Basement Ideas - How to start an indoor farming business

Converting your basement into a business is a new form of B2B. Building businesses with social impact is a passion for us and if that passion can profit with purpose, then why not? We’ve done some research to help our Trendy Grower community to convert their basements into thriving, socially positive businesses.

If you've always thought of having your own business or getting into a side project that someday might become a viable full-time alternative; then you must consider Indoor Farming as a source of income generation.

Read on for more details.

Understanding the Global Indoor Farming Market

According to a 2019 research report by Mordor Intelligence the indoor farming market was valued at USD 106.6 billion. This is expected to grow to USD 129.36 billion by 2023. North America accounted for nearly 44.2% of the global indoor farming market.

Within the indoor farming market, hydroponics farming (a horticulture soilless farming method that uses water as the main medium for the roots) accounted for a little over 22% of the indoor farming market in 2017 valued at USD 24.92 billion. This is expected to grow by 5.9% (compounded annual growth rate) from 2019-2023.

Therefore the market size and growth rate for Indoor Farming makes it a really exciting business opportunity. All these indicators show that indoor farming will play a crucial role in the world’s food supply, it is important to understand some of the basics of indoor farming. 

What is Indoor Farming?

Indoor farming is a way to grow plants or crops entirely indoors under controlled light and climate conditions. Indoor farming or indoor gardening can be conducted in small spaces such as homes or larger spaces such as buildings or warehouses. Indoor farming involves the use of plant-specific grow lights and climate controls such as temperature and humidity to ensure that plants can perform photosynthesis to grow and bloom.

What are the different methods of Indoor Farming?

Hydroponics, aeroponics and traditional soil or coco peat based methods exist for indoor farming.

Hydroponic indoor farming has emerged as one of the most popular and efficient ways to grow plants indoors. Hydroponics involves the use of nutrient-rich water as a medium in which the roots of the plant are immersed. The plants absorb the nutrients from the water and flourish. When coupled with artificial led grow lights and a controlled environment, indoor farms are able to create ideal conditions for plants to grow. The result is higher yields and far less resource consumption to grow produce.

Aeroponics is similar to hydroponics with the key difference being that air is the medium i.e. roots are suspended in air and frequently receive a fine nutrient-rich mist which makes it even easier for roots to absorb. Aeroponics is one of the most efficient horticulture methods of farming today but has a higher cost of setup than hydroponics.  

What plants can I grow Indoors?

Indoor farming certainly has some limitations in terms of what one can grow. The past few years have seen major strides from indoor farms growing leafy greens, microgreens, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. However, more testing and research is being done to grow more exotic and different types of plants in indoor environments.  Depending on the space and size of the farm or indoor growing area, urban farmers can grow most vegetables indoors. Here is are 7 vegetables you can grow indoors

What do you need to start indoor farming?

First, identify the space in which you plan to setup your growing area. This could be a corner of your basement or even the whole basement. You have the option to use grow tents in order to maintain climate control and humidity levels within a limited area. This can prove to be useful when experimenting with certain type of plants. If you want to experiment with indoor gardening then getting a ready grow tent kit (equipped with LED lights, ventilation, temperature and humidity controls) are ideal to start with.

Next you will need growing pots or ideally a hydroponic setup. There are several options such as grow racks, grow trays, NFT (Nutrient Film Technology) systems or Deep Water Culture (DWC) systems. Choosing the right type of system and growing unit will depend on what you wish to grow. For shorter leafy green and microgreens, grow trays, NFT systems and DWC systems work well. For taller plants such as tomatoes, it is recommended to use DWC setups and also provide a trellis to support the plants. This step requires more detailed research to weigh your options and costs, and is a long subject, which we will not delve into. There are several DIY videos on youtube and numerous articles to help guide further. The idea of this article is to give you an introduction to what you need to keep in mind when looking into an indoor garden setup.

Next you will need LED grow lights to ensure that you plants get ample light for photosynthesis. LED grow lights are the most efficient grow lights in the market today with several brands to choose from. LED grow lights are powerful, efficient and designed specifically for plants. There are several brands such as Black Dog LED, California Lightworks, Kind LED and Mars Hydro to name a few.

Read our earlier article to understand how to choose the right LED grow light for your needs.

The next thing that you will need to look into is ensuring the right temperature and humidity is maintained in the grow room. Temperature requirements vary for each plant but as we have mentioned earlier in our article on the types of vegetables you can grow indoor, certain temperature ranges are ideal for a few plants to be grown together. Maintaining the right humidity levels are essential as well. It is therefore important to have a dehumidifier in the room along with a gauge to measure.


What do I do with the vegetables produced from my indoor garden?

You have a couple of options here depending on the quantity of produce. First and foremost, enjoy the fruits or shall we say the vegetables of your labour. Get the kids and the family to enjoy the freshness and wonderful taste of what has been grown at home.

Once you have more supply than you need for your family, move over to offer it to the neighbours. You can even set up a weekly subscription based service to sell your produce to the community around you.

Farmers markets offer another great option to sell your produce. Sign up with the closest farmers market to you and join the community to share your fresh greens each week.

On a more noble and social impact side, you can look to donate your vegetable produce to a foodbank in your area. Food banks are always in need of fresh produce and you would be doing the entire community a huge deed by doing this.

Online sales through numerous websites also offer urban farmers the option to sell their produce. Tie up with one of these websites that will arrange for a pick up or ask you to drop you produce at a certain collection center. They give you a fair price for your produce and you can be guaranteed of a buyer.

Restaurants and other eateries are great consumers of fresh produce. Chefs are constantly looking for fresh greens, herbs and other products to add to their daily culinary menus. It would be a great idea to speak to a few establishments to understand their demands and tailor your farm to meet their needs. That will give you a guaranteed buyer and you will turn profits as a result for your basement farm.

We hope this inspires you to look into converting your basement into a farm. It’s the need of the hour for us to produce food within the cities. This greatly helps reduce the carbon footprint caused by food miles (food grown in farms far out of a city).

Happy growing!

Resources

2019 research Indoor Farming Research Report by Mordor Intelligence






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