Sustainable, local and organic agriculture may be the answer to the long-term damaging effects of industrial agricultural. Although sustainable and organic farming is not a new concept, we are now starting to realize the importance of honoring and taking care of the land that feeds us. Most importantly, as humans we are beginning to understand the importance of taking care of ourselves by feeding our bodies natural foods. It is to no surprise that big agriculture has neither honored the land or the practices or producing organic foods through their operations.
Through the use chemical-intensive practices, industrial agriculture has left an array of damaged soil and rivers. Consequently, leaving new farmers with the responsibility of regenerating the land that was once fertile. In spite of these challenges farmers who understand the importance of organic and local produce are using innovative technologies to offer sustainable products and meet the demands of a growing population that craves healthy food.
One interesting group of farmers, known as microgreen farmers is doing just that. Microgreens, for those who have not heard of them, are a tinny version of your regular vegetable. Microgreens are harvested early and are about 1–3 inches tall. If you research microgreen’s you’ll see a great deal of articles that talk about the taste, texture and nutrients that are packed in these greens. Scientific research also shows that these tinny greens contain greater amounts of nutrients and minerals than their mature counterparts.
Microgreen’s are a fairly new innovation. Their production began in the mid 1990’s in Southern California which then spread to San Francisco and the East Coast. The increase in market popularity over the past several years may be due to many factors. Some of these reasons could be due to a higher demand of organic foods and vegetables, an increase in farmers markets, people discovering how to grow their own food and farmers realizing the market value of these products. Regardless of the reasons, what is more intriguing and exciting about these greens is the bigger impact their farming practices may have on the current industrial agriculture practices.
Many microgreen farmers will tell you how easy and fun it is to grow your own micgoreen’s. In general, microgoreen’s take anywhere between 6-14 days to harvest, depending on the vegetable. The problem of having land is not an issues when growing microgreen’s since they do not require a lot of space and can easily grow inside your home or apartment. In general, micgoreens need very little water during their germination and growing period, making it easy for anyone without farming experience to grow these vegetables. They require no pesticides or chemicals, they grow naturally. What makes this product even more sustainable is the ability to compost the soil for a new harvest.
Although microgreen’s can grow outside, urban farmers have come up with strategic ways to build vertical farms inside their apartments, basement and garages. Through the use of multi-rack shelving units and LED lights, microgreen farmers are reinventing the use of farming by creating innovated ways to maximize and expand on space. Multi-rack shelving provides room to grow multiple racks of greens and interestingly questions our ideology of farming as a horizontal concept. The use of LED lights provides the necessary spectrum of light to support the growth and nourishment of these vegetables, allowing farmers who live in unsuitable weather environments the opportunity to grow their own food all year round.
Before humans started to rely on industrial agriculture communities were growing their own food and feeding themselves. Growing your own food may sound appealing during times where going to a grocery store is not as captivating as it used to. Microgreen farmers and local farmers are here to show us that with little effort we can actually create sustainable ways to feed our communities where land and space is no longer an obstacle. These greens have a lot to offer aside from their taste and nutrition, they demonstrate that we no longer need to compromise the well-being of mother earth to feed the world. These new farming techniques are demonstrating the revolutionary changes we as a society can likely witness in our lifetime if we decide to shift the current systems of agriculture.