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Experts say microgreens could make future of farming more affordable, accessible

Posted at 9:41 AM, Dec 04, 2020

It’s all hands on deck during harvest time at Infinite Harvest.

This indoor, hydroponic farm in Colorado specializes in microgreens, young vegetables grown in a controlled environment and cropped shortly after they’ve sprouted.

Production manager Luke Blough says microgreen sales have quadrupled in the past nine months with more consumers becoming more health, sustainability and environmentally conscious.

“We kind of check all three of those boxes,” he said. “Our microgreen products are very nutrient dense; very flavorful. They’re sustainably grown locally and we have less environmental impact.”

There's less environmental impact because of the way they’re grown. Stacking shelves of microgreens and growing them under LED lights means using about 95% less land than traditional farming.

This method is catching on nationally.

“Consumers are becoming more interested in microgreens,” said Sarah A. Johnson, Ph.D., with the food science and human nutrition department at Colorado State University. “They’re a relatively new agricultural food crop.”.

In addition to the nutritional and environmental benefits, Johnson’s team found that microgreens could have major impacts in urban areas by making fresh produce more easily available to areas considered food deserts.

“I think they have a lot of potential to kind of pop up all over the place,” she said. “Not just with these large companies but with smaller sort of pop-up, start-up companies as well.”

As more farmers look to avoid unpredictable weather and leave less of a carbon footprint, experts predict microgreen consumption will continue growing nationwide

“There are a couple of things we can do in a controlled environment that you can’t really do when you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Blough said.