Micro farming has been the new trend in the farming industry.
Thanks to micro farming, growing crops doesn’t necessarily require acres of land to be feasible.
Moreover, beginners can start micro farming the same way veteran green thumbs and farmers can.
Besides convenience, micro farming provides a lot of benefits for average home owners, farmers, and to the planet.
Let us know more about micro farming and how it can open doors for a more sustainable future.
What is Micro Farming
In a nutshell, a micro farm is a smaller version of an actual farm and is generally conducted by hand in urban or suburban areas.
It is basically like a home garden, but you maximize land and space efficiency by planting crops that will turn into profit.
Depending on location, micro farming also requires different methods, which we will discuss in a moment.
But the idea of a micro farm isn’t a new thing.
People have been “micro farming” long before the term was official.
Ever since traditional farming was practiced, other homeowners have also used their small plot of lands for producing crops and raising farm animals.
And even though micro farms are smaller than traditional farms, they can be very profitable if managed properly.
How to Start Micro Farming at Home
Starting a micro farm is not as hard as an actual farm.
You can also use secondhand farming materials and use them to save money.
If you have enough space to fit a small garden in your home area, you are capable of starting your micro farm.
Heck, you can have a micro farm even with just a patio!
Here are a few tips to start your micro farm at home:
Start slow and small
In any business, it is safe to start small.
With micro farming, the best way is to start small, especially for beginners.
Not all plants are easy to grow, and by starting small, you’ll have time to test the plants, have fewer trials, and know the best way to get a high-quality harvest.
Take time to understand the nature of a micro farm setup and how you can maximize your profit.
Have time for your micro farm every day
Invest in your micro farm, not just money-wise but also time-wise.
Micro farming takes time until you see actual results.
During this period, you might develop an unwillingness to pursue.
It is very understandable to feel that way.
It is crucial to have a powerful mindset and patience to get to the harvesting period.
By having at least 30 minutes a day for your micro farm, you will form a sense of responsibility and practice that you will need for a long time.
Farming requires diligence to sustain and ensure a bountiful harvest.
Plan the crops you will plant
The best way to maximize your micro farm is to plan the crops you’ll plant.
For starters, experienced micro farmers encourage planting short-season crops to sustain production.
This part is crucial because not all short-season crops have a huge market.
And to avoid wasting crops, start with the ones you like to eat.
It is safe since it will save you money from groceries and going outside regardless if you can’t find sellers for it.
Study the market as well. Make every trip to the grocery a feasibility study to know which crops are appropriate for your micro-farm.
In that note…
Consider planting perennials in your micro-farm
Perennial crops are a good option as you plan your micro-farm because of a single factor; it grows back after harvest.
Most crops are naturally perennial, but not all of them can be good for micro-farming. Examples of perennial crops that your micro-farm can accommodate are Mint, Oregano, Strawberries, Brocolli, etc.
Other benefits of perennial crops include:
- Water efficiency – Perennial crops’ fibrous and deep roots can hold soil moisture efficiently.
- Erosion control – Perennial crops don’t need replanting each year, reducing topsoil erosion.
- Nutrient cycling efficiency – Extensive root system enables perennial crops to absorb more nutrients efficiently.
- Carbon sequestration – Perennial crops need a more significant amount of carbon to develop extensive roots, which integrates carbon into soil organic matter, increasing soil organic carbon stocks.
Consider investing in building materials
As you start your micro farm, have the vision to upgrade and save some profit for building materials.
It can expand your planting area and also increase your estimated income.
For example, a wall for a hanging garden may cost you a few woods, but it can maximize space and produce. You can create a hanging basket with used woods or other cheaper materials.
If you are on a tight budget, you can find secondhand materials in your backyard or ask some friends if they have scrap materials that you can have.
Maybe offer them something when the harvest is up.
There are ways to squeeze the budget and still meet your vision as long as you progressively think of ways to improve your micro farm.
Find resellers for your harvests
We need profit to sustain our business, in this case, our micro farm. We need to find resellers for the crops we harvested.
Though we can sell our harvests ourselves, the time will come that we will have more produce than we can handle. It will be more practical to find resellers.
It is easy to find resellers if we have high-quality produce. This is the first thing that we should be sure of.
The best place to look for resellers is in the market because there are not that many processes to sell your goods compared to groceries.
Online could be an option too. Technology has helped us in so many ways we don’t even need to go out of the house.
You can start a self-sustaining micro-farm that can multiply profit consistently by following these steps.
Different Micro Farming Methods
There are different forms of micro farming.
Whether you simply want to upgrade your home garden or start micro farming for profits, you can pick a micro-farming method that fits your goal.
Let’s check out your options.
Modular micro farming
Modular micro-farming is an indoor micro farming method.
It requires automated modular food-growing equipment, which is not cheap.
It does make farming easier and scalable, like any appliance in your home.
A famous example of modular micro-farming is Babylon Micro-Farms.
They sell refrigerator-like machines that cast appropriate light and water to grow seeds.
Babylon’s 15 sqft micro-farms can produce crops as much as a 2000 sqft farmland.
Microgreens are the type of vegetables that are already edible in two weeks. Most of them are served in salads, and a business you can start with a low budget.
When harvesting microgreens, be careful to pull them to their roots for them to keep on growing.
Hydroponics is the process of using nutrient-rich water to grow crops instead of soil. By growing and keeping the roots in contact with the water, the yields will continue to produce harvest through time.
There are different types of hydroponic systems you can try:
- Static – Plants are grown in tubes or plastic buckets with unaerated or semi-aerated water.
- Continuous flow – The roots touch the constant flow of nutrient-rich water for better oxygen absorption.
- Aeroponics – The roots are not submerged in water but misted only with nutrient solution.
- Ebb and flow – Plants are submerged in water and drained daily.
Many health-conscious people and vegans are practicing hydroponics because it reduces waste and pollution to guarantee high-quality produce. It is also a low-cost investment with a high growth rate and profit potential.
Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture. It is almost the same concept aside from raising aquatic animals.
It is a low investment, but it may require a bigger space than basic hydroponics since aquatic animals are present. You can use a small pond or an aquarium to start.
Mushroom micro farming
Mushroom are fungi, so it is easy to grow, and there is no delicate environmental condition required for them to multiply. Many micro-farmers have already been successful because of mushroom farming.
Mushrooms only take at least more than a month to be harvested in big numbers depending on how big the operation is.
There are more ideas for small farms though they may not suit your homes. The list we provided above is perfect for any living condition as long as you can be as creative as possible.
Benefits of Micro Farming
Micro farming is good for us and the planet on so many levels.
Here are the benefits of micro farming:
Micro-farming can lessen our impact on the environment
Planting is always good for the environment.
It promotes rich biodiversity that is essential for our ecosystem and as you already know, plants helps clean the air.
Managing a micro farm will enable us to create an area where everything natural is present. By doing that, we have less impact on our planet.
You can get fresh produce with micro farming
Fresh, chemical-free, and highly-nutritious crops and livestock can only be guaranteed if you harvest them yourself.
Micro farming will give you these perks.
It will also reduce the need to go outside to buy groceries, saving our environment from harmful emissions produced by transport vehicles.
Moreover, a micro farm will help you save money for food since you have your fresh harvest at your doorstep.
Micro farming can open business opportunities at a low capital
From what we have discussed earlier about the different kinds of micro-farming, all are low investments besides modular micro-farming.
Micro-farming teaches us to start small and slow as we gradually grow our farm into a self-sustaining high-profit business. Take care of your farm, and it will take care of you.
Micro farming requires less labor and farming equipment
Compared to an actual farm, micro farms need less labor.
Owners can be in charge of all responsibilities since it is not that big.
Family members can help as well in attending to the farm. as laborers will cost a weekly or monthly wage that will slow down your income.
Micro farming offers health benefits
Micro farming, like gardening, has physical benefits that can keep us healthy and strong.
It is scientifically proven that micro farming is beneficial to us because it can be a form of exercise, relieve stress and anxiety, and reduce high blood pressure and heart attack.
Micro-farming is beneficial in our social, ecological, economic, and personal life.
We must consider starting our micro farm and experience the benefits ourselves for these reasons.
Challenges of Micro Farming
Like other methods of farming, micro-farming has its flaws and challenges.
You must take note of these if you are going to start your micro-farm to manage it well.
Here are some challenges of micro-farming:
Micro farms can be congested as the crops grow
Given that micro-farms are smaller in terms of space, it could also be a problem in the long run as your crops continue to grow.
Soon, the area will be almost congested, and it will be an issue. You have to figure out a way to fit all your crops together before it does.
Trimming can fix this issue, but be aware that as you cut stems, more stems will sprout. Trimming should be done regularly to keep the farm organized.
Micro farming can cause soil malnutrition
Another challenge of having many crops in a small area is the amount of nutrients in the soil. The soil’s health is critical to micro-farming.
Use organic fertilizers and compost on your crops to keep the soil healthy. Cultivate the soil when it is not too wet to prevent clumping.
Clumped soil is unsuitable for the roots, leading to poor quality crops and dying plants. If the soil crumbles in your hands, that is the perfect time to cultivate the soil.
Planting nitrogen-fixing legumes will also benefit the soil, as it can bring nutrients back after a harvest. Examples of these legumes are peanuts, cowpeas, soybeans, and fava beans.
Urban areas may have less access to land for a micro farm
Cities might lack healthy land since the places are mostly cemented.
For those living in urban areas and wanting to build their micro farm, you can consider checking out nearby suburban areas to find healthy soil and crops.
You may also consider using hydroponics type of micro farming to reduce the soil requirement.
Micro farming requires dedication
While micro farming can reduce the number of laborers, it may intensify the amount of work for a single laborer.
As an owner of a micro-farm, you are responsible for all the work.
The Future of Micro Farming
Micro farming is becoming the answer to agriculture sustainability.
If we have our own at home, we can cover our food and lessen our need to buy groceries.
As cities start to consume our forests, food supply may have issues, not only on crops but also on livestock.
Micro farming can solve this issues before it goes out of hand.
Through technology, farming has adjusted to different lifestyles up to a point where anyone can have their own micro farm.
Research claims that even from an economic perspective, micro farming can also help stabilize the supply and demand of crops.
Micro farming is very timely and everyone who can should consider starting a micro farm.
If not for profits, just for personal consumption.
In a time when even the food we buy from groceries negatively impacts the environment, isn’t it better to grow our food in our micro farm?
What is the most profitable crop for micro farms?
There are too many to mention, but to be specific, herbs and spices used for cooking are most likely to be profitable because they are easy to plant and grow. They are a great example of short-season crops.
Moreover, spices are used in everyday cooking. You and other consumers will never run out of use for herbs.
Mushrooms, garlic, and onions are also the most profitable because they are popular cooking ingredients and grow fast.
Is micro farming profitable?
Of course. It may not be as competitive as big farms, but it can match their profit in time. Investing in micro-farms is less expensive but can offer high rewards in the long run.
What food grows all year round?
Food that grows all year round, or the so-called perennial plants, doesn’t require planting from seeds again and again. A few examples are Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Onion, etc.
You can use these crops in different healthy recipes for your family.
How do micro farmers make money?
By planting short-season crops and studying the market for demands, micro farmers can earn good profits.