We were able to take out a small loan and put in enough equipment to start growing. We bought powder coated racks from Bunnings as we couldn't find the size we wanted anywhere else. However on putting them together we realised they didn't leave much room between racks and it really wasn't ideal. We will look to source a different kind of rack in future. However, we have found a way around this by ordering a flat tank to go underneath. We will pump the drained nutrient out of that through a uv filter back into the main nutrient tank. This will give us extra room for our racks above plus decrease the chance of bacterial growth.
We made several beginner mistakes and our first crop has not done well. However our second set of seedlings are thriving. The silver lining is that we can record this learning and include it in our resource documents for future micro farm owners and agritech STEM students.
We have created a future collaboration with a food bag company called Kete Kai, with the idea of working with community trusts to have their own farms that provide the vegetables to the food bags. We were hoping to start supplying them this year but have made the decision to put it off till 2022 so we can gain expertise in growing the most nourishing crops we can.
We are also applying for the NP1 certification so we can supply crops safely with an approved food control plan. I was going to do an online Food Safety course but the strangest thing happened. First of all, my booking never went through. Secondly, when I contacted them to try and arrange a last minute attendance, they declined me thinking that I was a spy! Apparently they don't want to expose their Food Safety IP to someone who also works in elearning. I was completely nonplussed and will obviously be spending my money elsewhere.
I am now trying to design an area where I can safely clean and dry the crops without insects getting to them, before packaging. I don't want to put it within the container as that wastes valuable growing spaces so I either get a shed or clean out my garage. I do need somewhere I can easily clean.
I have tried out several crop software tools and have realised all of them are just frames within which you are supposed to put all your knowledge of tasks that need to be done. Tend is the best so far with at least some automatic tasks put in for germination, transferring and harvesting dates. This has come with the realisation that knowledge within a technology tool is the best product I can provide.
I just have to learn how to do everything myself now. Time to buy some books and do some online courses!