Upon a visit to the Farmer’s Market, it is clear to see that this valley has a lot more to offer than your standard fruit and veg. I love visiting the market to load up on old favourites like asparagus and strawberries, but I get really excited to see what new kinds of produce our local providers are working with. Ki Mana Acres made their Farmer’s Market debut last summer and introduced some really interesting veg to the market, including greens like pak choy and tatsoi. As the summer growing season came to an end, I was really excited to hear about Kieran’s transition into greenhouse and indoor growing methods that brought about his venture into the world of microgreens!
As implied by the name, micro greens are little leafy numbers on their way to becoming mature vegetables. They are not a particular kind of vegetable, they are actually a certain phase in the growing cycle of the plant, falling right between a sprout and a baby green. Unlike a sprout, microgreens have surpassed the germination stage of growing (when a stem and baby leaves first start to form from a seed), which gives a bit more sustenance and flavour to the vegetable. However, they are not quite baby greens which are the result of vegetables harvested before they are fully mature (Ki Mana Acres also offers a large variety of baby greens, I especially love picking up “power greens” mixes full of baby kale). So, microgreens fall right in the middle of these 2 stages, a result of harvesting the plant once it has presented its very first leaves. Since these greens are harvested so early in the growing process, they don’t require much space or time to grow, lending themselves nicely to indoor and greenhouse methods throughout the year. Being able to grow a true microgreen is a super unique area of farming expertise, that is now increasingly unique to our Farmer’s Market.
Microgreens can be harvested from a number of plants that develop leaves, this ranges from greens (think lettuce, kale, spinach) to herbs (cilantro, basil), and a plethora of other goodies in the vegetable kingdom (broccoli, radishes, peas etc. etc.). Despite the tiny stature of these greens, they boast intense flavour. Tastes of the would-be mature vegetables come across throughout the leaves and stem, concentrated by the miniature portion – more so than sprouts or baby greens actually! Ki Mana Acres regularly switch up their selection, this weekend sunflower and pea shoots are available, and next weekend I believe some radish micros will be harvested, Ki Mana has also rolled out buckwheat shoots in the past.
Like most things I like to talk about in my Farmer’s Market posts, there is a wonderful world of nutrition existing amongst these microgreens. It’s basically in the name, no matter the type, microgreens are loaded with micronutrients. Vitamins C, E, and K are antioxidants found in microgreens, as well as minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc. There have actually been studies done that show much like the flavour, the nutrient content is concentrated when the size of the green is reduced. This means all of these beneficial micronutrients are more readily available in microgreens than their mature counterparts.
I’m all about finding healthy and flavourful ways to reinvent dishes, and I would of course encourage any readers to do the same. Warm curries, stews, or rice dishes could be topped with microgreens to add a finishing flavour and crispness, similar to how you might finish a dish with fresh herbs. These little greens could also add an interesting flavour and texture to salads or wraps and sandwiches. And of course if you are a lover and believer of all things green smoothie, try throwing some microgreens instead of your usual spinach in the blender, spicy radish greens in a smoothie? Love that. Swing by Ki Mana Acres’ booth on Saturday morning to check out their products that deliver big flavour, big nutritional content, and tiny leaves, what a combo!
In Good Food,