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How Much Time Does it Take to be a Farmer?

A single person can run a full greenhouse!

Controlled environment agriculture (AKA growing in a greenhouse) is great for a lot of reasons, but a big one is how many functions can be automated. You can install equipment that will regulate the temperature, amount of light, water and nutrient flow, and more.

  • But even with all this automation, there is still a lot that needs to be done manually!
  • One of the biggest questions we get asked is:
  • How many hours will I need to spend to run a greenhouse?

Obviously this question is really important. It’s going to make the difference for a lot of other aspects of your farm:

Just the other week, we published a video that provides some basic answers (check it out here! >), but we wanted to go a little bit more in-depth in this post!

Of course, the answer to this question depends on a ton of factors! System size, sales model, and more. But here’s some estimates that should give you a good idea. We’re going to base this off of the assumption that you’re working with a system like our Get Growing 10k package. It’s a 30’x96’ greenhouse will a full NFT system inside.  This NFT system can produce more than 2,500 plants a week!  These times are of course estimates based on our extensive experience. 

Working with the plants:
15 hours per week

      • This includes planting new seeds, checking to make sure your nutrient mix is performing well, transferring growing plants to a new channel, checking all your plants for pest or disease, and eventually harvesting your plants

Misc Greenhouse Tasks:
10 hours per week

      • There’s a lot going on in the greenhouse besides just moving plants around! You have to keep it clean, wash used channels, perform regular maintenance, and more.

Office and Administrative Work:
5 hours per week

      • Being a good farmer means knowing how to run a business well too. There are finances to manage, supplies to order, and other less instagram-worthy tasks to take care of.

Delivery and Sales:
10 hours per week

      • This will be one of the biggest variables depending on your business model. Do you have a lot of reliable customers making pickups from you? Lucky you! That might not take much time at all. However, if you need to make the rounds yourself, or especially if you’re selling direct to consumers at a farmers’ market, you may need to spend a lot of time on this. This will also take more time at the beginning, when you haven’t yet built relationships with regular purchasers.

In total, an average work week could take 40 hours or so. Depending on your expectations that might sound like a lot, or it might sound really low.

The most important point is that despite all the automation, running a farm is still a full time job! If you’re not going to be in the greenhouse yourself every day, you better make sure you have someone who will be.

Now we want to hear from you! How many work-hours a week does it take to run your farm? And what size is it? If we get enough answers we want to do a follow up post on social media to share the diversity of responses.

Good luck out there, and don’t forget that you can always reach out to us with any questions you might have!

If you have any questions about shipping, systems, or anything else, please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!
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