Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847.391.1004.
Microgreens — Take Them or Leaf Them
Vegetable producers, health-minded consumers and many inventive chefs have realized the advantages of microgreens — tiny leaves of vegetable plants less than 14 days old. Microgreens, which are smaller than "baby greens" and harvested later than sprouts, offer intense flavor and vibrant color, and add an appealing touch to garnishes for salads, sandwiches and soups. Whether they're spinach, arugula, beet or lettuce, microgreens are believed to be exceptionally nutritious, even more so than the "baby" versions of these vegetables.
CropKing, Inc., an Ohio-based company specializing in controlled environment agriculture equipment and training, manufactures a microgreen growing system that utilizes an efficient method of growing that uses less labor and water. Microgreens grown in this type of system are of consistent quantity and quality, and are available all year long in any climate!
Marilyn Brentlinger, general manager and partial owner of CropKing says there is already a market for microgreens. "Many of CropKing's hydroponic customers are successfully cultivating and selling microgreens to area markets and local chefs, and many are delivering the greens in the tray that they're grown in — a great farm to consumer concept!"
Are you growing microgreens? Or are they a future prospect for your business? I have definitely noticed a demand recently for these mini salad fixings at the local markets in my area, and I don't see the trend going away anytime soon. What is your experience with microgreens? Shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com, and tell me about it. I'd love to hear from you!
Central Detroit Christian's (CDC) Farm and Fishery is not only the city's first functioning aquaponics operation but also the first agriculture business to receive a special land use permit authorized under the city's recently adopted Urban Agriculture Ordinance. CDC purchased a building that once housed a party store and converted it into a two-level aquaponics operation where plants and fish are cultivated simultaneously. Rows of beer coolers and shelves were removed to make way for hydroponic beds for growing herbs and vegetables. Today, 90 percent of the beds are filled with basil. "Basil and microgreens are tremendesly lucrative," says Anthony Hatinger, production and garden manager.
A new breed of innovations is changing the way gardening is done, at least for hydroponic gardeners. A new device, Bitponics, allows gardeners to simply log on to their account online and automate their entire hydroponic gardening process. The device has sensors that are placed into the system's reservoir. The sensors feed data on pH, temperature and moisture levels to the Bitponics cloud wirelessly. Gardeners are then notified via text or e-mail about their crops' progress. "Bitponics is a path into the future of urban home gardening," says Bitponics co-founder and head hardware engineer Michael Zick Doherty. According to Doherty, growing hydroponically creates an educational experience that allows gardeners to connect with what they eat and empowering them to eat healthy while protecting the environment.
The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council recognized Nelson and Pade, Inc. with the Sustainable Product of the Year award for small business during the 2014 Earth Day Awards in Milwaukee, Wis. With a 20+ year history in aquaponic production, Nelson and Pade were presented with this prestigous honor for their Clear Flow Aquaponic System, which efficiently produces fresh fish and vegetables 365 days a year and features their patented ZDEP technology. The ZDEP (zero discharge/extra production) eliminates a waste-water stream from the system while increasing vegetable production. The clean water that leaves the ZDEP is used to refresh system water, reducing overall water usage while growing more plants in the system.