Microgreen Growing Frustrations | Bootstrap Farmer

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 From our How to Grow Microgreens Series

The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

 Nick & Nathan from On the Acre in Houston, TX discuss the topic.  For more advanced microgreens business training, visit our Urban Farm Academy Business of Microgreens course. 

 

Microgreen Growing Frustrations

The top frustrations? I would say, it’s not necessarily a frustration but, just really constantly self-reflecting and being aware of your growth. {Knowing} what your needs are outside of your capabilities. For us to understand when and where we need to take on employees, we need to take on new processes. Because processes that we came up with three months ago that we were like, “yeah high five,” you know all of a sudden are now dragging us down. It's a constant just kind of a repeat, repeat, repeat of thinking about, “is what we're doing now the best for where we're going?” Not even necessarily about what's happening now but is this taking us forward?

Just always taking that balance in that scale. You know, do we need more people to free up more time to do this? It's just kind of that, always walking that fine line of staying profitable, staying relevant in the industry that we're in. Growing manageably, like not blowing up and not being able to handle what we're doing. It's always walking that really fine line of are we making money, are we able to keep on doing what we do? Every day is a new experience and a learning experience.

One frustration for me would be figuring out how to get your chefs to understand that everything that we grow is for them. Like, this tray is actually for you I’m not growing it just to be growing it. So when you tell me you need something, it's gonna be ready one day but I'm gonna need you to take it on that day. Because I'm gonna cut it, I'm gonna package it, and I'm gonna drive it to you.

So getting chefs to understand that you are growing everything to order. That they have the ability to customize whatever they want and to really take an interest and not just say just give me the mix. You know, to be reliant on you. We are hyper reliant. I send my chefs four text messages a week. Twice on harvest, each harvest, asking them (you know the ones that don't accept standing orders) do you need anything tomorrow? Because I want to make sure that they have their stuff. It's a challenge with some chefs and maybe it's because, you know, it's not that important to them. But I’ve got tons of stuff growing for them that I need them to take so I can make room on my racks. So that's a frustration.

We sell it to someone else if they don't want it honestly. But that's because we're in a position to be able to now. With two restaurants you can't {necessarily} do that. That would be different. But in those instances you take out samples.

Yeah that's what made us grow. When someone refused something and we had to {take out samples} it made us grow… A lot of our restaurants have gone through those periods where they are really excited when they first meet us. Because, yes, they're seeing something that they've seen on TV, something that their friends talk about, their groups. They have access to microgreens now and they just want a lot of them. And then after that they realize that, “Oh my god I'm buying all this stuff, and I have no processes in my kitchen to use it, and it's going bad, or I'm not using it or my manager doesn't want this on the menu now and I've got a change.” You know, whatever they deal with.

So there's always that learning curve on both our ends where we kind of adjust to one another. That process is a little bit frustrating. Because on both ends you're trying to come to a place where they're getting the value that they want from your product and you are able to consistently provide them with that product. {Meanwhile} managing your own spaces and margins and such. So that whole process, that little dance is frustrating sometimes. It takes two to three months to flatten out and get everybody on the same page. That goes to chef education you know. Being able to get them to understand what it is that we do that's different from Cisco you know.

We're not just a delivery service. We're actually, you know, getting them to understand that everything we grow is grown in less than five weeks. So you know typical vegetables take months and months and they're only ready a certain time of the year otherwise they're not fresh. It’s a learning curve. 





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