Phyllis Hanson reaches her tongs into a baggie filled with broccoli microgreens and draws out a few which she drops in the hand of a customer. As the woman eats the microgreens, Phyllis explains that the nutrition and flavor of full-size broccoli are concentrated in these tiny leaves.
The June 6th Oakmont Farmers Market was the first time Solrig Farms had been to a farmers market. Now every Wednesday Phyllis teaches customers about the microgreens she sells which include basil, arugula, red cabbage, kale, various kinds of mustards, and many others. A customer asked her about buckwheat microgreens which were not on the product list and Phyllis said she would look into growing them to try new plants that interest the customer.
Phyllis further explains how to use the living microgreens by snipping off the leaves with some stem, rinsing them under cold water, and then simply sprinkling into salads or on pizza, cooking them in sauces, or adding them to egg salad. She also explains how to take care of the grow containers of tiny microgreens to maintain their nutritional quality for up to two weeks and often beyond. She recommends leaving the living microgreens in the grow container on your counter and misting them or watering them when you notice that the potting mixture looks dry.
Solrig Farm is the synthesis of Phyllis’s passion for farming and chemistry. A chemistry teacher at Friends Central, Phyllis saw a PBS documentary about a man who started his own urban farm in inner-city Baltimore, she decided she could do that too in her house in Ardmore. Having been a life-long vegetable gardener, she had some expertise in crop production. She also had space to develop her own urban farm growing microgreens, and a partner who supported her with wiring and mechanical knowledge, as well as encouragement. She has spent the last year learning how to grow each of the types of microgreens and reading technical journal articles documenting the nutritional values of microgreens. She says that each plant needs its own unique growing conditions. For example, many must germinate in the dark for several days, but others, in fact, need bright light to germinate like basil and celery. She has engineered how to automate watering the tiny plants with the use of smart plugs and appropriate apps on her smartphone and now can produce several hundred units of plants every week.
Phyllis loves coming to the Oakmont Farmers Market because she enjoys talking to people and telling them about her microgreens. She also enjoys listening to her returning customers tell her how they are using their microgreens from packing nutrition into smoothies, flavoring German-style potato salad, or spicing up scrambled eggs. But what really made her smile today was one little boy’s reaction to the red cabbage: “These are yummy!”