Crop Focus – Purple Kohlrabi Micro-greens

C882AFA3-BDE0-40F8-AA1A-59EFAE826D16Kohlrabi is a lesser known veggie on the scene.  It resides in the Brassica family, like broccoli or cauliflower, and forms a bulb at the base of the plant.  The entire plant is edible and is commonly either green or purple in color.  The bulb that is formed at the base of the plant is crispy and tastes kind of like jicama or a sweet turnip.  The leaves are similar in taste to collard greens, and can be prepared the same way.  Now that we know what the fully grown veggie is, lets jump into the micro green form.

We grow the purple version for our micro greens.  The light purple stem and bright green top is a beautiful sight that is packed with nutritional goodness.  Loaded up with vitamins like C and K, and made up of nearly 30% plant protein, these micro-greens are a true superfood!

IMG_0562All micro-greens are overflowing with great nutrition, but purple and red varieties are especially densely charged with antioxidants.  According to HealthFoodEvolution.com, the purple pigment that gives the purple and red colors in fruits and veggies is a great source for Anthocyanins.  These Anthocyanins protect our cells from lifestyle based damage, like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disease.  Purple fruits, veggies and herbs have been used in natural medicine to help with the common cold, hypertension and even liver disorders.

Anthocyanins are our best friends.  No wonder our eyes are dawn to colors.  They are nutritious!  These antioxidants work hard to lower your inflammatory response.  Eat more purple colored veggies to lower your chronic inflammation.  This will help all inflammation based illness, but specifically lowers the burden on your cardiovascular system.  They can even lower your artery stiffness and lower blood pressure.  These anthocyanin’s also help with your overall brain health by enhancing memory and preventing age related decline.

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Who knew the color purple would be so important?  The good news is that micro-greens of all types are a great compact source of nutritional content.  Purple kohlrabi micro-greens are a great source of these potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  And the best news of all, they taste amazing!

Tasting slightly of spinach and cabbage, these tiny greens go great in any salad or sandwich.   Top your favorite soup for a perfect splash of purple color!  The mild flavor and texture of these micro-greens make them a perfect pair for your fruit smoothie too.  You can also find kohlrabi micro-greens in our mild mix alongside broccoli, kale and red cabbage!  Now that’s a power packed lineup!

Support Local Businesses, Especially Local Agriculture

IMG_2361Today we vote each and every day.  But the vote that we cast is not in a ballot box.  We vote with our dollar and we cast our vote for what kind of community we want to engage and live in.  Most of the time we don’t think of this as voting.  Convenience has become a bigger value than the story behind the good or service.  Convenience is king.  Instead of supporting your locally owned coffee shop, its likely easier to hit up the drive through.  Instead of getting a CSA or visiting your local farmers market, it’s easier to hit up the local grocery store that has everything in one stop.  I get it.  Life is at a fast pace….but some things are really worth slowing down for.

Before children, my wife and I lived in the foothills of Denver.  We didn’t have a garden or grow anything for ourselves.  We didn’t notice how much we relied on big box grocers and really had no idea where our food was coming from.   We attended farmers markets a few times a year, but really relied on the convince of the grocery store and open all hours options.  We really missed something living there too.  We couldn’t quite put a finger on it, but something was missing.

IMG_0117When we moved to small town Salida, CO, everything about our consumption changed.   We were surrounded with small businesses and we engaged with the owners.  There are more small businesses than large retailers here and it totally shapes our community.  This is a lovely thing.  Small businesses supported by a small town!  We attended the farmers market every weekend, and got to know the farmers of our area for the first time.  After a couple of years, we decided to start our own farm and now we sell our produce at that same farmers market.  Now we know full circle what happens when you support local agriculture and local business.

IMG_2473Supporting local businesses makes for a stronger local economy.  The dollars earned by locals are spent locally.   This creates an amazing sense of community.   All of the small businesses in our town is exactly what makes our community so special.  We all support each other, and it’s noticed.  The atmosphere that brings so many visitors to our town is a direct result of the small businesses that create it!

When it comes to agriculture, when you support local farmers and ranchers you get fresher produce!  The food grown and raised locally is not transported long distances.   This helps with the carbon footprint and environment.  This also helps people get the nutrient dense food that they want….the freshest food possible.  Local farmers are more likely to grow heirloom and specialty crops which will increase food diversity.   Many of the best tasting foods don’t transport well, so the big box retails don’t carry it, and the large farms don’t grow it.  Then there is food safety.  With recalls all over the news, its more important than ever to know your farmer and how your food is being grown or raised.

IMG_2002When you support a local farmer, rancher, or small business owner, you investing in their family and therefore your local community.  Youre helping that farmer put their kids through college.  Youre helping that small business owner pay their mortgage or rent.  You’re helping that farm expand to bring more to the local market.  When you vote to spend money at the big box stores, your money leaves the local community.  It goes into the bank for a large corporation and is not noticed.  The big businesses look at the bottom line, not the community impact.   When you choose to shop local, every sale is noticed.  Every sale is a vote for a more vibrant and caring community.

 

Living Micro-greens by P.C.G.

IMG_0342As we come into spring, we are excited to get back outside and tidy up our gardens and back yards.   Soon the flowers will be in blossom and the humming birds will be buzzing from flower to flower.  But right now we are in-between seasons.  We have to keep our patience and not get started too early.   There is nothing worse than spending a ton of time in the garden and then the weather turns 3 weeks later as mother nature reminds you that gardening in Colorado is hard!

For the hardcore gardeners, this is the time for seed starting and getting a jump on the season indoors.  Others are making their lists and getting ready to hit up the local nursery to get their starts.  This is the perfect time to grow out some micro greens and scratch that green thumb itch!  Micro-greens grow fast and you can keep harvesting year round produce right from our countertop or kitchen table.   They don’t require lots of light so they do just fine on the countertop, but would also love to snuggle next to your garden starts as they grow.

IMG_0381We have lots of options when it comes to our living greens products.  During the summer farmers market season we have a wide variety of living greens ready to purchase and harvest.  We also take custom orders year round, and even will plant them in your own  pot if you have one in mind!  Most varieties are ready in 10-20 days so we ask for a 2 week minimum lead-time if you have a custom order that you want filled.  Our greens will come to you ready to harvest, which couldn’t be easier.   Just take a pair of scissors and trim at the base.   Some varieties like Pea Shoots, Wheat Grass and Chives you can get multiple harvests or even transplant into your own outdoor garden to grow out!

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Having a tray of micro-greens that you harvest directly into your meal is by far the freshest food that you can access…even fresher than the cooked food from your garden!  As you trim the greens you will have a full sensory experience.  If you trim the cilantro greens, your whole room will smell of fresh chopped cilantro.  The arugula smells of pepper in the air!  Trim directly into your meal and enjoy!  And enjoy the health benefits too!  When you trim and eat, there is no nutritional loss.  It’s the best way to enjoy the outstanding health benefits offered by these amazing tiny greens!

When you’re done with your greens, go ahead and compost the root mat.  It takes just a few weeks before its back to being potting soil and ready for planting again!  If you don’t have a compost setup don’t worry….just return it to us and we will compost the roots and re-use the planting container.  

Weather you’re looking to have a special center piece arrangement for your upcoming party or just want to have some fresh produce always at your fingertips, we can help!  Let us do the hard work and get your greens ready for harvesting then you can step in!

 

 

Eating Greens Does the Body Good!

We all know we should eat more leafy greens.   I was told that for years and I brushed it off for later in life.   I mean, who wants to really eat a sad side salad with iceberg lettuce and carrot shavings?  No-one does.  No-One.  But the truth is that leafy greens are truly amazing for a healthy balanced diet.

IMG_2218First off, they are high in nutrient and mineral content while being very low in calories and fat.  This means you can pile them high on a plate and you’ll get full before you start packing on the extra lbs.   All leafy greens are charged with loads of vitamins like A, C, and E, and minerals like Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Potassium.  Vitamin C alone has a major impact on the bodies ability to burn fat.  Low levels of vitamin C appear to hamper the bodies ability to shed fat.  Think of it this way…its not the salads that help you loose weight, its the high nutrient content that is allowing the body to function as designed!

IMG_0285Another thing we need in our diet is fiber, and greens contain fiber in spades.   Fiber is not digested by the body but it helps the body in many ways.   It helps with satiation.  You will feel fuller, longer, when you’re consuming enough fiber in your meals.  Beyond being fuller, it will help slow the absorption of sugars which helps regulate your blood sugar levels.  No more crashing when you’re eating enough fiber!

When you’re consuming a lot of vitamins, minerals and fiber from your food sources you’ll notice a few things.  You will have increased cognitive function, increased energy, increased weight loss, and an overall more youthful appearance!  Who doesn’t want that?

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All greens bring something to the table, but the darker the greens, the more mineral and nutrient content.  So don’t shy away from Kale, Chard, Spinach, Broccoli, Collards and other greens like that.  And of course Microgreens!   Microgreens are more nutrient and mineral dense than even the fully grown leafy greens so make sure they are a part of your meal planning as well.  Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, and Kohlrabi Microgreens are the darkest of our micros, so they are always a good choice to really boost your nutritional intake!  Plus they all taste great.

At first you’ll wonder how you can eat all of these greens.  But, after a while you’ll find yourself looking for even more greens.   We have been actively adding greens to our meals for 3 years now and there hasn’t been a meal without some sort of greens on the plate.   Bringing color and beauty to the plate, when you eat greens regularly, you’ll really miss them when they aren’t on the plate.

 

New Compostable Packaging!

We are upping our packaging game! IMG_0269

Unfortunately, plastics are a necessity in the convenience based world we live in today.   Our packaging has always been recyclable, as well as made from recycled materials, but we found a way to lessen our impact even further.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a photo on instagram of a farm using some plant based packaging and I started on our hunt for something better for us to use.  What I found was amazing.  Not only were there plant based options but we found ones at World Centric that were 100% plant based.  They are also 100% compostable.  And even better then that…World Centric uses third party certification to verify all of their products!

First off, World Centric is a B-Corporation, which puts them in good company like Patagonia Outdoor Apparel.  According to http://www.bcorporation.net, there are only 2,655 companies, representing 150 industries across 60 countries. Working with the USDA Biopreferred Program, they certify that their products are produced with renewable plant materials.  The Biodegradable Product Institute is a non-profit that certifies that the product will meet the USDA requirements to actually compost.  In addition to their certifications, they also are a member of 1% For the Plant which means 1% of their annual sales are donated directly to an approved environmental or sustainable non-profit organization.  They are also a Green America Certified Business which certifies that their  business is used as a platform for positive social change.  And if that isn’t enough…they also donate a large portion of their pre-tax profit to many global grass roots program.

All of this information is listed on their webpage, which I fully encourage you to check out.   They have lots of information of how to be an informed consumer and why these kinds of products are necessary.  If you’re ordering products for your business, please look for yourself.   Their list of products are endless, the prices are competitive and everything ships fast and safe!

Check them out at worldcentric.com, but more specifically, check this link out that relates directly to becoming a more informed consumer. (World Centric – Tools for Conscious Living).

When you find good companies like this one, its worth sharing about them.   We are fully impressed thus far with our experience and are thankful that there are thoughtful companies like World Centric to support our small business.

 

How To Eat Microgreens

There are a few repeat questions that I get at every farmers market, and they tend to focus on “how do you eat these?” or “are these just for salads?”.  The answer is always “Yes, they are great for adding to a salad, but they are really amazing added to any dish!”

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Microgreens are delicate and they need to be treated with a little care, but they are not hard to cook with or add into any dish.  Because they are delicate, its important to not introduce to heat.  They should be added after the meal is cooked and starting to cool.  We like to serve dinner plated and have good selection of microgreens to choose from at the center of the table, just like dressing or salt and pepper.  In cooler meals, like cold pasta salad or sushi rolls, the greens can be added right into the mix.  Same thing with salads.  Feel free to mix them in with your salad greens or sprinkle on top.

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We like to think of them as a nutritional supplement and use them to meet our daily requirements of many vitamins and minerals.  For instance, broccoli microgreens are likely the most nutritious greens that we grow.  Just 2 oz of these greens have the nutritional density of 2.5 lbs of broccoli flourettes.   When you’re using microgreens at every meal, you’re really just adding a little more nutrition every time you eat.   That adds up!  Just one small package is like consuming an extra 2 or 3 lbs of broccoli by the end of the week.

Plus, after a while, the plate just seems lacking without a splash of green or purple.  Once you get hooked, they are hard to quit.  But who doesn’t need a new healthy habit for the new year?

 

My road to healing part 3: how to feel better

-Guest Blog by Dr. Ann Croghan, PT, DPT, CLC

How to feel better?

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Start small. Do what you can. Have compassion for yourself.

Identify one part of your food habit that you know you should change AND then change it.  For me: it was dairy. Giving up dairy helped me to realize that I was sick and that I could feel better.  Look up the requirements for how long you need to completely avoid that food to know if it is contributing.  Dairy is a complete avoidance for 2-4 weeks. If you mess up, you have to start over. AND you need to know where that food hides. The milk protein casein hides in many things.  Did you know there is such a thing as vegan wine? Or that some non dairy coffee creamers have dairy? Or they use dairy in sausage cassing?

For dairy, there are three main proteins: lactose (which everyone knows), casein, whey. Funny enough, lactose never made me feel sick. So don’t use that as your baseline.

People say to me: “BUT CHEESE? I love cheese!”.  My response? I didn’t love my back pain. I didn’t love my: fatigue, depression, stiffness, hip pain, knee pain, leg pain, asthma, ringing in my ears…… ALL things I didn’t know I could change. My life is so much better without those food choices. And if we continue to advocate for change in the food we eat, we will see more people get better. We will see more restaurants serving food that support healthy minds and bodies.

Ask your loved ones to support you. Staying away from dairy was easier at first because Matt kept it out of the house.

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Living without dairy is easy: there are plant milks, coconut oil, you can make cashews into different kinds of cheese/cream/spread, bananas make the perfect ice cream. All of these choices are cheeper too! Plus I don’t feel terrible anymore.

 

Living without wheat, corn, soy. Read labels. Make your own food. Buy some gluten free bread from Little Red Hen.  On a daily basis I make a choice to feel better. I would rather not eat for the day than have food that will make me sick. Because my body has what it needs to function, I don’t feel terribly hungry any more. I don’t have hangery moments, or hunger crashes, or times where I HAVE TO EAT!!!!!

Add in living, nutrient dense food. You have a lot to make up for. Bananas, blueberry smoothies, lemons, apples, cauliflower, broccoli, peas. Of course: Microgreens!!! Grow your own lettuce, veggies, lemons, herbs.  It’s easy to grow your food. Why take care of a small 4×4 grass space in your yard that serves no purpose? Make it a garden instead.

Support your local farmer.

Support your local restaurant that uses food from the local farmer and not just food from the food truck….. unless it’s The Valley Roots Food Hub.

Don’t let people get to you. We only have this one life. I want to live this life without: fatigue, pain, depression, ringing in my ears, ridges in my nails, sickness. I want to live this life with: energy and laughter.  And for the last few years, I have been doing just that.

Thank you to my wonderful husband Matt for his drive to bring nutrient dense food to his family, to his community, and to inspire other farmers/gardeners to do the same. It’s time to make a change.

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Microgreens….not sprouts!

First off, lets just make it clear that I have no medical or nutritional training.  I am not a doctor and any advice given should be discussed with your healthcare professionals.  At the same time, these microgreens have changed my own family’s life and I don’t want misconceptions or misunderstandings get in the way from others thriving.

The reasons I lead off with that is because microgreens are popular these days.  I am oftentimes asked, “aren’t sprouts dangerous?” Or that, “sprouts are not good for pregnant moms…”. The answer is that sprouts can be dangerous.  They are frowned upon by the FDA during pregnancy.  Good news though….Microgreens are NOT sprouts!

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Sprouts are simply germinated seeds that are grown in water.  Many people have grown their own sprouts in mason jars.  The water is drained, seeds are rinsed, and water is refilled many times until the seeds have sprouted.  They are never planted and are sometimes sold in the same containers they are grown in.  Both the root and seed is consumed raw, but no leaf or actual greens because they are never planted.  Because of the water used during production, there is a large susceptibility for bacteria growth.  Over the years, this has given sprouts a negative image due to many health scares.

 

 

Microgreens on the other hand are grown in soil or another substrate that will allow the seed to grow into its first true leaf.  We use soil and water.  No nutrients or additives.  The greens are harvested when the first true leaf emerges.  At this point in the plants life, the colors are vibrant and the flavor is powerful.  Each variety has its own flavor and texture profile.   Some are crunchy while others are delicate.  Also, only the greens are harvested leaving the roots behind.  This really cuts down on the bacteria concerns.  Our product is closer to lettuce or mixed greens than sprouts.  All of these differences add up to a completely different product.

Microgreens are perfect for people of all ages.  Our dogs are even benefiting from the sunflower shoots.  They are too nutritious to be afraid of!

 

 

 

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle on the Farm!

We try to be as sustainable as we can with our farm operations. We reuse trays, compost, and avoid using plastic when possible. The farming industry has become overrun with plastic products, and we’re trying our hardest not to add to that problem.

We use plastic trays for our microgreen planting, but re-use them as many times as possible and make sure they are recycled when they are broken beyond repair. We reuse all seed starting and propagation containers. We choose to mulch with wood chips and not landscape fabric. We have a long lasting plastic greenhouse covering that should last much longer than the standard. It’s safe to say that without plastic we wouldn’t be doing the same stuff we’re doing now. But we’re aware of our use and make it non negotiable that all plastics be recycled and have minimal impact to the environment as possible.

Far and away our largest use of plastics is our plastic containers for our microgreens. We did extensive research on packaging and found that plastic clamshells are the best product for our greens to maximize shelf life and product freshness. The containers we use are BPA-free, 100% recyclable and made from a minimum of 30% post consumer recycled product. We pay a little more for this quality product, but it’s way too important to skip on!

One way we are able to lower our environmental impact is to offer bulk and custom orders directly off the farm. If you have a container that you would like to use, we can fill it up and avoid the plastic all together! If the small containers are just not enough and you find yourself buying multiple containers at a time, we can help there too. We offer small, medium and large clamshell packages that can reduce the number of plastic containers purchased at a given time. Additionally, if you purchase directly off the farm we can re-use your containers that you clean before refilling! Plus, we will take back any used containers that are in good shape. We won’t re-package greens, but we will use old containers to plant our live trays that are offered in the farmers market season!

We are always trying to minimize our impact and aim to provide a quality, consistent product. If you want to shift to bulk orders directly, please contact us today! And of course, we also ask that you play your part and make sure that our used packages make it into the recycling or be re-purposed!

Building Our Farm with Compost!

We currently harvest anywhere from 50 to 80 trays of microgreens weekly. This leaves us with a lot of compostable goodies! Since we grow our Micros on a standard organic potting soil we have perfect starting materials. The crops are only grown for 10-15 days so they use up hardly any organic material. Additionally, we add organic material back in via the roots of the microgreens. This root material composts very quickly and we are left with slightly better potting soil!

From here we will take the compost and transfer it into raised planter beds that we are installing around our property. Composting is helping our operation grow organically, without large investments in our outdoor garden.

This system is working for us, but we are new to composting. I reached out to Julie, our friend and Owner of Elements Mountain Compost for a few pointers that can help get you some proper black gold. Here are three pointers to keep in mind, especially in a climate like ours here in Salida, Colorado:

  • Incorporate lots of brown materials (leaves, woodchips, dead grass, etc.)
  • Lots of surface area – smaller items will break down faster and mixing/aerating will allow bacteria to enhance decomposition.
  • Lots of moisture – compost tends to dry out in our arid climate and decomposing will stall out without sufficient water.

Over the coming years we will be changing and evolving our composting setup to meet our farm needs. Right now it’s pretty simple and meets our expansion goals. In the future, we plan on diving into worm bins for our kitchen scraps and a more elaborate composting system that will recycle the compost back into the microgreen production.

It is really satisfying to make great soil and every home should start this practice! Start slow and use yard clippings and kitchen scraps. Your houseplants and garden will thank you!