sustainablefarming

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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Farmer's Market Recipe: Pizza w/ Whole Wheat and Honey Crust

Spicy Microgreens make an excellent pizza topping!

Spicy Microgreens make an excellent pizza topping!

You'll love the flavor of a little local honey in your pizza crust, it adds the slightest touch of sweetness and crisps up beautifully. This quick and easy pizza dough can be topped any way you like (we suggest lots of farm-fresh toppings and our Spicy Microgreens mix!).

Whole Wheat and Honey Pizza Dough
Dough Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Filtered Water (110 degrees F)

2 1/2 teaspoons Dry Active Yeast

2 Cups Organic Whole Wheat Flour

1 Tablespoon Local Honey

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons Organic Olive Oil

To make the dough:
Combine the water, yeast and honey together. After about 5 minuted the mixture will look frothy. Then add in the olive oil. In another bowl combine the flour and sea salt and whisk together. Then combine both mixtures together and mix well with a wooden spoon and your hands. Place into a bowl in a warm area and allow dough to rise. After 45 minutes, punch down and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Pizza:
To shape your crust you will simply use your hands and gravity. DO NOT use a rolling pin- it will press out all of the air that has formed in your dough. Take the ball of dough in your hands and simply begin pulling it around the edges. It should start to stretch easily. Rotate it around your first making sure you are stretching each side evenly, so that you have a round crust. The middle will be fairly thin, and you want to leave the edges thicker so they will puff up. Sprinkle a small amount of corn meal on a pizza stone or baking pizza pan to prevent the pizza from sticking. Top your pizza with a combo of your favorite farmer's market ingredients, like Trail Ridge Farm's Lavender Blues goat cheese, Wil-Moore Farms bacon and some crushed walnuts. Bake pizza in a preheated 500 degree F oven for 12-15 minutes until the the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Top with spicy micros and another drizzle of honey!

**What market meals have you created lately? Let us know and share a photo on our Facebook page!**

30 Days of City Roots: An Interview with a CSA Member

 30 Days of City Roots: An Interview with a CSA Member

The recipes that Stephanie offered to share with the City Roots blog were ridiculously simple, and while simple and easy recipes are inherently appealing, Stephanie's do offer us something more as well. For her recipes speak to what we typically forget when we eat in front of the TV or snack out of boredom: that we should appreciate food for what it really is--we should be able to actually taste the vegetables amidst all the fats and oils we typically drown them in. Simplifying our recipes allows us to taste what's good for us.

Roam the Fields with Us: A Digital Farm Tour

City Roots sprawls in a way that makes you wonder which building is the main one; the greenhouses look just as inviting as the store. But still, you know better. You walk up and into the biggest structure, and inside this place full of people, your body suddenly seems conspicuously still. Everyone looks up and smiles, but their hands stay busy, washing microgreens or carrying bags from one room to the next.