My bedroom closet is cluttered with grow lamps, grow medium, and other hydroponics supplies. There's no need to call the DEA; they are for the pepper I raise. Some articles on vertical farming inspired me to grow peppers hydroponically in my upstairs bathroom a couple of years ago. I used rudimentary materials and only harvested 3 peppers, but it was not bad for a first attempt. This year, I decided to delve further into the agriculture industry.
Once the winter ended, I bought rockwool, fertilizer, and a pH kit at a friendly hydroponics supply story in Rockland County, and I experimented with some designs for containers made from freecycled drink bottles. After mixing rockwool, fertilizer, and water, I adjusted the pH and planted this year's crop of pepper seed. The pepper plants that sprouted are growing nicely in my bedroom.
In addition to tinkering with the technical aspects of vertical farming, I wanted to make a system that was economically feasible. This requires starting a business as a vertical farmer. Registering a business is an early step for any aspiring entrepreneur. I went to 1 Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack to register my vertical farm as a business under my name. While there I got some helpful technical advice from the expert at the Rutgers Extension Service. Then I went to the websites for the New Jersey Division of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service to register my farm with those agencies.
Starting a business is relatively easy. Making it profitable is much more difficult. To become sustainable, a business needs to sell its product. That means I would need a license from the Health Department to sell my crops. I drove to the Bergen Country health department to inquire about getting the necessary license. The clerk there sent me to the Health Department office in New Milford which serves River Edge. That office told me to check with River Edge to see if farms were legal in my location before applying for a license to sell the produce.
Much to my disappointment, I learned that River Edge prohibits commercial farming on a residential property when I visited the River Edge Town Hall. So, my dreams of making an economically feasible farm were crushed. At least it's still legal for me to grow food at home for private consumption. Besides the peppers in my bedroom, there are newly planted blueberries and raspberries in the side yard. Once these crops bear fruit, I'll gladly share them for free. Just don't try to give me anything in return. I don't want to be hauled into court for growing with the intent to sell.