Greenhouse Profit Potential

Permaculture Greenhouse

A Friend of ours has been working on this greenhouse design for several years. We wanted to share it with others visiting our website.
What do you think? Is this a ‘Permaculture’ greenhouse?

We are saddened to hear that Chris Marron has passed away in May 2016. His daughter would like to continue his work, we’ll post as we hear updates. 


 

Overview Description Profit Potential – Flow Chart (PDF)

Chris Marron’s……
Perpetual Harvest Greenhouse System

Simple Greenhouse Projections for Perpetual Harvest System – Bill Wilson

Please note: In a permaculture greenhouse operation, it is more likely that there would be 2-3 dozen varieties of plants growing together for a complementary and sustainable system to be developed.  For purposes of exploring production capabilities however, we were only able to find numbers for single crop production.  Imagine having 18 of the most common vegetables growing in your greenhouse and you are supplying food not only for your family but for a local health food store and several restaurants that want tomatoes, cucumber, dill, lettuce, asparagus, zucchini, peas, beans, etc., all year round.

What if it were possible to net $500 a week from a single greenhouse…!

Tomatoes

Industry standards:
…claim a commercial greenhouse in the temperate climate zone (Feb. – Nov.) can conservatively produce an average of 4 lbs. of tomatoes per square foot (/sf), per year.  They estimate that the cost to operate runs between $.70 and 1.00 per pound which includes the current cost of energy.  They estimate product to sell for $1.25 to 2.50/lb. depending on the time of year and market competition.
So…
A 25’ x 90’ greenhouse = 2,250 sf.
@4 lbs./sf x 2,250 sf = 9000 lbs. of tomatoes annually

Conventional Expenses, Income and Profit
Estimate Operational costs at .90 lb.   (x 9.000 lbs.)        =                      $8,100 to operate
(Heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.)
Gross sales @ $1.30  (x 9,000 lbs.)                     =                                $11,700 gross revenue
Gross Profit (before management & sales costs)   =                       $3,600
These are typical annual profit projections for a single, relatively-small greenhouse.

 

What is Possible with a Perpetual Harvest System?
A year round New Jersey greenhouse operation using CO2 and supplemental lighting (in the winter months) demonstrated that tomatoes can be produced year round. Yields were comfortably in the 12-16 lbs./sq./ft range.   Chris Marron is confident his system will do much better.  This needs to be tested, so for now we will use a conservative, 12 lbs./sq./ft yield.

12 lbs./sf x 2,250sf = 27,000 lbs. of tomatoes annually

Operational costs  (go ahead and triple the above $8,100)  =            $24,300
(Heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.)
Gross Sales @ 1.30   (x 27,000 lbs.)                         =                        $35,000 in gross revenues
Gross Profit (before Mgmt. & sales)                         =                       $10,700

 

Note:
If tomatoes were grown organically and sold for a higher premium ($1.80 instead of $1.30) this would boost income by $13,500 without increasing expenses.
Gross Profit with organics =                        $24,200

Another Note:
We have a friend who sells ripe, organic tomatoes for $5.00/lb. retail, in season (farmers market in Chicago area). Off season prices could be higher.  The estimated profit if one could sell their produce at retail prices would be closer to $50,000 annually I believe.         =                         $50,000

So… Build two or three of these greenhouses and you have a nice annual income.

Dear Reader: Remember, these are just my best estimates of what is possible.  A prototype greenhouse still needs to be built to test these assumptions out.

Bill Wilson (March 2011)



Appendix:

http://www.hydro-gardens.com/planning_your_house.htm TOMATOES require from 4.0 to 5.0 square feet of greenhouse area per plant.  Therefore, the plant population in a 30′ x 132′ greenhouse will range from 990 plants to 792 plants.  Plant population is affected by greenhouse style, time of year you’re in production, and your location.  Production is normally calculated in pounds per square feet of greenhouse area.  It can range from 6.0# psf to well over 12# psf per year with currently available varieties.  (See production estimates at www.hydro-ardens.com/tomato_seeds.htm)
The cost of producing vegetable crops varies substantially from season to season and year to year.  It is generally accepted in the industry that this cost can range from $.70 per pound to $1.00 per pound.  A few of the many factors that affect this cost are heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.
The average selling price for vegetables in your area times the total yearly production gives you gross income. This will also vary substantially from season to season and year to year. Traditionally this yearly average has ranged from $1.25 per lb. to $2.50 per lb. for tomatoes.

High Production Green House (40lbs. sq. ft. annually)
From (Source:  http://www.pacpubserver.com/new/news/4-30-00/greenhouse.html)
It takes only about 90 days to go from seed to harvest.  An automated irrigation system waters and delivers nutrients to the plants, and is almost completely re-circulated.  Special lamps augment the natural light and carbon dioxide is introduced to further boost production. The entire tomato-growing technique is very high-tech, except for one aspect: a hive of bees pollinate tomato flowers in the old- fashioned way.  The end result is a red, delicious tomato.  Only a food snob could tell the difference between one of these greenhouse babies and one grown in Jersey’s summertime fields. ”  We produce about ten times the amount of tomatoes that would be grown outdoors in a similar space,” said Mr. Specca.  The hydroponic growing process utilizes technology from the Netherlands and requires only about half the manual labor normally required.

Permaculture Greenhouse

A Friend of ours has been working on this greenhouse design for several years. We wanted to share it with others visiting our website.
What do you think? Is this a ‘Permaculture’ greenhouse?

 


 

Overview Description Profit Potential – Flow Chart (PDF)

Chris Marron’s……
Perpetual Harvest Greenhouse System

Simple Greenhouse Projections for Perpetual Harvest System – Bill Wilson

Please note: In a permaculture greenhouse operation, it is more likely that there would be 2-3 dozen varieties of plants growing together for a complementary and sustainable system to be developed.  For purposes of exploring production capabilities however, we were only able to find numbers for single crop production.  Imagine having 18 of the most common vegetables growing in your greenhouse and you are supplying food not only for your family but for a local health food store and several restaurants that want tomatoes, cucumber, dill, lettuce, asparagus, zucchini, peas, beans, etc., all year round.

What if it were possible to net $500 a week from a single greenhouse…!

Tomatoes

Industry standards:
…claim a commercial greenhouse in the temperate climate zone (Feb. – Nov.) can conservatively produce an average of 4 lbs. of tomatoes per square foot (/sf), per year.  They estimate that the cost to operate runs between $.70 and 1.00 per pound which includes the current cost of energy.  They estimate product to sell for $1.25 to 2.50/lb. depending on the time of year and market competition.
So…
A 25’ x 90’ greenhouse = 2,250 sf.
@4 lbs./sf x 2,250 sf = 9000 lbs. of tomatoes annually

Conventional Expenses, Income and Profit
Estimate Operational costs at .90 lb.   (x 9.000 lbs.)        =                      $8,100 to operate
(Heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.)
Gross sales @ $1.30  (x 9,000 lbs.)                     =                                $11,700 gross revenue
Gross Profit (before management & sales costs)   =                       $3,600
These are typical annual profit projections for a single, relatively-small greenhouse.

 

What is Possible with a Perpetual Harvest System?
A year round New Jersey greenhouse operation using CO2 and supplemental lighting (in the winter months) demonstrated that tomatoes can be produced year round. Yields were comfortably in the 12-16 lbs./sq./ft range.   Chris Marron is confident his system will do much better.  This needs to be tested, so for now we will use a conservative, 12 lbs./sq./ft yield.

12 lbs./sf x 2,250sf = 27,000 lbs. of tomatoes annually

Operational costs  (go ahead and triple the above $8,100)  =            $24,300
(Heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.)
Gross Sales @ 1.30   (x 27,000 lbs.)                         =                        $35,000 in gross revenues
Gross Profit (before Mgmt. & sales)                         =                       $10,700

 

Note:
If tomatoes were grown organically and sold for a higher premium ($1.80 instead of $1.30) this would boost income by $13,500 without increasing expenses.
Gross Profit with organics =                        $24,200

Another Note:
We have a friend who sells ripe, organic tomatoes for $5.00/lb. retail, in season (farmers market in Chicago area). Off season prices could be higher.  The estimated profit if one could sell their produce at retail prices would be closer to $50,000 annually I believe.         =                         $50,000

So… Build two or three of these greenhouses and you have a nice annual income.

Dear Reader: Remember, these are just my best estimates of what is possible.  A prototype greenhouse still needs to be built to test these assumptions out.

Bill Wilson (March 2011)



Appendix:

http://www.hydro-gardens.com/planning_your_house.htm TOMATOES require from 4.0 to 5.0 square feet of greenhouse area per plant.  Therefore, the plant population in a 30′ x 132′ greenhouse will range from 990 plants to 792 plants.  Plant population is affected by greenhouse style, time of year you’re in production, and your location.  Production is normally calculated in pounds per square feet of greenhouse area.  It can range from 6.0# psf to well over 12# psf per year with currently available varieties.  (See production estimates at www.hydro-ardens.com/tomato_seeds.htm)
The cost of producing vegetable crops varies substantially from season to season and year to year.  It is generally accepted in the industry that this cost can range from $.70 per pound to $1.00 per pound.  A few of the many factors that affect this cost are heating and electrical, labor, debt repayment and interest, operating supplies, and taxes.
The average selling price for vegetables in your area times the total yearly production gives you gross income. This will also vary substantially from season to season and year to year. Traditionally this yearly average has ranged from $1.25 per lb. to $2.50 per lb. for tomatoes.

High Production Green House (40lbs. sq. ft. annually)
From (Source:  http://www.pacpubserver.com/new/news/4-30-00/greenhouse.html)
It takes only about 90 days to go from seed to harvest.  An automated irrigation system waters and delivers nutrients to the plants, and is almost completely re-circulated.  Special lamps augment the natural light and carbon dioxide is introduced to further boost production. The entire tomato-growing technique is very high-tech, except for one aspect: a hive of bees pollinate tomato flowers in the old- fashioned way.  The end result is a red, delicious tomato.  Only a food snob could tell the difference between one of these greenhouse babies and one grown in Jersey’s summertime fields. ”  We produce about ten times the amount of tomatoes that would be grown outdoors in a similar space,” said Mr. Specca.  The hydroponic growing process utilizes technology from the Netherlands and requires only about half the manual labor normally required.

3 thoughts on “Greenhouse Profit Potential”

  1. This article was posted in 2011. Have you been able to put your plan in place and how is the actual production vs the estimates given in this plan?

    1. We still have our focus in many other activities so have not as yet developed or tested these greenhouse ideas ourselves. Hope this changes in the next two years. Please check back. Best

  2. Hello. I am the Executive Director of a non profit society on the Sunshine Coast, near to Vancouver BC. We provide services to people with developmental disabilities. Over the past 2 years we have been increasing the amount of food that we grow at a variety of our locations. All stakeholders from Board members through to the people we serve are keen to expand into growing on a commercial level. We are pursuing the use of some good, flat, south facing land to erect greenhouses. Any thoughts about opportunities and pitfalls?

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