12 urban farmer enthusiasts had the pleasure of touring Tasty Greens Neighbourhood Farms HQ in May when co-founders Samantha and Xch’e’ welcomed us into their beautiful Strathcona home. They shared their tips and tricks for growing the healthiest, most delicious microgreens around and running a successful small-scale food business. Participants got their hands dirty preparing microgreen trays to take home – best goody bags ever! Thanks Tasty Greens!
With skills and experience in holistic nutrition and industrial design, Samantha and Xch’e’ started Tasty Greens as a way to share the healing abilities of food and connect urban dwellers to their food and small-scale gardening. They had the vision and they reached out to Embers Ventures for the business support to make their dreams a reality.
Initially they started with a small-scale set up (shelves from IKEA), a couple of clients, and funneled all profits back into the business. In less than two years, they have two beautiful greenhouses, an awesome delivery cart, and enough clientele that they can think about leaving their off-farm jobs. According to Samantha, the microgreen market is still pretty untapped and with a two week growing period, microgreens are a low risk way to take the plunge into urban farming.
Xch’e’ did a stellar job of building two greenhouses, one inside for the winter months and one outside for the summer. The inside greenhouse has LED lights over movable shelving so they can pack a lot of microgreen trays into a small-ish space. Both greenhouses have fans so they can control temperature/humidity. If you ever need to build a greenhouse, you should probably hire Xche… or at least drop by Tasty Greens HQ for inspiration.
They shared some trade secrets with our participants, who were delighted to immediately put what they learnt into practice and make up a tray of microgreens to take home and enjoy.
Tasty Greens’ Tips and Tricks:
- Use organic, non-GMO seeds (they like Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds, a Canadian company) to avoid expensive food recall due to pathogen contamination.
- Soil should be flush with top of tray to encourage air flow and to prevent seeds from getting moldy
- Don’t cover seeds with soil (or else greens will have soil on them and need to be cleaned). When seeds are germinating, you can cover them with another tray or a piece of cardboard for a couple of days.
- You can compost the potting soil after harvesting the greens to close a loop and increase the sustainability of your urban farm.
- Get clients by pounding the pavement and taking samples to restaurants.
Thanks Tasty Greens for a great workshop!