What are "Microgreens"?
Though markets have been online this season, and we miss you all dearly, these are two questions I used to get all the time at in-person markets. Thought it might be useful to have the answers readily available here in our blog :) So here goes!
Microgreens are simply very, very young plants. They are the edible cotyledons (first tiny leaves that appear from a germinating seed) of a variety of vegetables. We harvest these truly "micro" greens after 12-24 days depending on the variety, with some varieties that take longer grown until the first "true" leaf emerges from the cotyledon. Microgreens are planted densely in trays meant to be harvested at this early stage and as a result, taken together, are very flavourful, nutritionally dense very young greens of a variety of vegetables.
Why grow them?
They Provide Healthy, Delicious Sustainably Grown Food Year-Round!
Since microgreens taste just like the vegetables/herbs they would later become they are an absolutely delicious and unique addition to the table. Recent study after study confirms their incredible nutrient profiles and suitability to the current context of needing to produce more nutrient dense food closer to home. Microgreens fit the bill!
We are located in the eastern Ontario region of Canada, so we can only grow our veggies, herbs and produce outdoors typically May - October, but with micros in the mix we can grow fresh, healthy food year-round.
From November-April we use an indoor growing room with LED lights (which use very little energy), and have developed a very efficient system that uses simple inputs like organic seed and soil, and a minimal amount of water.
In a 2017 study by the National Institute of Health, broccoli microgreens grown in compost were found to have a greater mineral content than their full-grown counterpart and required 158-236 times less water to grow, and of course require no fertilizer, pesticide, or energy-demanding transport from farms far away (as would be necessary for Canada in the winter-time!).
This means we can produce excellent quality fresh greens - including herbs like dill and cilantro, best-sellers like pea and sunflower shoots, as well as broccoli, a variety of radishes, mustard and so many more for our local markets year-round in a sustainable way. We also use these micros in our juices, fresh bowls, dips and more extending their usefulness beyond direct sales and translating them into value-added products for our farm.
For more information on this incredibly interesting topic please see "Broccoli Microgreens: A Mineral-Rich Crop that Can Diversify Food Systems" at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362588/