When planning to set up a Tower Farm, people always wonder what crops they should grow.
Based on our extensive experience setting up Tower Farms indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouses (on 4 continents), our advice is to let the local market decide what crops should be grown!
When setting up a pilot project, we recommend to new tower farmers to grow a wide array of crops. It is important to have enough different varieties of vegetables to showcase the potential of the Tower Garden technology to local food buyers, restaurant owners, hotel operators, etc.
Generally, when considering to start a Tower Farm, people are only thinking along the lines of growing crops which are not available in their area. Often times, due to culinary cultural ramifications and/or geographic isolation, ‘specialty crops’ take a long time to become a part of locals’ food buying patterns. In other terms, offering new crops might lead in a long educating phase which ends up frequently in food and money loss.
When growing fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis (aubergine), Tower Garden aeroponic technology produces great harvest, but there are other options which offer equal results for a lesser initial investment.
However, when growing leafy greens and aromatic herbs, a Tower Farm using Tower Garden commercial-grade aeroponic towers is in a category of its own, in terms of nutrient density, anti-oxidant values, flavonoid levels, and crop yields. Tower Garden technology is unparalleled when growing leafy greens and aromatic herbs saving up to 95% water and 75% space in comparison to conventional farming practices.
When starting a new Tower Farm, not only do we advise to grow many different crops, but we also recommend to include the classic leafy greens and herbs, i.e. spinach, lettuce, basil, etc. It does not matter if the local food market is already saturated with such greens! We can guarantee that no one else can grow spinach or basil that will be as flavorful!
Let the local food market define the varieties of crops that will be grown in your upcoming Tower Farm operation.
In most cases, ROI projections and various local food market studies which are part of an initial Tower Farm business plan, end up being in vain. The vast majority of Tower Farms specialize in growing crops which were not part of ‘the original plan’!
We know of a farmer who initially wanted to grow tomatoes but now specializes in edible flowers and medicinal herbs. We also work with a Tower Farm which had 20+ crops in mind when they started, and now, 90% of their towers are dedicated just for basil.
A certain percentage of towers can end up being ‘leased’ to selected restaurants and hotels, and used to grow specialty crops according to each customer’s specific needs. Some towers also can be leased by schools and other educational-related organizations. Specialty crops which will be grown specifically on towers being leased, cannot be forecasted when starting a new Tower Farm project. Again, it is the initial reaction of the local market which truly defines the cash crops of a Tower Farm.
We do understand that when starting a Tower Farm, investors new to the food security industry want to be able to forecast their ROI. Such process always includes a preset crop selection featured within the initial business plan.
Allow us to insist on the following recommendation: when starting your pilot Tower Farm project, start by growing a wide variety of leafy greens and herbs, and sample your first harvests to the local market: be flexible because you might be up for a surprise!