Cost dynamics of setting up a rooftop Kitchen Garden – Part 1

We get frequent queries from our readers on the cost dynamics of setting up a Kitchen Garden on their terrace.

If put to good use, an empty terrace space can act as a source of engagement for the homemaker and elderly at home. It can also help in generating some additional income, but more than the income, the amount of confidence and feeling of self-worth it can generate for the stay-at-home family member could be a reason enough to undertake such a pursuit.

With that intent in mind, we tried to determine the cost-dynamics of a setting up and maintaining a terrace garden. Through this post, we will share the results of that exercise with you. If it can help some of you decide and take the plunge, we will feel our efforts were well justified.

For the sake of this exercise, since we are also contemplating the potential of producing food for generating revenue, we will only consider a closed environment or a Mini-Greenhouse. Also, to be as close to reality as possible, we will take data based on the 300 sq. Ft. Urban Gardening Research Center that we have set-up on our terrace office in Bangalore.

Set-up Cost:
We will divide the set-up cost into 3 distinct components, viz Cost of Expertise, Cost of Outer Structure, and Cost of Grow Structures inside the greenhouse.

Cost of Expertise: This is the cost that you will incur if you plan to get an experienced professional to design your kitchen garden, help you set it up, and train you on growing, and maintaining the plants.

Cost of Outer Structure: This is the cost for the Mini-Greenhouse. This will vary based on the kind of set-up, the quality and quantity of inputs, and charges for the labor involved. This will be site specific. For example, if you have a wall that can act as one of the sides or if Green House supports can be attached to a concrete railing/balcony, the cost will be lower. The expenditure will be maximum for a standalone greenhouse not connected to any side wall or railings or to the roof itself (like the one we have set-up in our office).

Before getting into the next cost element, let us understand the concept of growing area vs. floor area.

Growing Area to Floor Area Ratio: Let’s say you place 1 pot (of 1 sq feet) in every 4 sq. Feet of terrace area (to allow space for walking, and to give room to plants to spread out), the actual growing area will be 25% of floor area.

In terrace conditions, you should be able to get between 50% to 60% of growing area (as measured against floor area). Anything above 60, you have done an excellent job.

Having understood the concept, we can now delve into the third cost element.

Cost of Grow Structure: This cost will also vary depending upon the material used and the layout planned. One can go for simple grow bags placed on the terrace, or a multitude of fancy pots, or a custom designed waterproof structure. We went for a custom designed multi-layered, eco-friendly, wood-based, waterproof frames. These are definitely costlier than the alternatives, but the objectives we had with our Research center needed specific custom-build elements.

In our case, including all the three elements above, it cost us 377 INR p.s.f. (However, we got a growing area of 295 sq. ft, a growing area to floor area ratio of 98%). For a simple household case, the max it may cost to set-up the Terrace Garden would be Rs. 300 INR p.s.f. of floor area. That is the upper bound, you can work with a range of Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 p.s.f. as the cost for setting up of a terrace garden of approx 300 sq. Ft.

Thus, a 300 sq. Ft. terrace garden in a Green House set-up will cost between Rs. 75,000 and Rs. 90,000 at current prices.

In the next part of this article, we will cover the cost of growing plants and the revenue generating potential.

Happy Gardening!

Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.

He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.

1 thought on “Cost dynamics of setting up a rooftop Kitchen Garden – Part 1

  • K Venkat Raghuveer says:

    Good day to you. I’ve been contemplating to start a terrace hydroponic vegetable garden of my own for quite some time. I think I can reach out to you in making my dream come true.
    I have a terrace of about 400 sft., but the workable space is only between 200 and 250 sft. I’d like to set-up a hydroponic veggie garden for my personal use.
    If this works out well in terms of produce and economics, I’d like to scale-up to a commercial project.
    I had also mailed to you few minutes ago.
    Hope I’d get to hear from you ASAP.
    Thanks and regards

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