Selling Microgreens in Florida
Microgreens are an up-and-coming crop that is gaining popularity among farmers, restaurants, and health-conscious consumers in Florida. As interest and demand continue to grow, selling microgreens presents a lucrative business opportunity for small-scale farmers in the state. This comprehensive guide covers key considerations for successfully selling microgreens in Florida’s thriving agricultural marketplace.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are tiny, young vegetable greens that are harvested soon after sprouting, typically 1-3 weeks after germination. They are more developed than sprouts but smaller and more tender than baby greens. Common microgreen varieties include kale, cabbage, arugula, beets, Swiss chard, broccoli, mustard, radish, amaranth, and many others.
Microgreens have an intense, concentrated flavor and are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Research shows microgreens can contain 4-40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. Their vibrant colors and delicate crunch also make them popular ingredients for embellishing salads, sandwiches, soups, and other dishes in upscale restaurants.
Table 1. Microgreens Nutrient Levels Compared to Mature Varieties
|Microgreen Variety||Nutrient||Level Compared to Mature Version|
|Red Cabbage||Vitamin C||6 times higher|
|Kale||Vitamin K||4 times higher|
|Broccoli||Vitamin C||3 times higher|
|Garlic||Allicin||2 times higher|
|Beets||Iron||3 times higher|
|Sunflower||Vitamin E||5 times higher|
*Data compiled across multiple university microgreens nutrition studies.
Why Sell Microgreens in Florida?
Florida’s subtropical climate enables year-round cultivation of high-value specialty crops like microgreens. The state already leads the domestic production of fresh fruits and vegetables, with an industry valued at over $8 billion annually. As the local food movement grows, more Florida consumers want to buy fresh, locally-grown produce.
Selling microgreens allows small-acreage farmers to maximize profits from space-efficient indoor systems or small plots. Restaurant chefs seek microgreens to create colorful, nutritious dishes that delight patrons. Florida also has a strong network of farmers markets, produce distributors, and food cooperatives that offer direct-to-consumer sales channels.
Positioned alongside mature greens production and Florida’s booming $67 billion tourism industry focused on upscale resorts and restaurants, microgreens present a scalable business opportunity to serve evolving consumer palates and the state’s thriving food service sector.
Developing a Business Plan
Careful planning is vital when starting a specialty crop microgreens business. Important elements to include in your business plan:
- Cost analysis: Account for startup and operating expenses like equipment, seeds, labor, certification fees, testing fees, insurance, marketing, and distribution.
- Pricing models: Factor in costs and compare to current microgreens pricing in your region. Most Florida microgreens sell wholesale for $30-50 per pound.
- Profit margins: Target at least a 30% profit margin as a microgreens business owner.
- Sales forecasts: Be conservative when projecting sales, then strive to exceed targets through marketing.
- Growing systems: evaluate costs, yields, and preferences for soil-based beds, hydroponics/aeroponics, vertical systems, grow trays/flats, or greenhouses. Recommend testing small before scaling up.
- Space requirements: allow 32-128 sq ft per production unit as a guideline. Vertical systems optimize limited spaces.
- Crop selection: choose the 3-5 most profitable microgreens suited to your system based on reliable germination, growth rate, shelf life after harvest, and buyer preferences in your region.
- Seeds: heirloom non-GMO seeds are recommended. Buy from reputable suppliers providing excellent germination rates.
- Planting schedule: stagger small, frequent seedings for consistent harvests to meet buyer demand. Keep detailed records.
- Yields: expect 0.5-1 lb per tray, 128+ lbs annually in 10 sq ft. Precision spacing, lighting, and nutrients maximize density.
- Customer segments: restaurants, resorts, grocers, co-ops, distributors, and farmers markets offer sales opportunities. Meet buyers before planting to agree on varieties, volumes, and specifications.
- Direct-to-consumer options: Include farmer’s markets, community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, online sales, or independent retail. These fetch higher prices but require more time, relationships, and marketing.
- Distribution channels: Upon establishing buyers and order volumes, identify mutually agreeable transport, delivery windows, packaging, and labeling protocols.
Certifications and Regulations
- Food safety: Follow GAP protocols even if exempt from licensing under Florida Cottage Food law. Consider food safety training to reassure wholesale buyers.
- Cottage food laws: Florida microgreens growers do not require special permitting for direct sales capped at $50k gross annual revenue but labeling and food handling guidelines apply.
- Organic certification (USDA or Certified Naturally Grown) boosts perceived value, especially for direct sales but adds costs – weigh tradeoffs.
- Business registration: Obtain a FEIN, and complete state or county business licensing depending on projected sales volumes.
Selecting Suitable Growing Systems
Choosing an appropriate growing system is essential for operational efficiency and profitability when selling microgreens commercially. You want adequate controlled growing space to meet buyer demand reliably year-round.
Consider investing in a basic greenhouse or polytunnel in Florida to mitigate temperature swings, humidity, and heavy rains. Most microgreens grow well at 60-75°F and 40-65% relative humidity. Some small space heating and dehumidification may further optimize growing conditions during Florida’s winter months.
While starting on a small scale, use the growth cycle to continually test and improve your production system before expanding. Monitor key metrics like seeding rates, germination times, harvest yields, and shelf life indicators to make data-driven decisions.
Here is an overview of common microgreen growing system options in Florida:
Soil-Based Beds – Simple and low startup costs make in-ground or raised beds a popular starting point for new microgreens growers in Florida. Key advantages include natural buffering capacity to prevent overfertilizing and familiarity among most growers.
Downsides can be managing consistent moisture levels through Florida’s rainy season, intensive labor requirements for harvesting/processing, and heightened disease/pest pressures compared to indoor systems.
Expect yields of around 1 pound per 4 square feet per week with meticulous growing protocols. This scales easily on acreage for larger producers.
Hydroponics & Aeroponics – Complete environmental control over nutrients, moisture, and air exposure allows rapid, high-density production but involves higher startup investments and operational expenses compared to soil systems.
Automated hydroponic systems continuously flow nutrient solutions across bare roots. Aeroponics mists plant roots suspended in the air. Both maximize growth rates and yields in limited footprints but have steeper learning curves to master the technology compared to soil-based systems.
Target 1+ pound per 2 square feet weekly yields. More complex recirculating systems with supplemental lighting may achieve over 3 pounds per square foot weekly operated by skilled growers.
Vertical Systems – Offer 10-20X higher yields than horizontal production areas by stacking growing trays or columns aligned with supplemental grow lights. Automated vertical farms are popping up across Florida to meet urban consumer demand.
An 8-10 tier vertical microgreens system under LED lighting can produce 700+ pounds annually in just 160 square feet. These highly efficient designs allow year-round production almost anywhere, though energy costs require large production scales for profitability.
DIY options like stacking wire shelves in a spare room work well for small microgreens growers on starter budgets.
Grow Trays & Flats – The simplest and most versatile option for starting out. Flood trays 12-28 inches deep with drainage holes using soilless media like coconut coir, peat, perlite, or vermiculite blends. Adding compost boosts nutrients. Popular configurations are 10”x20” or 20”x20” trays.
Use two sets of trays – one group to germinate seeds and another set under grow lights or sunlight for greening before harvest. Trays offer flexibility to test many varieties efficiently. Expect roughly 0.25 to 1 pound per tray. Stack trays vertically to multiply yields in given footprints.
Choosing suitable seeds is critical to profitability when selling microgreens commercially. Seek non-GMO, heirloom seeds with excellent germination rates above 90%, ideally from local or regional suppliers. Test different varieties for productivity and flavor in your growing environment before buying bulk.
Key seed selection criteria:
- Pricing – compare $/lb or $/1000 seed prices across varieties and suppliers. Buy affordable seeds in bulk later to maximize net profit. Sourcing locally reduces shipping costs.
- Germination Rates – consistently above 90% germination ensures dense, even stands for efficient harvests.
- Flavor – exceptional flavor earns repeat sales. Taste-test seeds from various suppliers and share samples with prospective buyers to evaluate palatability and uniqueness.
- Productivity – Faster-growing cotyledon to first true leaf helps your cash flow with quicker harvest turnaround. But consider staggered planting cycles.
- Pest & Disease Resistance – Some varieties tolerate Florida’s humidity better than others and resist fungal/bacterial issues. Prioritize these.
- Shelf Life – How long harvested microgreens retain vibrant color and structural integrity is vital for profitability and food safety in commercial production.
When sourcing microgreen seeds, buy from reputable suppliers who specially package for microgreen production to maximize value per area planted. Request samples before committing to untested large orders.
Florida Cottage Food Laws and Regulations
In Florida, microgreens fall under cottage food production laws allowing limited sales direct to consumers from home kitchens or farms without needing permits or inspections. This exemption lowers barriers to entry for selling specialized crops.
Key regulations to follow under Florida cottage food laws when selling microgreens:
- Registration – No registration, licensing, or permitting is required for microgreens cottage food production. No routine health inspections.
- Allowed Sales Venues – Sell raw microgreens directly to consumers from home or at farmer’s markets, farm stands, and other direct-to-consumer venues. No wholesale permitted.
- Online Sales – No sales through websites, mail orders, or delivering outside the local region allowed under cottage laws. But social media raises awareness.
- Gross Annual Revenue – Capped at $50,000 gross sales per calendar year from a domestic home kitchen. If exceeding, full permitting and inspections apply.
- Labeling – All microgreens must be pre-packaged in food-safe containers with proper labels before sales occur. Details next.
Failure to comply risks significant fines or certification revocation if violations occur. Verify you meet all requirements during planning stages and maintain compliance as annual revenues grow.
Florida requires all cottage foods like microgreens sold directly to consumers to be properly pre-packaged and labeled prior to sales. Mandatory labeling guidelines include:
Label Display Requirements
All labels must be:
- Clearly printed – in English with a common font no smaller than a 10-point type size
- Prominently placed – on the front or main display panel of packages
- Easily readable – with uniform spacing and contrasting background colors
Mandatory Label Content
The following details must be printed on labels:
- The name and physical address of the microgreens cottage food operation
- The name of the food product – “Microgreens” and a specific variety
- A list of all ingredients and any possible allergen exposures
- The net weight listed in both standard (ounces or pounds) and metric units (grams)
- This exact statement: “Made in a cottage food operation that is not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations.”
Failure to meet any packaging or labeling guidelines risks enforcement actions, large fines per violation, and sales prohibitions until resolved. Mark the date of finished goods production on the label or container to track product freshness and source any safety issues.
Now that key legal requirements have been covered, the following sections provide further tips and recommendations for actually planning, planting, harvesting, and selling microgreens profitably from farms or home kitchens in Florida.
Table 2. Florida Microgreens Labeling Requirements Summary
|Location||Front display panel, clearly printed|
|Operation Address||Production site street address|
|Food Identity||“Microgreens” plus variety names|
|Ingredients Listing||All ingredients & allergen exposures|
|Net Weight||Ounces/pounds AND grams|
|Domestic Kitchen Disclaimer||“Made in cottage food operation not subject to Florida’s food safety regulations”|
|Production Date||Date finished goods produced|
Developing Microgreens Varieties Portfolio
Carefully selecting which microgreen varieties to grow and sell plays an important role in profitability through efficiently using limited space and tailoring offerings to target buyer preferences in your region. Monitor best-sellers and flagging varieties over time to adjust crop plans seasonally. Track all metrics.
When assessing various microgreens to grow, consider:
- Shelf life – Slow post-harvest yellowing rates fetch higher market values
- Flavor – Exceptional taste drives repeat sales
- Yield per area – Dense spacing in trays maximizes productivity
- Days to harvest – Faster turnover liberates production space
- Market prices – More desirable greens sell at premium prices
- Production costs – Account for seed, labor, and overhead
To start, select 2-4 microgreen varieties to focus on as your core offerings based on the above criteria. Be wary of over-diversifying initially across too many low-volume niche varieties compared to demand – identify the most profitable microgreens you can grow successfully first.
The most commonly grown and top-selling microgreen varieties in Florida emerging from specialty crop reports and expert recommendations include:
- Arugula: Extremely nutritious and delivers a pleasant, peppery zing. Both traditional soil-grown and hydroponic production earn premium wholesale pricing. Thrives in cool conditions making winter production ideal and commands attention from high-end restaurants for gourmet salads and small plates. A hint of spice is also well-received for consumer sales.
- Broccoli: Mild yet satisfying flavor profile resembling its mature vegetable counterpart but more tender texture. Bright green florets present beautifully for upscale culinary uses and consumer-packaged offerings. Slightly slower germination around 5+ days means higher profit potential from extended growing cycles but still relatively quick returns. Appreciates low temperatures below 70°F.
- Beets: Gorgeous red stems and cotyledons contrast against dark green leaves for stellar aesthetics improving dishes’ eye appeal. Their inherent sweetness also makes them widely appealing to consumers when sampled at farmer’s markets. Beets germinate reliably within 24-48 hours after seeding then size up quickly for harvests around 7 days later. This rapid turnover liberates production space for other varieties.
- Kale: The darling of nutrition circles in recent years makes dark-leaf kale microgreens a market favorite. Customers want their powerful antioxidants and vitamins. Curly leaf varieties have beautiful textures. Ease of propagation and versatility of uses check all the boxes for inclusion in microgreens crop plans targeting Florida buyers. Expect strong demand all year round.
- Radishes: A steady seller across Florida highlighted for its rapid growth and appealing spice adding color and crunch to salads or as garnish. Their relatively short 3-5 day crop cycles enable frequent successions for high volume throughput from the same infrastructure footprint compared to slower-growing greens. Daikon and crimson red varieties fetch slightly higher prices.
For subsequent production cycles, test other microgreen varieties based on sourced buyer feedback, equipment capabilities, optimal seasons matching Florida’s growing conditions, and other differentiating factors that set your product lineup apart.
Seeding Best Practices
Germinating large volumes of microgreen seeds efficiently is fundamental for commercial profitability. Follow these microgreen seeding best practices for consistent stands:
Dense spacing quickly blankets trays to choke out weeds without overcrowding. This prevents wasted areas but keeps airflow sufficient to deter fungal issues from excessive moisture while maximizing productivity per square foot.
As a starting guideline when sowing seeds for microgreens trays or beds:
- Larger seeds like beet, pea, corn, sunflowers space 1” apart
- Small seeds such as amaranth, cabbage, broccoli, and kale space 1⁄2” apart
- Tiny seeds including chia, alfalfa, celery, and cress space 1⁄4” apart
Then observe germination rates and adjust density accordingly for future successions, erring on the side of slightly more sparse distribution.
Prevent fungal outbreaks, damping off and poor germination by sterilizing seeds with diluted bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar solution prior to sowing, then rinsing seeds extremely thoroughly afterward.
Mix any sanitizer at a 0.5-1% concentration. Soak seeds 2-5 minutes, not exceeding 10 minutes maximum for sensitive crops. Rinse 3+ times fully immersing seeds in clean water before drying and sowing within 24 hours.
Enhances germination uniformity and timeliness, particularly for challenging small seeds prone to erratic sprouting like celery, leeks, chard, and cilantro. Methods include:
- Warm water soaks – 85°F for 4-6 hours
- Cold stratification – Refrigerating seeds 1-4 weeks moistened in peat or sand
- Osmopriming – Submerging seeds in an osmotic solution like salt water or polyethylene glycol
Test effects of various priming methods over 3+ succession rounds recording days to 75% germination and uniformity.
Moisture management is crucial through Florida’s seasonal rains and winter dry spells when selling microgreens commercially. Here are irrigation best practices for healthy crops:
Germination to Emergence
- Use an automated overhead mister system or hand sprayer for 5 seconds every 30-60 minutes from seeding until 50%+ emergence.
- Or cover seeded trays with a humidity dome, ventilated plastic sheets, or floating row covers misted twice daily.
- Pull back any weather shields and switch primary irrigation to sub-surface micro-sprayers, flood tubes with trays, or under-tray collection pitchers to avoid leaf wetness and limit aerial disease transmission.
- Replace evaporated moisture only – avoid saturated media prone to fungal & bacterial issues.
- Acclimate newly emerged plants slowly to field conditions for improved resilience if previously grown under protected or controlled environments. Sudden exposure risks damages like scalding if transitioned too abruptly into full sun or windy locations.
- Inject precision fertigation rather than foliar-feeding delicate seedlings. Ensure diluted mixes within brewing specifications and constantly monitor pH/EC activities.
- When Ph fluctuates wildly causing lockouts, drench trays with clean water to reset root zones, then resume corrected nutrition programs.
- Prevent saturated media through Florida’s seasonal rains. Allow soils to partially dry between irrigations for healthy oxygenation.
- Treat preventatively with approved OMRI-certified organic fungicides after the emergence if past disease issues. Apply sparingly early mornings or evenings.
Timing the harvest window precisely optimizes flavor, appearance, and nutritional quality. Most microgreens reach the prime harvest stage 18-28 days after germination when the first true leaves emerge.
Here are key tips for harvesting microgreens:
- Crop Indicators: Harvest when the first real leaves expand to about 2 inches tall. Growth slows after this four-leaf stage.
- Time of Day: Pick in the early morning after dew evaporates to boost shelf life. Avoid mid-day heat.
- Cutting Implements: Use clean, sharp scissors or snips for harvesting. Rinse implements between varieties to prevent cross-contamination.
- Proper Handling: Gently grasp stems to avoid crushing leaves. Never pile harvested microgreens – lightly stack labeled containers.
- Post-Harvest Care: Rapidly pre-cool greens to 34-40°F to preserve nutrition, texture, and shelf life for sales. Discard any excess moisture or condensation from transport containers prior to storage.
- Quality Inspections: Conduct ongoing visual checks and taste tests to ensure excellent eating quality handed off to buyers. Discuss feedback openly.
- Yield Maximization: Meticulous plant spacing, consistent moisture, moderate fertility, and lighting ultimately drive productivity per square foot. Record all crop data.
With heathy growing habits maintained from seed to harvest, dense microgreen flats can yield around 5 pounds per 10 square feet or higher for select varieties. This production potential is why microgreens present a scalable business model on limited land in Florida.
Food Safety Considerations
Following proactive food safety protocols protects consumers and brand reputations even for producers otherwise exempt from state licensing or inspections under cottage laws.
Safeguard against Listeria, E. Coli, Salmonella. Key actions include:
- Test agricultural water sources
- Only use sterilized seeds from reputable suppliers
- Ensure employee health and hygiene
- Clean/sanitize all touch surfaces and tools before use
- Rapidly chill harvested microgreens
- Monitor all temperature logs
Dedicate growing space apart from domestic living areas. Prevent foreign matter from entering production lines. Recommendations:
- No pets allowed in facilities
- Prevent pest infestations
- Install hand/boot wash stations
- Design smooth, non-porous equipment for easy cleaning
Maintaining detailed records is not the most glamorous business task but essential for commercial success in selling specialty crops like microgreens in Florida’s emerging local food marketplace.
Tracking key metrics allows data-driven decisions to optimize resource efficiency for profitability over time. Plus readily accessible food safety documentation protects public health and your own liability if issues ever arise.
Document the Following in Dedicated Logs:
- Seed Varieties & Suppliers
- Germination Rates
- Seeder/Transplanter Calibrations
- Planting Dates
- Irrigation Quantities/Frequencies
- Fertilizer Applications
- Pest/Disease Monitoring Observations
- Harvest Dates & Yields
- Inventory and Sales Volumes
- Production Costs & Pricing
- Equipment Cleaning/Maintenance
- Employee Training
Cloud-based farm management software centralizes records for streamlined reporting across tablets and computers. Start logging data today to shape success.
Distribution and Sales Outlets
Establishing reliable distribution channels and marketplaces to sell your microgreens directly connects niche specialty growers with prime target buyers willing to pay premium prices for ultra-fresh, local nutrients grown transparently.
Assess potential buyer segments based on current industry purchasing patterns when devising initial sales distribution plans:
- Restaurants: Chefs constantly seek new ways to impress patrons with creative, nutritious menu additions. Pitch sample microgreens while describing taste profiles and decorative plating ideas. Prioritize finer dining establishments with localized ingredient sourcing programs willing to incorporate seasonal variety integrating microgreens. Target resorts, conference centers, and corporate cafeterias too.
- Grocery Stores & Co-Ops: National chains feature prepared packaged salad mixes but generally source from massive centralized suppliers. Approach small regional grocers and food cooperatives committed to community values and local food systems. Ensure the ability to supply adequate volumes reliably before taking on additional retail partners.
- Farmers Markets: Face-to-face interactions forge customer loyalty and feedback guides future variety selections. But factoring in time investments when weighing against wholesale accounts. Accept SNAP benefits and highlight nutritional benefits to attract the widest consumer audience.
- CSA Farm Boxes: Pre-selling “microgreens shares” directly to consumers via Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions allows better forecasts of exact production volumes needed and cash flow during slower months. Offer add-ons tailored to seasonal menu planning.
- Online Marketplaces: Once establishing buyers and honing consistent production quality at locations, explore eCommerce channels to supplement orders and buffer against individual account losses. Just ensure strict cold-chain protocols are followed end-to-end.
Carefully weigh the advantages of each sales outlet including margins, volumes, variability, branding, and relationship considerations as well as requisite time investments when prioritizing marketing activities for measured growth meeting production capacities seasonally.
Multi-market diversification mitigates risks and evens cash flows but avoids overextending capabilities by growing incrementally. Start conservatively then expand strategically.
Packaging protects tender microgreens from crushing damage post-harvest and displays products attractively to improve shelf appeal while communicating key details to buyers. Have materials ready well in advance of production coming online.
Common microgreens packaging options include:
- Clamshell Containers: Shallow plastic trays with hinged clear lids allow visibility of vibrant young greens and prevent squishing compared to flexible bags for fragile leaves. Often preferred by grocery retailers and restaurateurs. Various sizes are available.
- Pouches: Heat-sealable polyethylene or compostable plant-based bags offer versatility for variable volumes. Allow consumers to reseal opened greens preventing premature spoilage. Lighter environmental impact but less rigid support.
- Food Trays with Film: Sturdy base trays with shrink-wrapped stretch film across tops suitable for food contact improve presentation and protection compared to pouches alone. Custom-printed decorative labels are possible.
- Living Microgreens: Eliminate post-harvest handling, storage, and transport issues by selling microgreens still growing in media trays directly to consumers or chefs. Requires careful logistics and client education with reliability.
Evaluate buyer specifications, balancing consumer-facing branding and sustainability considerations with operational practicalities regarding durability, packing densities, label adherence, and unit economics when procuring packaging supplies customized to your niche microgreen offerings and sales outlets in Florida.
Table 3. Economics of Microgreens Production Systems
|Production Method||Startup Costs||Operating Costs||Yields per Area||Profit Potential|
|Soil Beds||Low||Medium||0.5 lb / 2 ft^2 weekly||+|
|Hydro/Aero||High||High||1+ lb / 2 ft^2 weekly||+++|
|Vertical||Medium||Low||5+ lb / 10 ft^2 weekly||++++|
Marketing Your Florida Microgreens Brand
Investing in strategic marketing cultivates brand recognition and trust in your farm’s specialty microgreens offerings – fueling word-of-mouth referrals and customer loyalty in Florida’s increasingly competitive value-added produce marketplace.
Create a recognizable farm logo and label design appearing reliably across platforms nourishing familiarity. Convey your core values and why you started growing microgreens through engaging social media and web content.
Tempting imagery spotlights produce quality and suggest creative culinary uses. Invest in professional photography equipment and lighting once establishing initial customers to elevate your visual brand.
Satisfied chefs and shoppers organically sharing online reviews, menu specials featuring your microgreens, and photos of finished dishes prepared using your nutrient-dense ingredients provides credible social proof more impactful than paid advertising and cultivates the community.
Strategic co-marketing campaigns, customer loyalty programs with redeemable reward points, seasonal sampler packs, or bundling complementary items amplify average order values. Partner with local schools, hospitals, and charities on health initiatives providing promotional channels.
Host open house community events to meet patrons. Erect farm signage and directional displays along nearby high-traffic roadways. Distribute print flyers to area businesses. Apply for newspaper features or TV morning show segments showcasing your distinct microgreen varieties.
Consistent positive touchpoints through multiple mediums fortify your Florida microgreens farm’s brand equity over competitors. Monitor interest and sales by source to double down on the most effective initiatives. Time and creativity compound.
Evaluating Microgreens Profitability
When evaluating the profit potential of selling microgreens in Florida, both total revenue upside and key cost factors determine ultimate net profit results.
- Grade A Product Quality: Maximize repeat sales
- Harvest Timing: Optimal shelf life earns premium
- Production Volumes: Scale systems incrementally
- Buyer Diversity: Mitigate account loss risks
- Seasonality: Match higher-value varieties
- Sale Price: Benchmark competitors
- Distribution Logistics: Manage transport, delivery, and packaging expenses
Tightly controlling overhead and variable input costs protects slim specialty crop margins.
Cost levers include:
- Seed genetics: Compare supplier varietal performance
- Labor efficiency: Standardize systems for employee productivity
- Resource utilization: Track waste factors and resource usage per unit output
- Energy and water conservation: Every input adds up at scale
- Vertical integration: Bringing select upstream or downstream functions in-house may cut expenses through volumes
By diligently tracking real-world growing performance data and honing processes for efficiency, microgreens offer attractive profit potential. Model out best and worst-case annual financial projections during planning to size overall opportunity.
Proven income potential from Florida’s year-round microgreens cultivation climate positions the emerging niche crop favorably within resilient localized food economies prioritizing sustainable fresh fare.
Table 4. Seasonal Florida Microgreens Production Planning Calendar
|Season||Best Varieties||Other Recommended||Lettuce, Spinach, Chard|
|Spring||Arugula, Broccoli, Cabbage, Beets||Amaranth, Basil, Dill||Heat-sensitive chicories|
|Summer||Heat-lovers – Amaranth, Mustard, Collard||Asian greens||Lettuces, Spinach, Chard|
|Fall||Parsley, Cilantro, Chard||Kale, Radish, Beets||—|
|Winter||Lettuce, Endive, Spinach||Asian greens, Beets||Heat-lovers|
As interest in fresh, nutritious local produce continues expanding across Florida due to greater culinary creativity and amplified consumer health consciousness, generating incomes up to $50,000 for small-scale specialty crop growers, microgreens present a promising niche farming opportunity. Though producing the delicate greens under the state’s cottage food laws limits scaling potentials, minimal barriers to entry and Florida’s year-round cultivation climate enable farmers to test products meeting buyer preferences before committing major investments. Keys to success involve carefully selecting viable varieties, precision propagating and irrigation, consistent packaging and labeling, relationship-based sales outlets, and tracking metrics for continual optimizations balancing costs and profitability over seasons. While intensive hands-on labor prevents large-acreage microgreens production, dedicated growers maximizing the productivity of space-efficient protected systems can realize lucrative returns per square foot of seasonal nutrients supplying Florida’s emergent local food economy.