Sustainable Microgreens Packaging

Project Overview

FNE22-029
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,137.00
Projected End Date: 03/01/2023
Grant Recipient: Brooklyn Grange
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Benjamin Flanner
Brooklyn Grange

Commodities

  • Vegetables: greens (leafy)

Practices

  • Farm Business Management: other
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    With the Sustainable Microgreens Packaging project, Brooklyn Grange will endeavor to eradicate single-use plastics in our retail microgreens distribution. Microgreens are an important revenue stream for our small, sustainable urban farm business. Currently, our greenhouse produces over 30,000 units of packaged microgreens per year, which are distributed through our retail markets and wholesale accounts in single-use plastic (PET) clamshells. Our farmers have previously attempted to research more sustainable options for microgreens packaging, but have repeatedly failed to identify and transition over to a better option because it is a time-intensive and risky project. Plastic clamshells are the industry standard for microgreens distribution, because they reliably keep products fresh and they are easy to display on retail shelves. In order to fully commit to a more sustainable packaging option, our farm team will need time to research and test alternative packaging options, including market research in collaboration with our Technical Advisors at The Meat Hook (a local grocer who distributes our microgreens). Once we have tested and chosen the best option, our team will design and purchase new labels to fit on the new packaging, and roll out the updated product line along with a marketing and educational campaign about the project, the produce, and the packaging. We will also communicate to our wholesale accounts and fellow farmers in the microgreens business about our findings, to ensure that the information that we have gathered is disseminated widely, and that the project is as impactful as possible. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objectives of the Sustainable Microgreens Packaging project are to: 

    1. STUDY: A. Identify the most environmentally-friendly microgreens packaging options on the market, and B. Test their efficacy. The anticipated result of this objective will be to find a high-performing and low impact container that we can use to market our microgreens. Having assessed the sustainability and performance of different packaging, we will uncover a true "green" alternative to plastic clamshells. 
    2. DEPLOY: Switch our microgreens packaging over to the best, most sustainable packaging option. The anticipated outcome of this will be to cease all single-use plastic clamshell use in our microgreens operation, replacing thermoform PETE with a more sustainable alternative. This switch will benefit the environment, and help our farm get closer to achieving our goals as a green business. 
    3. EDUCATE: Market our microgreens with labels/imagery that tells the story of the new packaging, and share our findings with other farmers. This information will benefit farmers who are eager to operate more sustainably. 

    The immediate intent of this project is to reduce single-use plastics at Brooklyn Grange, but our hope is that our approach and findings will lead to more widespread adoption of sustainable packaging throughout the microgreens industry at large. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.