Moringa is quickly rising to the the top of the superfood market. There has been a large push for moringa as a solution to third-world malnutrition, not only because it has the most variety and quantity of nutrients for any known leaf, but also is drought tolerant, nitrogen-fixing, and can pioneer areas for the growing of additional crops.
Recently it has gained popularity in the United States health and vegan communities. With this plant, the more people know about it, the more they love it.
- Sustainable Revenue: For the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage to continue their work a stable source of income is essential. A Moringa farm long-term would require no outside resources and would be self-sufficient immediately after the necessary infrastructure has been installed.
- Public Good: Making Moringa more accessible, affordable, and known, would not only alleviate malnutrition in the area but also makes a vegan diet more accessible, affordable, and informed
- We have chosen a unique compost heated greenhouse designed specifically for growing Moringa in our Zone 7 temperate climate, for efficiency, sustainability, and affordability
- The grow facility will consist of a greenhouse, nursery station, and surrounding rows of moringa polyculture beds.
Due to the innovative design of the greenhouse, and the unknowns that come with pioneering commercial Moringa growth in the Ozarks some factors cannot be defined until after some testing, observation, and experimentation that JV is already engaged in. The results of these experiments could yield a superior technique for overwintering the field Moringa.
This unique greenhouse model has been created from adapting, combining, and improving existing successful models.
Straw/hay-bales and wood chips are used to insulate the walls of the greenhouse and provide a radiating compost heat to keep the greenhouse warm during the winter. The following spring the compost generated from the decomposed straw & wood chips is then used to fertilize & mulch the surrounding outdoor beds as well as in the greenhouse.
This element of the design eliminates the need for an additional heat source as well as providing the necessary functions of soil-crafting, mulching, and composting that would need to be done regardless. This places all the materials we need immediately in zone 1 of the grow operation preventing the laborious and time consuming task of hauling materials from elsewhere on the property. The necessary resources for this yearly maintenance can be sourced from the Event Center property itself or can be brought in depending on level of desired convenience and accessibility.
On top of the compost pile encompassing the greenhouse comfrey, marigolds, and red clover will be grown. The comfrey provides additional fertilizer/biomass, ground cover, accumulates potassium (an essential plant nutrient), and is easily propagated to produce transplants that can be sold for additional revenue, or transplanted to other appropriate locations on the farm. The marigold provides a pest control function, provides pollinators with nectar, and can be propagated for live plant or seed sale. The red-clover fixes nitrogen into the pile to accelerate the composting. Additional nitrogen may need to be supplemented for adequate heat generation. This nitrogen can be sourced from urine, coffee grounds, bio-char, or one of the many other non-animal sourced nitrogen containing resource.
The Moringa trees in the greenhouse will act as mother plants to provide seeds for next years field planting, as well as produce moringa for harvesting all year long.
In the field Moringa beds nasturtium, marigolds, comfrey, and shiitake logs make up the essential support guild. Other biological components can be introduced for additional biodiversity and functions, which then adds to the stability of the ecosystem and reduction of pests. Other helpful plants to consider would be calendula, wormwood, tobacco, or any other biomass accumulator/insectary plant. The nasturtium and marigolds combat pests by merely growing in the system but can also be made into compost tea for a sprayable pesticide for more serious infestations, such as a greenhouse outbreak of aphids, etc. The comfrey and shiitake logs complete the soil nutrient cycle. Moringa is nitrogen-fixing, comfrey accumulates potassium, and other heavy elements from below the topsoil, while the shiitake logs return a variety of nutrients to the soil in addition to providing a valuable crop yield.
The field moringa presents our first unknown factor. Moringa can be grown effectively as an annual in a temperate climate, but our hope is to develop a method to overwinter the moringa so it can return next year without having to be replanted. This overwintering will be attempted using heavy mulching, wind-blocking, sun-trapping, and possibly structural additions such as hot-caps or cold frames.
Currently we have moringas planted in the ground in a variety of conditions and bed types. I suspect that the Moringa growing in hugelkultur beds in a wind-blocked location will be able to overwinter. Temperature tests can be done to locate our best heat sink locations, or structural additions can be implemented to create a heat sink.
(Vision images not to precise dimensions or directional orient)
- This operation can easily be modified to accommodate the growth of an additional crop to ensure a diversity of yields.
- The current grow facility placement has it next to the proposed site of the secondary pond. If this pond is built in the planned location it would provide an incredible heat sink, and generate atmosphere that would be of great benefit to the grow facility and farm.
Grow Facility Complete
There are a range of budgets and correlating levels of efficiency and long-term self-sufficiency. Once VUE has chosen some specifications for the facility, the estimates can be provided. Location, Size, and Style are the major factors relative to cost.
Crop Planted & Harvested
A unique Permaculture moringa farming guide and strategy has been developed to grow moringa using the most information, innovation, and synergistic design possible to achieve high yields for low inputs and ensuring that design management requires no outside resources.
Packaging & Distribution
Biodesic Strategies can either work with you to do the product labeling, graphic design and packaging internally, or provide you with reference to several skilled graphic designers and producers.
Marketing Moringa is made easy because the science, tradition, and testimony speaks for itself. Moringa can be promoted from several angles:
- Prevents malnutrition thus reducing illness
- Unique vegan food source containing all the essential amino-acids along with B12 and other nutrients commonly found in animal protein
- Saplings can be sold as outdoor annuals, or potted perennials that must be protected in the winter. They are drought resistant, fast growing, and nitrogen-fixing
- Can be sold fresh, powdered, in liquid concentrate/tea form, and frozen
- Tap into fitness/health junky market through Natural Grocery Stores, Gyms of various activities, local smoothie/juice shops (Berry Natural & Native Nectar), restaurants that specialize in healthy food, and the farmers market.
One Time Expenditures
- Greenhouse Structure $500-$3,000
12 - 9 foot galvanized steel poles (Wooden beams could be used for a cheaper but less sustainable structure)
Greenhouse Plastic (Cheaper but would need replaced) or Polycarbonate twinwall sheets (more expensive but last longer
Welding materials, or connectors
- Nursery Equipment $300-$1,000
Gravity fed watering system
Planters, tools, rooting hormone
- Additional Moringa Seeds $50
Additional varieties of Moringa seed for hybridization
Product Label Designs $75
- Packaging & Labels 0-$200/yr
- Straw-bales $0-$200/yr
- Wood Mulch $0-200$/yr
Total Starting Budget: $1,000-$5,000
Yearly Operational Expenses: $0-$600