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pallen123's avatar

What's something profitable we can grow indoors besides dope (animal or vegetable)?

Asked by pallen123 (1514points) June 13th, 2009

What’s something lucrative we can grow indoors in the Midwest, in about 4000 square feet of warehouse space besides pot?

We have a software company occupying a warehouse adjacent to an empty affordable 4000 square foot warehouse in northern Ohio. What are some creative, potentially lucrative crops we might grow/develop in an indoor space (besides pot)? I’m thinking of things like crickets, ladybugs, mushrooms (non-hallucinogenic), algae (?), compost tea, moss?

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20 Answers

arnbev959's avatar

Anything that requires a lot of light is probably not profitable, as you’ll have to spend more money on equipment and energy than you’ll sell the product for.

Mushrooms would probably do well. They don’t require much light at all, as they don’t photosynthesize. And they’re probably relatively low maintenance.

crisw's avatar

Mushrooms need cool temperatures. They also require very high humidity, which isn’t the best for paint, plaster, etc.

Earthworms can be profitable, as you can sell both the worms and the compost.

SeventhSense's avatar


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

You can raise animals that are eventually made into fur coats and hats, like chinchillas and rabbits. Rabbit meat is a pretty common food item that people will pay for. Of course, don’t tell anyone on here that you are doing it, or you’ll be shunned for your selfish desire to profit from the suffering of your fellow earthlings.

Earthworms or any of the lower lifeforms, (crickets, hissing cockroaches, etc). are probably good; no one thinks bugs or earthworms are cuddly. PETA doesn’t give a flying turd about inhumane breeding and living conditions of earthworms and insects.

You could probably also raise mice and rats for people to feed to their pet snakes and such, but I’m sure you need permits for that, too. You’ll have to check your local laws before proceeding.

crisw's avatar


Obviously, you’ve never owned a chinchilla. Ginny and Piper are standing on their hind legs spraying you in effigy. :>P

OP- Don’t even think about it. Not only is it inhumane, it is a dying business (no pun intended!) There are hardly any chinchilla pelters left in the US (thank goodness)- the only real market for chins is as pets, Chins absolutely require that temperatures stay under 80 degrees F or they will die. They can’t tolerate high humidity. They are also prone, if poorly-bred, to a host of health problesm, from malocclusion to heart murmurs. You aren’t going to get rich breeding chins.

susanc's avatar

Mushrooms are a good idea. Get in touch with Paul Stamets, of Shelton, Washington,and see what he recommends.

SecondGlance's avatar

Anything organic would be very profitable. A simple hydroponic system and proper lighting will allow you to grow anything from red peppers, to tomatoes, to lettuce or celery. You could sell direct to consumers, although I would suggest selling to distributors, as it’s less hassle. The indoor environment will allow you to have a controlled and continuous output of produce, by staggering “planting” times. Distributors would absolutely love that reliability. It will also allow you to avoid pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals, and organic/natural produce is worth good money.

Animals are extremely high-maintenance. There’s always demand for produce.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

ohhh not those shrooms

crisw's avatar


We lease our land in WA (including 6000 SF of greenhouses) to an organic farmer. The market for organic veggies is way down right now, at least in the Pacific NW. The recession has closed many restaurants and caused many people to stop shopping at farmers markets and CSAs. Considering the startup and continuing costs for hydroponics, I’d look at the prospects for it as being pretty dim.

Kayak8's avatar

You could also create an artist space (depending on location, could include musician practice space). But sometimes folks just need studio space in which to create. Could charge by the day or the week . . .

SecondGlance's avatar

Great point @crisw.

I live in Canada, so the recession hasn’t nearly affected us like it has you folks. Since the question regards a building in Ohio, no doubt you’re right – they should look at something better targeted to the markets where they are.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

Mushrooms and penicillin. Can you replace the walls and ceiling with greenhouse plastic? That could greatly extend the growing season. Expect the price for the building to fall farther.

SeventhSense's avatar

Considering the startup and continuing costs for hydroponics, I’d look at the prospects for it as being pretty dim.
I disagree. People always have to eat and the demand for agriculture worldwide is only increasing. Think international and remember the economy will rebound. By the first quarter of 2010 we will be well into recovery. Much of the economic climate is a result of conjecture and fear. Things are improving.
Ohio is not the NW but closer to the NE which is where the majority of the population is in this country, including 8.5 million in NY and some of the largest international ports heading to Europe and beyond.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@SeventhSense There is no reason for any recovery to be big or last for long. Grow what we import if you can. The dollar is down and can be expected to keep falling.
Sure the economy could repair it’s self. There are many econmic bubble activities that have not been sorted out of the economy and new ones are forming. Until the economy is allowed to cleanse it’s self of these toxic activities we can’t expect a good recovery.
Food will be needed. Hire a farmer if you can.

SeventhSense's avatar

Grow what we import if you can.
And then export the surplus. We will rise again.

Darwin's avatar

If you are going to raise any sort of mammal or bird you will need USDA permits whether you are raising them to eat or to serve as pets. You may also need local health department permits and inspections.

Crickets and meal worms for feeding reptiles can be lucrative – there have been frequent feeder cricket shortages in in the past, and as recently as last year there was a major meal worm shortage. However, you would have to hire some experienced folks as it isn’t quite as easy to keep a healthy population going as folks think.

Otherwise you might consider climate-controlled storage units. While some infrastructure is needed (walls, doors, security) and a bit of cleaning is a good idea, Americans have so much junk that storage unit companies are doing really well.

SeventhSense's avatar

I’d hate to think of a mass escape of rodents or bugs in your house….ahhhhh

SecondGlance's avatar

We might want to veer back towards the original question…

“We have a software company…” This leads me to assume they aren’t looking to completely change industries and become a major commercial producer, or international exporter of something. It just sounds like they want a way to profit from space that is sitting unused.

In terms of something easy to sell, people need food regardless of what the economy is doing. And it can be pretty low maintenance. “Grow what we import if you can” is good advice.

To make this whole endeavor really easy, find out what’s in demand there in Ohio. Phone up some distributors and ask what they’d like more of. (Remember some things are imported because that’s cheaper than producing it at home, so research that aspect of it.)

@SeventhSense – I never said Ohio was in the northwest. Sorry for any confusion about that :)

walterallenhaxton's avatar

Dumpster dive like crazy to materials to make things out of and take them to the warehouse and make things that are useful out of them. Since you are interested in growing things make flower boxes to do it in. You will find many useful things. Pallets can be converted to fuel for woogas stoves which are a useful alternative to charcoal grills. Since the fuel needs to be reduced in size fuel of the correct size has value. You can not build complete projects from such things often but you can add hardware or what ever other missing part. I got a free refrigerator the other day. It had a bad motor so for 33$ I have a 400$ refrigerator.
Don’t limit yourself to only one thing. You do not know what will work so the more things you try the more likely you will find what you are looking for. Any business plan is transformed by what you learn as you do it.

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