Why We Stopped then Restarted Growing Microgreens
When Nico and I first launched Lincoln Street Farm, we were all about microgreens. When I say we were all about these diminutive, edible plants, I mean our original plan was to sell them -- and nothing else. This may surprise people, especially ones who first encounter us on the farmers' market scene where we are becoming known for the sheer variety of our offerings.
Look, I don't want to say we're a one-stop shop (because we want you to stop at the shops of our fellow farmers too) but I can't deny we have some "one-stop shop" vibes going on. On any given day, we could be offering things to eat, grow, burn, smell, admire, cook with, put in your sock drawer, and/or rub all over your body.
And yet, yes. At one point, we intended to, basically, Johnny Microgreenseed this town of Salt Lake City. It was a plucky time called 2019 that predated our realization that Nico's affinity for soap- and candle-making is the main horse we should bet on. Or really, that we could bet on all sorts of horses. Who knows? Maybe lollipops with edible flowers will be our Seabiscuit. The horses are barely out of the gates...
Back then, we were all-in on microgreens, and we spent our days exuberantly learning the ways of micro farmers. Soon we were producing gorgeous microgreens ourselves. The fresh and delicate deliciousness of these munchable infants blew our minds, and our system started to come together. Beneath shop lights, 10x20-inch plastic trays brimmed with miniature leaves attached to miniature stems.
There were so many things that could go wrong. So much education that had to happen to convince people what this product even was and why they should want it. At times, it was as if we were bellowing "They're healthy and delicious -- just plop them on whatever you're eating and see for yourself!!!" into the abyss.
There was also their incredibly short shelf life to figure out. Microgreens are at their best when eaten and harvested on the same day -- or, at most, when eaten within a few days. So, to make it all work, everything would have to go perfectly, time-wise.
Not to mention, if we're being honest, there were only a few microgreen varieties that we were even that fond of. Pea shoots, arugula, and beet microgreens certainly have their moments, but one microgreen stands above all others, and few people know it for its potential as a green: the sunflower.
Nutty, crisp, flavorful and far more than a garnish, sunflowers really are the headliners of the microgreens show. They are magnificent on sandwiches and in salads. Personally, I think they are rarely better than when piled high atop a piece of buttered toast. This lets you appreciate them without too many competing flavors or textures.
And yet sunflower microgreens can be tricky. For starters, they have to be harvested in a certain window of time, and no later: when the first true leaves start to emerge. This is because only the stem and the seed leaf (or cotyledon) is good to eat while the first true leaves (the leaves that look how the rest of its leaves are going to look) are bitter.
And I can't not mention the annoying seed hulls. After sunflowers sprout, their seed casings (or hulls) cling to the seed leaves, and separating the hulls from the greens can be time-consuming and tedious.
With so many things to consider and the prospect of mass production and distribution seeming more daunting by the day, our microgreen dreams kind of disappeared into the mist. We decided to stop production briefly while we traveled to a 3-day Scrabble tournament I was competing at in Portland, but we never started back up when we returned to Salt Lake.
And then we sort of forgot about it, and Lincoln Street Farm morphed into something else entirely.
And so we're back in the microgreens game, folks! After all, we love the sunflower kind and we think others will too. These days, I get my morning motivation from more than just my mug of coffee.
I've also got my bagel with healthy, fresh, yummy sunflower microgreens to look foward to and give me that extra boost into Awakeland.
We've been selling them for the past few weeks at farmers' markets and are excited about the reception they're getting.
We're on the lookout for opportunities to get our greens into local restaurants, grocery stores, and onto YOUR plate. So please let Nico or I know if you have ideas on how we can bring the localest of local foods -- organically grown sunflower microgreens -- to the community we love.
We're pretty sure you'll catch the microgreens vision and never look back.