Farmer Eric Gives the Scoop on Microgreens Expansion

A 5,000 square foot new home for more microgreens, edible flowers, herbs and flower transplants

A 5,000 square foot new home for more microgreens, edible flowers, herbs and flower transplants

You may have seen activity surrounding a new greenhouse on the farm... Farmer Eric McClam gives the inside scoop on our recent microgreens expansion:

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"At City Roots, we are proud to be the Southeast’s premier organic microgreens grower. We started from humble beginnings in 2009, growing only a few pounds of microgreens, to now producing over 25,000 pounds annually. Although we are a diversified organic vegetable farm, microgreens are our focus, making up the largest portion of our farm’s production in four (now five!) greenhouses. And while our production has grown significantly since the onset of the farm, we haven’t changed our methods much since we started. We are still filling plastic flats with soil, germinating, cutting and composting 5,000 trays of microgreens weekly by the most rudimentary methods--by hand!

Greenhouse Manager Beth Lund seeding trays by hand.

Greenhouse Manager Beth Lund seeding trays by hand.

We realized the need to improve our methods of growing and harvesting if we were to meet the growing demand of our microgreens. Our current process is extremely manually intensive, so we spent hours identifying the necessary equipment and infrastructure to minimize that hard labor while increasing efficiency, improving yield and overall food safety of our micros for years to come. Our goal is to get more of this awesome super food out to our local community and beyond! 

We are pumped to have acquired some of the key components (pictured below) we needed to improve our process: soil hopper, flat filler, seeder, and a water tunnel, as well as conveyors that will be hung from the ceiling of the greenhouses and can be moved left to right over the the head of the tables.

Although we currently use solar power to offset a portion of our fossil fuel consumption, City Roots' goal is to become even more sustainable and reduce our carbon foot print by working to utilize infrastructure improvements. Still to come: a germination chamber (we're pouring the concrete now), a micros mechanical harvester and more conveyor belts. These improvements will help us increase the capacity and efficiency of City Roots microgreens production and get more of these greens to your plates!

We are actually in the process of applying to a competitive local farm grant program, called Cultivating Change, to help fund some of this expansion project. Cultivating Change is a local farm grant program offered by Greener Fields Together.  It aims to fund projects and pursuits that will help local farmers do what they’re best at: farming. We will need voters and you can help! Learn more and sign up on their website.

Do you love microgreens? You can help support our efforts by joining our CSA program! Each week your CSA includes a share of our microgreens harvest, as well as seasonal veggies and mushrooms. Your CSA subscription will be hard at work this year with supporting these greenhouse improvements! 

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