Tips and Tricks for Growing, Harvesting, and Selling Microgreens as a Business with Chris Thoreau – Episode 2

Chris Thoreau Permaculture Voices


“They weren’t just buying the product; they were buying the whole package.”

That’s how Chris Thoreau was able to go to a farmer’s market selling one crop. Just one. Sunflower shoots. He was able to go to market with just one crop because he was selling a product that had a great story.

It was a product that was produced hyper-locally and one that was delivered to market via pedal power on a bike.

Since Chris started his microgreen business nearly 10 years ago he has grown the business into one that has multiple employees and one that will do over $200,000 in sales in 2016.

If you want grow microgreens commercially, listen to today’s episode. You’ll see how important it is to systematize your production and constantly record and analyze your results.

It’s the constant testing, analyze and adaptation that has made Chris’ business hugely successful.

I think that you will really get a lot out of this interview.

You’ll learn how Chris introduced a brand new crop to his market. How he priced that product.

And how and why he thinks about new products to sell.

There’s a lot of in depth applicable business content in here for the experienced growers. And for the beginners you will learn what Chris suggests for some good crops to grow

There’s a lot in this one and at it’s core this interview focuses heavily on core success principles – relentless testing and experimentation, constant record keeping and analysis, and knowing what to focus on.

Notes from the interview with Chris Thoreau

  • Chris’ main crops: sunflower, pea, radish, buckwheat.
  • Started and went to his first market with a single crop – sun flower shoots.
  • How he introduced a new crop to the market?
    • Had as much on display as he could.
    • Focused on providing a high quality produce at a fair price.
    • Highlighted the product and the context of the product.
      • “They weren’t just buying the product, they were buying the whole package.”
  • Pricing means finding the sweet spot between what customers will pay and what you need to make money.
    • Over time Chris has played around with pricing by changing the quantity of sprouts in each bag but keeping the pricing the same, effectively raising the price.
  • How and when he decided to bring a new product to market?
    • Was the market familiar with product?  They had to at least be somewhat familiar with it.c
    • Could the product produce well in their system.
    • What can they grow in their system, what does their customer base want, and will it be viable from a business standpoint?  If it met those three, then it was a go to experiment with.
  • Chris has focused and has optimized his system to grow one crop – sunflower shoots.  Everything else is based around that system.
  • Experiments a lot with new crops, yet he has a good sense of what will work in his system and with his market.
  • Does a lot of experimentation with seeding density – changes density with almost every new batch of sunflower seed.
  • What crops are good beginner crops for microgreens?

    • Radish
    • Sunflower

“If in year five you are still working seventy hour weeks, and you’re not sure you are going to make it, then your model doesn’t work. You should be seeing improvements, or you just aren’t very good.”Chris Thoreau

How Chris Thoreau Started, Build, and Grew a Thriving Microgreens Business – Episode 1

About Chris Thoreau

Chris Thoreau has been engaged in urban food production since 2001 as a farmer, educator, community organizer, and advocate.  Chris now is one of the farmer owners of the Vancouver Food Pedaler’s Cooperative.

Since 2008 Chris has been based in Vancouver, BC where he attended the University of British Columbia’s Agroecology program. He received his BSc. (Hons) in 2011 after focusing his studies on urban farming, soil management, and small-scale plant breeding.

Prior to his time in Vancouver Chris operated a certified organic farm in Victoria, BC for six years. While in Victoria he also served on the local certifying body’s (Islands Organic Producers Association) Board of Directors and Certification Committee for two years.  

When he isn’t obsessing over seeds, soil, and harvests Chris spends most of his time with his four-year-old son doing everything from soccer to skating, running to wall climbing, and reading to wrestling!

Curtis Stone interviews Chris Thoreau at his Vancouver microgreen farm

Interested in growing microgreens profitably as a business?

Then check out microgreen grower Chris Thoreau’s online 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

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