Susan Newman, owner of FoodyBiz, growing microgreens in Yellowpoint.

Big things come in small – but tasty! – packages

Yellowpoint grower does big business in microgreens

The best business stories seem to have an element of happenstance – a fortuitous meeting that sparks an idea or interest. So it was for Yellowpoint’s Susan Newman, owner of FoodyBiz Microgreens.

Raised on a 200-acre Kootenay farm, growing has long been part of Susan’s DNA, but her early career path led elsewhere. When a chance meeting while on vacation introduced her to microgreens, “I was intrigued,” Susan recalls.

She also found her passion. “It’s the soil – I love it so much,” she says. “Getting my hands back in the dirt is what gets me up in the morning.”

The magic of microgreens:

‘Microgreen’ describes tiny, tender, edible seedlings of vegetables and herbs that germinate in soil or a soil substitute from the seed of vegetables and herbs. Smaller than “baby greens” and harvested later than “sprouts,” a microgreen has a single central stem, cut just above the soil during harvesting, and carries the flavour of its “grown-up” version: from the garden-sweet taste of English peas straight to a spicy radish mix to horseradish-like mustard, a delicious, textural alternative for sushi or roast beef sandwiches.

And talk about a powerful nutritional punch! Studies suggest the various varieties of microgreens are between six and 40 times more nutritionally dense than their full-grown counterparts.

Since marking FoodyBiz’s first anniversary Feb. 14, the response has been remarkable.

With a steady cycle of seeding and harvesting about 15 different varieties, Susan plants and harvests twice a week. Grown inside, in soil under lights, the microgreens are ready for harvest between nine and 12 days after sowing.

From her original 360 square feet of growing space – “The Micro-Can” – she recently doubled in size to keep up with the demand of local grocery stores, and added a new spring crunch salad to her line of broccoli, mustard, radish, red cabbage and Hot and Spicy microgreens mix.

“I’m always experimenting with different varieties and different mixes,” she says.

Island made: Island Good

FoodyBiz is among the numerous Vancouver Island producers and growers participating in Island Good, an initiative with four Island grocers to increase consumer awareness of Island-made and Island-grown food products.

The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance pilot project, in Country Grocer (except for Salt Spring), Thrifty Foods, Quality Foods and 49th Parallel Grocery stores through August, aims to increase demand for Island products. Look for ‘Island Good’ stickers, posters and other signage highlighting these Island products in all store departments.

“We’ve been thrilled with the interest Vancouver Islanders have shown in the Island Good program since it launched and as we come into spring and summer, those opportunities to shop local, source local and eat local will be even greater,” says VIEA President George Hanson. “Shoppers have shown us that identifying Island Good options is important to them and we know that will lead to increased production, more jobs and more production capacity.”

Look for the Island Good tags, enjoy local food and support our local economy: It’s Island Good!

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