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What are microgreens?

Microgreens are the darling children of the modern day menu: they’re beautiful to look at, incredibly nutrient-dense and, with a Homefarm system in place, extremely easy to grow on autopilot.

Before you explore our other article on how to grow your own microgreens, this article is a great starting point to really understand what microgreens are and how they benefit you.

Microgreens: a definition

Microgreens are the tiny-leaved colourful crops that are often used to decorate plates in restaurants. A ‘microgreen’ forms the first stage of a crop’s development as a seedling and a quick look at our crop catalogue will show you just how much variety there really is.

They can bring intense flavour to a meal, and they contain more nutrients per kg than most of their fully grown versions produced through commercial farming and supply chains.

Health benefits of microgreens

The upside of growing microgreens and microherbs at home is that they grow really quickly and  don’t take up much space — you can even grow them indoors. To be successful in growing microgreens indoors from the comfort and convenience of your home there are a number of things to consider along your home-growing microgreen journey. 

These include using a ‘grow light’, maintaining a moderate temperature range and using a good quality ‘grow medium’. Below we go into more detail on exactly what to consider if you are interested in growing these miraculous little crops at home.

What does it mean when we say microgreens are ‘nutrient-dense’?

Our medical practitioners often advise that we eat a balanced diet, and seek out the least processed sources of nutrients that our bodies need for optimum health from day-to-day, especially when we experience bouts of illness and we need to supplement our usual diets.

Microgreens are highly recommended as part of a healthy eating plan because for every gram of microgreens, there is a higher amount of beneficial compounds than there usually is in a matured food crop. Let’s take broccoli, for example. How hard do most parents have to try, to get children to eat vegetables like this? Broccoli microgreens, however, are far less intimidating to children and pack a stronger punch of nutritional value with every bite.

Beneficial compounds found in microgreens

In a recent study of ours on the nutritional value of microgreens, our team found that microgreens contained a range of vitamins, minerals and all-important fibre (for improved digestive function).

These compounds help to prevent certain illnesses or reduce their severity, should onset occur. They also help us manage our weight more effectively, and can have a positive effect on mental health over time (many of the same compounds are extracted for use in commercial medicine).

Microgreens also contain antioxidants which are known to clear free radicals from the body, which helps with both the prevention and treatment of several cancers.

Environmental benefits of using microgreens

Especially with a Homefarm system in place, microgreens grow quickly and without straining the environment. Growing them in your system at home or on-site at your restaurant, game lodge dining facility or corporate cafeteria reduces your company and supply chain’s carbon footprint; you don’t have to transport anything by car once the planting step is completed.

If you grow your own microgreens at home or on-site for your business, you also won’t need to rely on cold storage because you can harvest and immediately plate or use the ingredients for a recipe. It takes nothing more than a few minutes to move microgreens from farm to fork, when you use a Homefarm system.

Another critical environmental advantage is the reduced dependency on energy and water, per kilo of fresh produce harvested, when compared to traditional commercial farming methods.

Now that you know more about microgreens and some of their key benefits, it’s time to share this article and help spread the words about these incredible food crops and how to grow them.

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Petre, A. 2023. Microgreens: all you ever wanted to know. Healthline. Article online. Last updated 7 July 2023. Available at: [Last accessed 17 August 2023].

Ware, M. 2023. Health benefits of microgreens. Medical news today. Article online. Medically reviewed by Warwick, KW. Updated 28 July 2023. Available at: [Last accessed 17 August 2023].

WebMD Editorial Contributors, 2023. What to know about microgreens. WebMD. Article online. Reviewed by Mikstas, C. Last updated 10 July 2023. Available at: [Last accessed 17 August 2023].

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microgreens in
South Africa

Growing microgreens in South Africa

Microgreens are taking the South African food industry by storm. In fact, you’ve probably already had them at your local restaurant or seen them in little plastic punnets at a nearby grocery store. They’re typically quite small, range in colour and are loved by chefs, foodies and healthy eaters because they’re supremely good for you, beautiful to look at and extremely tasty! 

In 2019, the Mail & Guardian went so far as to liken microgreens to the magical chewing gum from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, for their ability to pack a real punch of flavour in such tiny morsels. Even Farmer’s Weekly, in 2020, promoted microgreens as “a tiny crop with big returns”.

According to Straits Research (2023), South Africa’s microgreens market size is expected to reach US$22mil by 2031. While the market grows, innovations like Homefarm’s indoor farming systems will enable the start of microscale agribusinesses, creating jobs and enriching the supply chain.

Where can you find microgreens?

When not enjoyed at your favourite restaurant, microgreens can be purchased from most food retailers to be enjoyed at home. Another way of sourcing microgreens and enjoying them at home is by growing them yourself.

Challenges and solutions for growing your own microgreens

The upside of growing microgreens and microherbs at home is that they grow really quickly and  don’t take up much space — you can even grow them indoors. To be successful in growing microgreens indoors from the comfort and convenience of your home there are a number of things to consider along your home-growing microgreen journey. 

These include using a ‘grow light’, maintaining a moderate temperature range and using a good quality ‘grow medium’. Below we go into more detail on exactly what to consider if you are interested in growing these miraculous little crops at home.

Choosing a grow medium

  • Microgreens can be grown on a range of different grow media including:

    • Coconut coir

    • Peat moss

    • Germination mix

    • Hemp, Bamboo or Jute ‘grow mats’

    Your irrigation method will influence your choice of grow media but it’s also important to have good aeration.

​​Potting your grow medium

Once you’ve chosen the grow medium, you need a container to house it. Anything from a shallow tupperware to an old ice cream tub could work.

  • Make holes in the bottom of your selected container, roughly 5mm in diameter. You can punch the holes through the container material using a nail or the tip of a soldering iron if you feel like being fancy.
  • Make about 10 holes, spaced evenly over the bottom surface — please ask someone to help you if necessary: safety first.
  • Place a piece of paper towel at the bottom of the container to prevent the grow medium from falling through the holes you’ve created.
  • Now you can fill your container up roughly two thirds of the way to the top, with your grow medium.

Sowing your microgreens seeds

Evenly scatter your microgreens seeds across the top of your grow medium.

If you’re measuring everything out precisely, you can use 0.03g of seeds per cm2 of surface area over your grow medium, for the following kinds of microherbs:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Kohlrabi

Be careful not to clump too many seeds too close to each other during this process.

Light source

If you want your microgreens to grow into straight, healthy and strong crops then simply leaving them in a sunny room or on a window shelf won’t do.


Microgreens need a light source above the canopy, that’s neither too close nor too far away, for up to 14 hours daily. Because of this, it’s worth considering supplementary lighting, such as fluorescent lights or LEDs.


If your lighting conditions are not just right, your microgreens will grow in an elongated form with tiny leaves — a phenomenon known as ‘bolting’. When crops bolt, they concentrate growing energy into their stems so that they can get closer to their light source.


Watering your microgreens, as with any crop, is a vital part of the process. Miss a day and your beautiful microgreen crop can wilt, flop over and even die. Watering is probably the most time-consuming part of the process, usually requiring that you be present and manually water the crops.

Your crops will most likely need to be watered every other day, so if you’re planning a holiday or long weekend away make sure to have a neighbour or a friend tend to your crop!

Temperature and humidity

The ideal temperature for growing your microgreens is between 18-24°C, with relative humidity under 80%.

An indoor growing environment is much easier to regulate, in terms of temperature, and prevents exposure to extreme cold which can inhibit germination and stall the growth rate of your crops.

How exactly is Homefarm superior for growing microgreens?

While you can successfully grow microgreens by following the method in this article, if you are serious about growing premium quality produce on a consistent basis for yourself, your family or business, then investing in a Homefarm system should be considered.

There are several ways in which the Homefarm systems enable successful and sustainable growth of microgreens:

  • Fully automated watering and lighting cycles
  • Soil-based hydroponics with water-retaining grow media
  • Minimal attention required and all systems work with a mobile app
  • Organic, pest-free, pesticide-free crops throughout the year
  • Enjoy the first harvest within just 12 days
  • No single-use plastics involved

All Homefarm systems automatically work around loadshedding (rolling power cuts) which makes it even easier to grow crops to a successful harvest.

Homefarm Nano

With four grow trays and a sleek structure, the Homefarm Nano is ideal for smaller kitchens and bachelor pads. It offers quick and easy access to your microgreens so you can go from farm to fork in minutes.

Homefarm Appliance

This system can be built into your kitchen cabinetry or it can be displayed on your countertop. The perspex doors give the system a chic appearance and create a frame for your living art inside: your food crops.

The standard Homefarm Appliance comes with eight grow trays so you can grow a wider variety and enjoy consistent access to your favourite microgreens without any disruptions to your supply.

Homefarm Commercial

The Homefarm Small Commercial System is ideal for startups and large families using up to 5kg of microgreens per month. It takes 1m2 of floor space and can connect to your water mains.

The Homefarm Large Commercial System produces up to 15kg of microgreens monthly and is better suited to larger establishments like busy cafeterias, restaurants and remotely located hotels and game lodges that have a tough time accessing a consistent supply of superior quality microgreens.

Homefarm’s range of microgreens

Microgreens are highly nutritious and flavourful; they contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You can harvest microgreens 7-14 days after germination, when both cotyledon leaves completely develop. 

Homefarm’s standard catalogue of microgreens includes:

  • Broccoli
  • Daikon radish
  • Green mustard
  • Mixed leaf micros (assorted microgreens for richer flavour and nutritional value)
  • Mizuna
  • Nasturtium
  • Pak Choi
  • Peas
  • Purple kohlrabi
  • Red amaranth
  • Red kale
  • Red mizuna
  • Red swiss chard
  • Rocket
  • Sprouting onion
  • Sunflower
  • Wheatgrass

Apart from the wide range of microgreens that can be grown in a Homefarm system, when harvested their aroma and taste is noticeably better than mass-produced microgreens often sold at supermarkets (at an exorbitant price per kg in comparison).

Homefarm isn’t merely enabling the growth of microgreens, but going beyond the basics to enable the growth of premium quality microgreens that pack a punch in terms of nutritional value and flavour.

The proof is in the harvest

Growing microgreens at home can be an extremely rewarding process. It can provide you with highly nutritious, delicious produce for you and your family all year round. 

It always brings us joy to hear how effective our Homefarm systems are for our customers. Here are some testimonials from happy members of the Homefarm client community:

‘’Homefarm is an aesthetically pleasing addition to our kitchen and has brought a fun element into our home. Once our crops start germinating and bursts of green emerge from the grow trays, I know that our crops will be a healthy, organic and much-loved addition to every meal.’’
— Clare
‘’As a young parent, it was difficult for me to get my young kids to eat green foods, especially lettuce and spinach. But with our Homefarm, they pick these greens themselves and decorate their plates. So cool!’’

— Petra


Botha, 2020. Microgreens: a tiny crop with big returns. Farmer’s weekly. Article online. 25 March. Available at: [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Living Seeds. 2023. Growing microgreens. Web page online. Available at:,trays%20for%20a%20continued%20harvest. [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Singh, N. 2019. Chefs switch to mini dynamos. Mail&Guardian. Article online. Available at:,than%20a%20passing%20foodie%20trend. [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Straits Research. (2023). South Africa Microgreens Market. Available at:,period%20(2022%2D2031). (Date Accessed: 30 June 2023). 

South African Smallholder. Growing Microgreens For Profit. (2023). Available at [Last accessed: 28 June 2023].

Sprout People. Tatsoi Micro-Greens. Available at: [Last accessed: 30 June 2023].

TRENDING MICROGREENS GROW YOUR OWN MICROGREENS – HERE’S HOW: Available at: (Date Accessed: 29 June 2023). 

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Homefarm helps you overcome the limits of winter gardening

Homefarm helps you overcome the limits of winter gardening

For centuries, commercial farmers and home gardeners have planned around and been at the mercy of the seasons. As we know, different crops grow better at different times of the year depending on their natural climatic needs. For centuries this has affected when and what different nations eat and has driven trade across the globe.

Industrialisation and globalisation have redefined farming operations

Globalisation and modern consumer demands have seen markets find ways of supplying exotic (non-indigenous) and out-of-season produce. Fruit and vegetables are shipped across long distances, often to completely different climatic zones from where they were grown, and commercial farmers have found innovative ways of growing crops out of traditional seasons.

In the pursuit of finding better ways to supply foods all year round, and diminishing the need to import foods from far away, farmers and technologists have developed ways of growing more foods more locally throughout the year. 

Greenhouses, tunnels and more recently indoor farming systems enable farmers to be more productive throughout the year, particularly during the winter months or during periods of adverse climate. Berries, peppers, herbs and lettuces are just some of the crops which are grown by commercial farmers in winter using greenhouses, tunnels and indoor farms. 

These sorts of solutions have in the past only been available to commercial farmers or those with large amounts of capital to deploy. This can leave many small scale and subsistence farmers, as well as home growers, vulnerable and unproductive during winter.

Let Homefarm help you overcome seasonal limitations

Thanks to our Homefarm systems, there is now a way for small scale farmers, home gardeners and small businesses to successfully grow more of their leafy produce in winter. By moving their herb gardens indoors, and using a Homefarm system, they can better regulate the temperature of their garden and enjoy yields throughout the year.

What’s more, they can get ahead of their early spring outdoor planting schedule by using a Homefarm system as a nursery to propagate fruit and veggie seedlings ahead of time. 

Depending on how you plan your produce or what your volume demand is for seedlings, there will be a Homefarm system to suit you.

Our current range allows you to grow anywhere from 500g-15kg per month. Our largest system can also produce up to 3500 seedlings per month.

Key advantages of using a Homefarm system for small scale farming and food gardening

  • Winter food gardening and farming
    Move your operation indoors during the winter months and sustain your family, community or business with fresh produce all year round.
  • Supplement your outdoor garden
    Increase the variety of crops you grow all year round. Grow fresh produce such as herbs, microgreens and lettuces, which thrive in an indoor or sheltered space. Use your Homefarm to propagate seedlings and get ahead of your regular planting schedule each year.
  • All natural and fully automated
    Homefarm systems are not hydroponic. Homefarm crops are grown using a fully natural substrate grow media with beneficial nutrient properties. Used grow media is 100% compostable. Homefarm systems are fully automated and utilize watering and supplementary lighting cycles to eliminate most of the work related to a traditional outdoor food garden.
  • Loadshedding-friendly
  • Homefarm systems have been designed, developed and tested in South Africa. They are built to withstand the challenges of loadshedding, and incorporate a range of features which protect your crops from frequent power outages.*

*All systems automatically accommodate for loadshedding in relation to lighting and irrigation cycles; built-in surge protection is currently only available for Appliance and Commercial systems. For more information, please speak directly with a Homefarm consultant.

Winter-worthy microgreens recipes

While you’re mulling over your decision, try these tantalising microgreens recipes.

If you’re struggling to source microgreens this winter, perhaps it’s time to find the right Homefarm system for you.

Sour dough toast avo and microgreens – enjoy a fresh and light meal – perfect for your lunch or supper.

Carrot microgreen salad – this dish just pops with colour.

Enjoy making these delicious dishes this winter.


Carey, H. 8 Undeniable Reasons We Should All Be Eating Seasonal Foods. Available at:,air%20pollution%2C%20and%20global%20warming. (Accessed: 30 April 2023).

Haas, S. (RDN, LDN). (2023). What Is Seasonal Food? Your Complete Guide to Shopping, Growing, and Cooking Seasonally. Available at: (Accessed: 30 April 2023).

Russo, J. Pros & Cons of Growing Your Own Fruits & Vegetables. Available at: (Accessed: 1 May 2023).

Sourdough Avocado Toast with Microgreens. (2014-2023). Available at: (Accessed: 12 May 2023).

Walthers, C. Carrot and Microgreen Salad. Available at: (Accessed: 12 May 2023).

WebMD Editorial Contributors. (2005-2023). What to Know About Seasonal Eating. Available at: (Accessed: 30 April 2023).

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Health benefits and uses of Homefarm Microgreens

Health benefits and uses of Homefarm Microgreens

In this series we will be sharing our research on the nutritional value and uses of Homefarm leafy crops. Microgreens and microherbs are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients and are an excellent way to get your daily fix of the good stuff your body needs.

In this blog article we explore 3 crops; Red Swiss Chard microgreen, Basil and Kale microgreen.

Red Swiss Chard Microgreen

Quick facts

  • These tasty shoots are sweet, with an earthy aftertaste that makes an exciting addition to sandwiches, wraps and salads.
  • Red Swiss chard contains vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc.
  • Red Swiss chard microgreens are best eaten as a young plant before the first set of true leaves appear.

Nutritional value of Red Swiss Chard

100g of raw red Swiss chard contains:

Uses of Red Swiss Chard

Red Swiss chard has a beautiful earthy flavour reminiscent of a young mild beetroot leaf. Add Red Swiss Chard to a Potato salad or use it to garnish a soup, leafy salad or piece of steak. Its striking colours will elevate the visual appeal of any plate of food and when paired correctly, its earthy tones will enhance, highlight and elevate the flavours of a dish.


Quick facts

  • Basil is a sweet-tasting aromatic herb that has a scent of pepper, anise and mint.
  • Basil is used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. 
  • Basil has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • It boosts your immune system and strengthens blood vessels.

Nutritional value of Basil

100g of raw basil contains:

Read our Note and Disclaimer at the end of the article on the Nutritional value of Basil.

Uses of Basil

Basil is the undisputed king of herbs. It is used extensively in italian and thai cuisine. It pairs beautifully with tomato whether it be in pasta sauces or on a caprese sald and its sweet aromatic nature makes it a common ingredient in thai curries too. The Homefarm system grows a variety of different types of basil including green basil, purple basil and lemon basil.

Kale Microgreens

Quick facts

  • Kale microgreens are high in fibre and assist in promoting a healthy digestive tract.
  • It’s considered a superfood and has a very high concentration of antioxidants and vitamin C
  • Kale is a member of the cabbage family and its microgreen has a mild cabbage flavour, found to be more pleasant than its bitter, fully grown counterpart.

Nutritional value of Kale microgreens

100g of boiled kale contains:

*Read our Note and Disclaimer at the end of the article on the Nutritional value of Kale microgreen.

Uses of Kale Microgreens

Kale can be used as a classic microgreen garnish or as a superfood boost in your favourite smoothie. A great smoothie recipe includes green apple, kiwi fruit, kale microgreens, a squeeze of lime juice and a few tablespoons of plain yoghurt. 

We hope you enjoy creating delicious dishes from these crops, grown and harvested in your very own Homefarm system.

Homefarm systems enable people to make healthier lifestyle choices every day.

Homefarm systems are smart, fully automated indoor farms that can grow a wide range of crops from seed to harvest, year round.

  • The Homefarm Appliance and Nano are perfect for hobby gardeners, health and wellness gurus and passionate foodies.
    • The Homefarm Nano is designed for smaller kitchens and is ideal for growing leafy greens at home.
    • The Homefarm Appliance can either be proudly displayed on a countertop or built into your kitchen cabinetry. Wow your family with delicious meals with greens harvested in your Homefarm system.
  • Homefarm Commercial systems are ideal for restaurants, food retailers, educational institutions, catering companies and corporate cafeterias.


Dolson, L. (2023). Swiss Chard Nutrition Information and Health Benefits. Available at: (Accessed: 4 June 2023). 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. Basil, fresh. Available at: (Accessed: 6 June 2023). 

Ware, M. (RDN, L.D.). 2023. What are the health benefits of kale? Available at: (Accessed: 7 June 2023).

Note: The information provided is intended for general informational purposes only.

Full disclaimer: 

The information provided is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or dietary requirements.

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Homefarm systems align with national parks legislation

Homefarm systems align with national parks legislation

A closer look at Botswana’s protected habitats.

Homefarm systems align with national parks legislation

Imagine a world where fresh, sustainably grown produce is just a doorstep away, regardless of the constraints imposed by geography or climate.

Our Homefarm Commercial systems are being used across South Africa, and abroad, to cultivate leafy produce in just about any environment, including remotely located lodges in highly regulated areas, like proclaimed game reserves and national parks.

A closer look at Botswana’s protected habitats

We recently commissioned a study and review of Botswana’s Wildlife Conservation and National Parks. Act (1992) and the United Nations compliant Plant Protection Act (2009) indicates that the Homefarm Commercial System can be used to grow leafy greens in protected reserves.

The indoor system mitigates against attracting wildlife and crops don’t grow all the way to seed, so they won’t propagate themselves unchecked.

It’s important that regulations can be adhered to in protected natural areas, which is why this article goes into further detail about the way that Homefarm systems achieve this.

What’s actually regulated in a conservation area?

Managing and maintaining protected areas can be a lot more complex than most of us realise.

The use of food crop seeds is severely regulated, as well as growing media. It makes it difficult for the remotely located restaurants (particularly those situated in protected national parks and conservation sites) to develop a sustainable and stable supply of fresh produce by growing anything on site.

Homefarm complies with conservation regulations

The table below outlines a number of specific regulations within Botswana, and the corresponding features of our Homefarm systems, which highlight our products’ compliance to operate in lodges situated in Botswana. 

It should be noted that regulations and laws referenced in this article relate to outdoor planting of food crops in protected areas, and that no specifications could be found yet for indoor food farming.

Important points to consider

All seeds supplied should be used to grow food on the Homefarm System. Seed quantities are carefully curated and supplied to be compatible with the Homefarm grow system. Seeds supplied should not be used to grow outdoors. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry and dark environment indoors. 

Before importing a Homefarm system from South Africa into Botswana, we encourage that you visit your local import office for updated legislation. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to consult one of our friendly experts. Simply use our contact form to get in touch and one of our team members will contact you directly.

In conclusion, following on from research completed for several clients enquiring from within Botswana’s premium nature reserves, we have confirmed that Homefarm systems are fully compliant with national parks legislation.


Government of Botswana. 2009. Plant protection regulations. Chapter 35:02: Plant protection: subsidiary legislation (index to subsidiary legislation). Available online at: [Last accessed: 9 July 2023]

Government of Botswana. 1998. Wildlife conservation and national parks act of 1992. Chapter 38:01: wildlife conservation and national parks. Available online at:,%2028%20OF%201992.pdf [Last accessed: 9 July 2023]

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