Getting Rich Growing Herbs
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Lucas Escott
Posted on: March 23, 2007

I have been growing hydroponically for 10 years now and really enjoy it and would like to do it as a profession. I live in the Toronto area and currently sell real estate. I do extremely well but I enjoy this much more. So my question to you is: can I have a hydroponic business in Ontario which starts with culinary herbs and then eventually tomatos or cucumbers and become rich? With lots of hard work and dedication of course.

Well, I don’t know anybody who is getting rich growing herbs (with the exception of the illegal herbs!). You certainly can make a living from herbs -- with lots of hard work and dedication, of course -- but don’t expect to get rich. Most herbs suitable for growing in Ontario, either in the field or in greenhouses, are commodities with the kinds of slim margins that you find throughout the agriculture and horticulture industries. Generally, herb crops have better than average margins compared to other agricultural and horticultural crops, but still they are not going to cause your bank account to swell.

Most astute growers quickly realize that they need to add some sort of value to their product in order to make better profits. This takes a bit of ingenuity and not many growers are also strong in product development and marketing. But those who have strength in more than just the growing area are doing very well.

The hydroponics industry is expanding as a method of commercial production of herbs and vegetables. I am hearing of some very large operations in many countries, so hydroponics has merit as an option for you to go. However, you need to be aware that hydroponic herbs are more complex than tomatoes, cucumbers or lettuce because the fresh herb market generally requires you to have at least a half dozen or a dozen varieties available, whereas it is possible to focus on just one variety of tomato or one variety of cucumber. And some of these herbs are not easily grown in a hydroponic operation, so you will be tinkering quite a lot at first to get your mix of varieties up to production levels. Marketing is a challenge too because of year-round competition from offshore fresh herbs and location field-grown herbs in summer.

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