Regulations For Selling Microgreens In Delaware
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Selling Microgreens in Delaware: A Comprehensive Guide

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Microgreens are a fast-growing market across the United States, including in Delaware. As more people become aware of the health and nutritional benefits of these young vegetable greens, demand continues to increase. Selling microgreens can be a profitable endeavor for farmers, gardeners, and entrepreneurs in Delaware interested in starting a small business. This comprehensive guide covers key considerations for successfully selling microgreens in Delaware.

Approved Places To Sell Microgreens In Delaware

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are edible greens harvested when the plant is in its early seedling stage, generally 1-3 weeks after germination. They are more nutritionally dense than their mature counterparts, containing higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Common microgreen varieties include arugula, kale, cabbage, broccoli, basil, cilantro, beets, sunflower greens, pea shoots, and radish microgreens. Their concentrated flavor makes them a chef’s favorite to use as garnishes, in salads, soups, sandwiches, and more.

Microgreens are typically grown in high density on trays or flats indoors. They are grown in soil or soilless media, harvested with scissors when the cotyledons are fully formed, and sold with the stem and leaves intact. The small size and quick harvest cycle of microgreens allow for year-round local production.

Market Opportunity in Delaware

The microgreens market has grown steadily over the past decade, with no signs of slowing down. As Delaware consumers become more health conscious and seek out nutritious, fresh, local foods, they are turning to microgreens as an option. Chefs also use microgreens to add flavor, texture, color, and nutrition to their dishes.

Delaware has a vibrant local food scene, with farmers markets, farm stands, CSAs, chefs, and restaurants all potential buyers of locally grown microgreens. The state’s small size also makes it easier to access and directly serve key markets. Selling to nearby metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. is also an option to expand your customer base.

Both wholesaling to stores, restaurants, and institutions as well as direct-to-consumer sales present lucrative opportunities in Delaware’s microgreens marketplace.

Best Microgreens To Grow To Sell In Delaware

Regulations and Licensing Requirements

Delaware has specific regulations and licensing requirements for selling specialty crops like microgreens. Selling any processed or prepared food products also involves oversight by the Department of Health and Social Services. Key licenses and regulations include:

Always check with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Social Services to ensure you meet any updated regulations or requirements before selling microgreens.

  • Delaware has specific cottage food laws that allow limited sales of certain homemade goods. Microgreens qualify under these laws, which restrict sales to $40,000 annually.
  • Microgreens can only be sold directly to consumers at farmer’s markets, farm stands, and online in Delaware. Wholesale sales are not permitted.
  • A home kitchen inspection, food safety training, and permitting through the Department of Agriculture are required. Kitchens must meet requirements like a commercial sink, dedicated storage, and no pets.
  • Microgreens must be labeled with name/address, ingredients, and net weight, and made in a home kitchen statement. Packaging must be food-grade.

Suitable Varieties for Delaware’s Climate

Choosing microgreen varieties suited to Delaware’s climate will ensure success. Focus on greens that perform well in the mid-Atlantic region and during the hot, humid summers. Some top microgreens for our state include:

  • Broccoli: High yields and tolerates heat well.
  • Kale: Very hardy with high nutrient levels. Red Russian is an excellent variety.
  • Beets: Colorful stems and tender leaves. Bull’s Blood is a standout purple variety.
  • Arugula: Fast-growing with a peppery bite.
  • Radish: Quick to harvest with a spicy kick. Offers color variety.
  • Sunflower: Nutty flavor and pretty green sprouts.
  • Pea shoots: Sweet taste and texture.
  • Asian greens like tatsoi, mizuna, and komatsuna: Tolerate summer heat.
  • Basil: Popular for pesto. Try Genovese or Thai.
  • Cilantro: Essential for Mexican cuisine. Slow to bolt.
  • Celery: Wonderful aromatic flavor.

Experiment with various microgreens to determine which sell best and are easiest to grow in your setup. Offering a diverse mix of colors, flavors, and textures will appeal to chefs and consumers.

Table 1: Microgreens Varieties Suited for Delaware’s Climate

VarietyGermination TimeLight NeedsTemperature RangeHeight at MaturityGrowth RateBolt Resistance
Arugula2-3 daysModerate45-75°F1-3 inchesVery FastLow
Basil3-5 daysHigh65-85°F1-2 inchesModerateLow
Beets2-3 daysLow50-70°F1-3 inchesFastModerate
Broccoli3-4 daysModerate45-75°F3-4 inchesFastHigh
Cabbage3-4 daysModerate45-75°F3-4 inchesModerateHigh
Carrots7-10 daysModerate50-75°F2-3 inchesSlowHigh
Chard2-3 daysModerate50-75°F2-4 inchesModerateLow
Delaware Microgreen Farming Equipment

Production Methods

Growing delicious, high-quality microgreens starts with using the right production methods. Here are key considerations for microgreens production in Delaware:


An indoor production space that provides climate control, irrigation, and protection from pests is ideal. Greenhouses, hoop houses, or retrofitted sheds outfitted to create the proper environment work well. Make sure to have access to plentiful water and electricity.


Basic equipment needs include microgreen trays and flats, a quality LED grow light system, fans, timers, a misting system, and shelving units or tables. Food-grade harvest containers and scissors along with a refrigerated storage area are also necessities.


Buy microgreen seeds from reputable suppliers like True Leaf Market to ensure high germination rates, proper seeding density, and variety purity. Test different seed varieties to find ones suited to your system.


Microgreens need consistent moisture, especially when seeding and during germination. Overhead misting systems, flood tables, or good old-fashioned hand watering are options.


LED grow lights should provide adequate intensity and color spectrum for quick, even microgreen growth. Position lights 12-18 inches above trays. Time lights at 12-16 hours per day.

Trays and Growing Media

Use shallow trays 1-3 inches deep specifically made for microgreens. growing media options include soil, soilless mixes, coconut coir, vermiculite, paper towels, and more. Test different types to determine which works best for your varieties and system.

Temperature & Humidity

Ideal growing conditions are 60-75°F and a steady relative humidity around 60-70%. Good air circulation from fans is crucial.

Cleaning & Sanitation

Follow strict cleaning and sanitation protocols between each microgreen crop to prevent disease. Disinfect trays, rinse growing media, and thoroughly clean surfaces, tools, and equipment.

Proper growing conditions, attention to detail, and implementation of food safety practices will produce clean, thriving microgreens. Consider running small test batches as you refine your system.

Distributing Microgreens To Grocery Stores In Delaware

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling

To maintain quality and shelf-life, microgreens must be harvested and handled properly. Follow these microgreen harvesting and handling tips:

  • Harvest in the early morning when cool and turgid.
  • Cut just above the growing media with sanitized microgreen scissors.
  • Gently rinse harvested greens in cool, chlorinated water if needed. Drain thoroughly.
  • Place greens in food-grade harvest bins or containers. Do not pack tightly.
  • Sort greens by cutting off any yellow, damaged leaves or stems. Discard any moldy product.
  • Store microgreens in a walk-in cooler or refrigerator at 32-35°F and 95%+ relative humidity.
  • Package microgreens in vented clamshells, boxes, or bags to allow airflow.
  • Label packages with variety and pack date. Use traceability coding.
  • Limit storage time to 1-2 weeks maximum. Monitor quality and discard if any decay occurs.

Proper post-harvest handling will maximize microgreen quality and longevity for sales. Quick chilling, delicate handling, and avoiding moisture loss are keys for microgreens.

Food Safety and Sanitation

Ensuring food safety is a critical part of any commercial microgreens operation. Pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella can contaminate seeds, growing media, and greens if poor practices are followed. Here are proactive steps growers in Delaware can take to enhance food safety:

  • Complete Produce Safety Alliance grower training.
  • Only use potable water for irrigation, mixing growing media, and post-harvest washing.
  • Test growing media and rinse water for foodborne pathogens.
  • Source seeds from suppliers with stringent sanitation standards.
  • Keep animals and pests out of the growing and storage areas.
  • Follow strict sanitation protocols when handling microgreens.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces, trays, containers, tools, and equipment thoroughly between crops.
  • Monitor temperatures in the storage and cooler areas.
  • Develop a food safety plan and standard operating procedures.
  • Keep detailed records to enable traceability.

Making food safety a priority ensures customers receive a healthy, contamination-free product. Having strict protocols in place also reduces liability risks. Consider third-party audits like Harmonized GAP or GroupGAP to verify your processes.

Online Sales Platforms For Delaware Microgreens

Pricing and Profit Potential

Carefully calculating production costs and determining pricing is important for profitability. Factors like labor, supplies, overhead, and distribution must be considered. The pricing sweet spot is what the market will bear while still generating sufficient margin.

Wholesale prices for 1-pound microgreen clamshells average around $12-25 depending on the variety. Radish, sunflower, and peas tend to be on the lower end around $12-18 while arugula, sorrel, and basil command higher premiums.

Retail pricing to consumers typically doubles the wholesale price. Direct market prices for microgreens at farmer’s markets usually range from $20-40 per pound. Offering mixed microgreen medleys can boost profits.

Adequate margins are needed to account for lower yields, higher labor, and production costs compared to full-size greens. Efficiencies in production and distribution will improve microgreen profit over time.

Table 2: Estimated Microgreen Pricing for Direct and Wholesale Sales in Delaware

VarietyEst. Production Cost per lbDirect Retail Price per lbWholesale Price per lbRetail Profit MarginWholesale Profit Margin
Pea Shoots$7$30$1877%61%

Distribution and Marketing

Once you grow top-notch microgreens, you need customers to buy them. Distribution and smart marketing are key for microgreen producers to succeed in Delaware. Ways to profitably sell microgreens include:

  • Sell to restaurants, food service, and institutions: Chefs are your best customers, using microgreens to garnish dishes and enhance flavor. Pitch to high-end establishments first to establish your reputation. Expand to universities, corporate cafeterias, hospitals, and other large-scale food service operations.
  • Partner with grocers and wholesalers: Contact produce managers at supermarkets, cooperative grocers, small health food stores, and distributors about carrying your microgreens. Emphasize their local appeal, freshness, and nutrition. Offer wholesale case discounts for volume purchases.
  • Farmers markets: Excellent for testing marketing varieties and interacting directly with consumers. Build loyalty through weekly customers. Cross-sell other products.
  • Farm stand or CSA: Combining microgreens with standard produce in your retail stand or CSA boxes exposes more customers to their taste and quality.
  • Online sales: Selling online via your website, social media, or online farmers market platforms like Barn2Door provides sales opportunities beyond your local area.
  • Culinary and agritourism events: Getting chefs to feature microgreens on demo menus markets them to consumers. Hosting microgreen farm tours and tastings educates the public.

Be aware of local zoning laws and neighborhood covenants when operating your microgreens business from home. Only sell at approved venues. A diversified approach to sales and marketing microgreens helps spread risk and increase profits. Take advantage of all demand channels available in Delaware.

Table 3: Microgreen Sales Outlets and Marketing Strategies in Delaware

OutletHighlightsMarketing StrategiesConsiderations
RestaurantsHigh volume, premium pricingSamples, demos, promote uniquenessNeeds and menu changes fluctuate
Grocery StoresNew customer exposure, larger ordersPartner with produce buyer, offer promotionsLower margins, wholesale pricing
Farmers MarketsDirect sales, regular customersDisplays, samples, promotionsSeasonal changes, weather risks
Farm Stand/CSALeverage existing customersBundles, promotions, recipesRequires add-on cooling room
Online SalesExpands reach, schedule flexibilitySEO, social media, promotionsShipping logistics, managing online orders

Resources for Delaware Microgreen Growers

Successfully growing and selling microgreens commercially involves research, planning, investment, and execution. Thankfully, Delaware has resources available to help:

Don’t hesitate to utilize Delaware’s public, private, and non-profit sectors for help with any aspect of your microgreens venture, from business planning to production methods.

Delaware Microgreens Food Safety Practices

Final Thoughts

The market opportunities for selling microgreens in Delaware look bright, especially as consumer demand and wholesale buyer interest continue expanding. 

  • Always obtain the necessary licensing and permits for your microgreens business through the Department of Agriculture.
  • Consult the Division of Revenue about business taxes, sales tax collection, and reporting requirements related to your microgreen sales.
  • Consider liability insurance to protect your new venture. Work closely within Delaware’s cottage food laws and sales limits.

Producers who use suitable varieties, implement efficient production systems, follow food safety protocols, and connect with the right buyers through marketing have a chance at success. While intensive to grow, microgreens offer higher margins and quicker returns than traditional crops for those committed to quality. We hope this comprehensive guide provides useful information and insight into selling microgreens in Delaware. Let us know if you have any other questions!

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Selling Microgreens in Delaware

The number one agricultural crop in Delaware is soybeans. Other top crops include corn, wheat, lima beans, and barley. Microgreens offer a niche specialty crop opportunity compared to Delaware’s staple commodity crops.

Yes, Delaware provides ideal conditions for many types of agriculture. The microclimate and coastal plain soils combined with access to urban east coast markets make Delaware excellent for producing crops like microgreens, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, hemp, and more.

In addition to major row crops like soybeans, corn, and wheat, Delaware provides a diversity of agricultural goods including:

  • Produce like lima beans, peas, spinach, cabbage, squash, cucumbers, peppers, melons, apples, peaches, and strawberries
  • Poultry and eggs
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese
  • Pork, beef, lamb, and goats
  • Nursery crops, sod, greenhouse products
  • Specialty crops like microgreens, mushrooms, honey, maple syrup

Yes, Delaware has over 2,500 farms operating on over 500,000 acres of farmland. The average farm size is 205 acres. Most are family farms, with 88% being small farms under 179 acres. There is room for smaller niche farms like microgreen producers to succeed.

The top three agricultural products in Delaware are:

  1. Soybeans
  2. Corn
  3. Chicken (broilers)

The top 5 agricultural commodities in Delaware are:

  1. Soybeans
  2. Corn
  3. Chicken (broilers)
  4. Dairy Products
  5. Wheat

Microgreens offer a locally-grown alternative to these conventional commodities, fitting consumer demand for fresh, nutritious produce.

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