Indoor micro farming is becoming a stable alternative to outdoor commercial agriculture. The challenges of outdoor farming have pushed small family farmers off their land, consolidating commercial farms into large enterprises across the globe. An international trade environment has diminished the food security of some communities, as demonstrated by the challenges faced by global supply chains in recent years.
Despite all this, however, small indoor operations are popping up to meet the increasing demand for local, sustainably produced food. Did you know small farms produce more than 70 percent of the world’s food? Family farms are the heart of their communities, strengthening those around them with nutritious produce and personal connections.
However, not every family in a residential area wants to grow a large farm of crops. If everyone in a community spent a bit of time cultivating a micro farm each week, there would be more nutritious, healthy produce for the entire community.
This blog covers everything you need to know about indoor micro farming, including its benefits, costs, and how to profit from one.
Basics of Indoor Micro Farming
Indoor micro farming refers to small-scale farms in urban or suburban areas. The ability to control environmental factors like lighting, humidity, and temperature is the most significant advantage that indoor farming has over outdoor agriculture.
Indoor alternatives to field farming, like greenhouses, have been around for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that controlled environment farms emerged.
Hydroponic systems grow crops by watering plants with a nutrient-rich solution. Instead of soil, plants are grown in a nutrition-less growing medium that allows plants to absorb the nutrients from the water easier than if they were grown in soil.
We use hydroponic systems to cultivate crops in our Pure Greens Container Farms, which are made from shipping containers.
Indoor micro farms are often started using spare space like an unused basement, guest room, or garage in the farmer’s home. But they can also be created in any small, secure indoor area. Shipping containers are secure, protecting your crops from pests and environmental conditions.
Benefits of Indoor Micro Farming
Using a small space to grow produce is only one of indoor micro farming’s many benefits.
Increases Local Food Security
Indoor micro farming can fill the demand for certain produce or alleviate pricing problems for expensive crops. When there are more growers cultivating crops, there’s less of a need for harmful commercial farms to continually expand.
Lucky for micro farmers, demand for locally produced food across the United States is increasing. Nielsen, a data and measurement firm, found that 48% of consumers prefer ingredients and food produced locally.
Indoor micro farming fills this demand by being produced in the center of commercial areas, guaranteeing local produce is always available.
Indoor Micro Farming is Versatile
Purchasing land or buildings big enough for large-scale operations is expensive. Indoor micro farming allows people to use the facilities they already live in to start growing.
Capital expenses are lower because you don’t have to purchase new land. Plus, equipment isn’t as expensive for micro farms due to the availability of ready-for-installation systems and “Do It Yourself” (DIY) tutorials.
Specialize in a Niche Market
Indoor micro farming also allows you to develop a local customer base and specialize in a niche market.
Indoor micro farming also allows restaurateurs to grow their own produce onsite, reducing food waste by being able to harvest only what’s needed rather than buying in bulk. Customers will also appreciate the fresher-tasting food!
Indoor Pure Greens Micro Farming Systems
Because micro farming can be done using any size of space, there’s a wide variety of systems to pick from. Our Pure Greens Container Farms are an excellent choice for those with yard space to fit 20ft or 40ft shipping containers. We also offer larger enterprise units that could be separated into several micro farming “plots”, and cultivated with a small group of interested growers.
Our farms come outfitted with a recirculating hydroponic system, reducing water consumption, and an automated controlled environment system that can be monitored from your smartphone.
How to Profit from Indoor Micro Farming
The first step to making a profit from indoor micro farming comes before you even plant a single crop: Research.
Find a Product in High Demand
You’ll want to find demand for a product that isn’t being met in the local market. Meet with potential customers like chefs, grocery stores and those who frequent farmers’ markets and ask what they’d like to be able to purchase fresh. Ask them what they’d be willing to pay for nutritious, herbicide and pesticide-free produce. After talking with prospective customers, you’ll develop an understanding of the local produce market.
Focus on growing specialty crops rather than common produce like lettuce (unless that type of produce is in high demand). For instance, because of supply and demand, lettuce will sell for much higher in Alaska than in Arizona.
Find Your Market
Consider selling your products at farmers’ markets, vendors, wholesale distributors, and local restaurants. The number of farmers’ markets in the country has tripled since 2000, making it an easy choice for finding customers.
Research popular farmers’ markets in your area and learn how to set up shop. Keep in mind that some markets will charge a fee to set up a booth. Alternatively, approach a different produce vendor and let them sample your product. If all goes well, they will sell your product for you!
Find an intermediary by selling to wholesale distributors. Distributors will find shops to sell your products for you, giving you more time to focus on growing. Or you can sell your produce directly to local restaurants.
Cultivating a Niche
Research chefs who focus on crafting dishes using locally sourced greens. Set an appointment with chefs to pitch your business to them, and bring your best samples.
Try to form a rapport with the restaurant. Find out whether they’d prefer a range of products or a specific good. When you establish your clientele, your indoor micro farm will blossom with new curious customers in no time.
Now that you’re familiar with indoor micro farming, it’s time to get started. Visit our website to learn more about micro farming with a Pure Greens container farm.