Ukrainian Veteran Starts Microgreen Farming
Our story is about a man who spent 20 years in the military, two of them at war, and then reinvented himself by microfarming. Our reporters in Dnipro visited the startup farm for a firsthand look
His military awards and gifts are in a bedside table, the uniform is in a closet.
Three years ago, the professional military, an officer with twenty years of experience, Mykhaylo Chumachenko, decided to drastically change his life. After two years at war in Donbas, he left the army. For a long time, he looked for a new occupation that would be fulfilling. And eventually decided to become an urban farmer.
“This is the 3rd degree Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Order. I was awarded it in October 2014. The watch is a gift from my fellow soldiers,” owner of the microform Mykhaylo Chumachenko said.
“Here we’ve got beetroot, onion, basil. Sango radish, purple radish, and Chinese radish,” he said.
Altogether 14 different plants. Chumachenko’s microgreen farm is for now based in the kitchen of his apartment.
“The light here is special, red and blue. The ratio of three red LEDs to one blue LED. It is considered an optimal combination of colors for the root system to develop well and the greens to grow,” Chumachenko said.
Chumachenko studied the intricacies of urban farming on his own. He also took a special government career training course for Donbas war veterans and the displaced. There he studied the basics of economics, marketing, and advertising. Now he is trying to grow his new business.
“At first, there was a desire to try and apply myself. Actually, at first, I wanted to do large-scale farming, to grow large greens. So I began reading, learning about it and little by little came to an idea that microgreen farming has better prospects at this stage. And so I wrote a business plan,” Chumachenko said.
While Mykhaylo is looking for markets to sell his produce, friends and relatives are providing valuable early feedback.
“I like sunflowers and peas. Instead of salads, for all sorts of holidays, it really decorates the festive table,” Darya Chyzhyk, Mykhaylo Chumachenko’s daughter, said.
Mykhaylo Chumachenko’s immediate plans are to expand his farm. He has already found suitable premises. Within the next two weeks, he is to receive €1,000 worth of equipment as part of the program for which he applied and presented his business plan.