“There will be no television until you finish every last vegetable on your plate.”
“I can sit at this table all night until every pea has been eaten.”
Well, the great news is that we no longer have to cajole our children into eating that green gunk.
I found a magical garden hidden away in an old commercial building in the heart of downtown Poughkeepsie, and they are growing microgreens. The Indoor Organic Gardens of Poughkeepsie (IOGP) are growing 100% Certified Organic microgreens that not only taste sweet but can be blended into chocolate, vanilla and honey milkshakes! Microgreens are not only delicious, but they are nutrient dense and easily absorbed. “People love their fresh taste, crisp crunch and bright colors,” says Brud Hodgkins, founder and CEO of IOGP. “We grow our
microgreens in compost with absolutely NO pesticides and NO fertilizer.”
What are micro-greens?
Micro-greens are older than sprouts, but younger than baby veggies. Almost any edible vegetable or herb can be enjoyed as a microgreen including lettuce, radish, basil, beets, celery, cabbage and kale. Most are 4 to 6 times higher in vitamins and antioxidants than their adult forms, and they provide a nutrient boost in just a few calories. Cabbage microgreens have 260% more vitamin A than a fully-grown cabbage, and kids love their sweet flavor. “Slap some micro greens on your ham sandwich, and you can throw your multivitamins away,” says Hodgkins.
The crops also grow to a mature status in just a few days. Microgreens efficient, nearly waterless process (only 2 cups of water needed for each crop) can produce hundreds of pounds of food per week. “Radishes take 72 hours to germinate well,” says Earl Crum, Resident Master Farmer of IOGP who visits the garden from his Milbrook farm each morning at 4 am. “We turn around these miniature crops from planting to harvest in about a week. Imagine that a nutrition deprived kid can get 100% of his daily needs in a few ounces of a microgreen in so little time.”
Goals & the IOGP Model
“There are over a million square feet of unused office space in the City of Poughkeepsie, and we wanted to find a way to reuse this space, and reduce the City’s unemployment by hiring veterans, previously-incarcerated individuals, autistic young people and at-risk youth. Our mission is to provide nutritious food to public schools, hospitals and nursing homes,” says Hodgkins. “Hunger is not our main problem, nutritional deficiency is!”
The farm works with restaurants such as Zoe’s Ice Cream Barn in LaGrangeville and Krueger Elementary School in Poughkeepsie. Microgreens are added to smoothies served to 5th grade students at Krueger, where some children are at risk of poor nutrition. “We’re always trying to find ways to sneak these microgreens into the bellies of these kids,” said Hodgkins.
IOGP microgreens can be found in 17 stores throughout the Hudson Valley including Natures Pantry in New Windsor and Fishkill, Marona’s Market in Millbrook, Mother Earth in Kingston, Adam’s Fairacre Farms in Poughkeepsie, and Quattro’s Farm Store in Pleasant Valley. Look in the produce section by the lettuces and choices include mild, spicy or a rainbow mix. Once cut, they last in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
IOGP has 7 employees currently but hopes to grow that number to over 200. One of Hodgkins’ challenges is to educate people in the Hudson Valley and beyond on the compelling characteristics of microgreens. He stresses that experts call microgreens the “Super Food” because 10 ounces of red cabbage at the microgreen stage contains the same nutrition as 40 ounces of a mature cabbage. The cost per unit of nutrition in micro form is not only a fraction of the cost in the mature form, but eating 10 ounces of micro is somewhat more practical than 2.5 pounds of mature cabbage! Hodgkins also believes that the cosmetic industry is their next big market opportunity. Once he develops a process to powder the microgreens, other markets will emerge.
After touring the farm, Senator Kirsten Gellibrand saw the project’s potential to be implemented across the state. “It’s a win-win, “ the New York senator said. “It’s an exciting idea that we hope we can replicate across the state.”