’ve expressed a clear intention to build a highly profitable business.

We need to make sure that a microgreens business can thrive in your market.

It’s far better to do a bit of research now and determine that your business will succeed, than to invest the time, energy, and money,  only to find out later that there just aren’t enough customers for your microgreens.

Lots of businesses fail early on, and I’m here to make sure that you’re not one of them.


Now we’ll go through the steps to make sure you can succeed in your market.

I. Get to know your customers

II. Find the customers in your market

III. Do the math


Luke’s book will guide you through this process.


Microgreens-Table-of-Contents


Is a microgreens business right for you?

Growing microgreens certainly isn’t for everyone.

It is far better to be realistic at this point and say no to building this business than to force it and fail.

Let’s determine if this is a fit for you.

We need to determine two things:

#1 – If growing and selling microgreens can be profitable in your market.

#2- If you are the right fit to succeed at a microgreens business.


One big reason why this may NOT be good for you

You can’t commit the time and energy needed to start a business

Building a business isn’t for everyone, and that’s just fine.

Before you go on any further, take a minute now to ask yourself this question.

Am I willing to fully commit to building a sustainable business?

If you’re answer is anything less than a definitive “Yes!” this might not be a fit.  

However, if you are truly ready to commit to a path full of growth, challenges, and high reward for your efforts, then let’s get started together.


Microgreens Estimated Start-up Costs:

Here’s a quick breakdown of what it will cost to start your microgreens business.

(Most of these products can be found at your local hardware store. Costs are estimates.)

  • Growing Trays 100 @ $2.00 each – $200
  • Seeds – $400
  • Fluorescent Grow Lights 8 @ $20 each – $160
  • Soil – $50
  • Guide – $79
  • Farmers Market display- $100

Total – $989

Let’s call it an even $1000


Learn more about the book:  The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens


Connect with Luke Callahan:

The Complete Guide to Growing and Selling Microgreens

Local Business Plans

Seedwise

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SeedWise is a marketplace enabling seed farmers to sell directly to home gardeners, giving a greater level of choice to the customer and higher income to the farmer. Gardeners can find growers in their bio-region, selecting heirloom seeds or drought tolerant varieties of their favorite crops. Gardeners can plant with confidence, knowing exactly where their seeds were grown; the names and faces of those farmers, and the heritage of the breed.

Just like your local Farmer’s Market, SeedWise provides the chance to connect, learn and build resilience in communities across the country.


You can contact Luke via luke @ localbusinessplans.com


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Comments 19

  1. Simple question:

    Luke really seem knowledgeable on the subject and made me interested in getting in the business but I wonder why he stopped it after only a year and a half.

    1. Great question Hugo,

      The transition to sell Nightlight Farms to one of my employees was primarily because I was ready to work on a new project (SeedWise). I’ve discovered that I love to learn, and the time that I’m happiest, is when my “Rate of Learning” is highest. When I started with the microgreens, I knew next to nothing about them, and over the time, I’d say I got up to understanding 90-95% of the trade. Thus, my rate of learning was rapidly diminished, making me hungry for the next project to learn on.

      This quote sums up what I’ve learned from my experience with the microgreens, nicely:

      “If you want to learn, travel (start new projects often). If you want power, stay in one place (commit to long term projects).”

      I hope this helps Hugo.

      Luke

      1. Thanks for the answer, Luke.
        Knowing that Nightlight farms still exists and prospers is an important information to have. It makes me more confident to buy your book, which I’m about to do as soon as your buy now button works.

        1. You bet Hugo,

          That’s great that you want to get started with the microgreens. Make sure to do some good market research beforehand to determine if it can stand alone or would be better as an addition to a veggie farm operation.

          If you have any questions along the way, feel free to give me a call 415.705.9501 or email (luke @ seedwise.com)

          Also, thanks for the note on the buttons not working. I just got that sorted out.

          Cheers,

          Luke

  2. Hi Diego / Luke,

    Is there a part of the book that covers the “Do your market research” aspect? Probably a dumb question but it seems a crucial part of actually getting started for me. Don’t want to mess up the first step! =)

    1. Post
      Author

      There is a little bit of that in there indirectly I would say. I think the main think would be to scout out farmers markets in your area that you would potentially sell at. Are there people already selling there? Stop in at a bunch of restaurants in your area and ask them if they would have any demand for microgreens on a weekly basis.

    2. Great question Riley,

      Thorough market research is exactly where you want to start. To echo what Diego said, I’d look at it broadly like this.

      Step 1 – Understand your customers
      -Farmer’s Markets
      -Restaurants
      -Later, wholesale to distributors and groceries

      Step 2 – Understand the products you will be selling
      -Sunflower Shoots, Radish Shoots, Pea Shoots (sell for $1.50 – $3 /ounce)
      -Arugula, Broccoli, etc ($3/ounce)
      -Herbs – basil, cilantro, chervil, shiso, etc. (up to $10/ounce, sold by the clamshell)

      Step 3 – Factor in your expenses
      To keep things simple, we call it a 60% profit margin. If you earn $100k in a year, your profit will be $60k

      Step 4 – Do the math
      Determine how much you can earn from each customer
      Farmer’s Markets ($300/week) (can definitely be more)
      Restaurants – $50-100/week (can be more, but best to be conservative)

      Step 5 – Determine if this is a fit for you and your market based on your calculations

      If you have any questions, just reply to this thread and I’ll be happy to answer them.

      Hope this helps Riley,

      Luke

      1. That all really helps! You guys are AWESOME!

        Luke, I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing my name pop up again in the near future. I’m going to try this during the winter with restaurants and local stores to build some skills needed when farmers market season starts again.

        Thanks again!!

        Riley_P

  3. I loved this episode of the podcast and now I have planted some seeds in my house. I’d love to go into business doing this, but are there laws about selling food as a purveyor to restaurants. Like safe food handling … was there something you had to do to get registered or licensed to do so? Also, in the interview you said you didn’t know what microgreens were before you started. Had you gardened before? I’ve never gardened but I feel like I could try my hand at this. I have my permie design certificate.
    Thanks for the inspiration!
    Jenny

    1. Great questions Jenny,

      How are your seeds doing? In regards to the laws of selling food to your local restaurants, it’s often a case for the County inspections and licensing department. Every place is different. Sometimes they want to do a full inspection of your farm, other times they just want to have you registered with them and your insurance policy on file. Your best is to call the county and start a dialogue with them.

      And yeah, I had no idea what microgreens were before I started, and had never gardened! Although, the year before I grew a tomato plant on the windowsill of my apartment, so maybe that counts?

      I will say though, since then I have developed a strong affinity for plants. So be careful… it’s a slippery slope 🙂

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      Author
  4. Luke,
    After reading your book I noticed that there’s not a section in there about the best temperature and humidity to grow microgreens.

  5. what are the fda regulations on microgreens as i’m currently growing alfalfa sprouts for a living but fed up with all the new regulations being enforced. i’ve been growing sprouts on my own since 1979 but am getting scared and tired of being put out of business because of how fda views sprouts as being bad. thanks for any info you might have.

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      Author

      Sprouts are definitely in a different category than microgreens which is why a lot of growers don’t grow sprouts. But I have heard that some inspectors will view microgreens as sprouts. It is jurisdiction specific, managed at a state and local level. I am assuming federal regulations don’t come into play unless you are selling outside of your state.

    1. Post
      Author

      Since most microgreens are grown in controlled culture, geographic location isn’t a factor. IF you were growing them outside, then there would be a learn curve to adapt to your biome.

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