A look inside the Greenbelt Greenhouse in Gormley, Ontario.
When was the last time you heard someone get passionate about lettuce and greens? If you talk to Nicky Church from Greenbelt Greenhouse in Gormley, Ontario (about 10 minutes from Stouffville) you might soon be a convert to their Certified Organic Microgreens.
These microgreens are seedlings such as broccoli or kale harvested when 3-5 cm tall and eaten raw or added to cooked dishes.
Besides the pleasure of caring for ten varieties of microgreens in the spacious greenhouses Nicky loves packing up the boxes of microgreens because, “I am so happy knowing that so many people are buying this tasty and nutritious food and they are loving to eat greens!” At Reesor’s Market & Bakery you can find their range of microgreens including arugula, broccoli, kale, spring pea, sunflower and more.
In July 2012 the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published the first scientific data on the nutritional content of 25 different microgreens. Generally, they are all significantly (10-40 times) more nutrient dense than either their mature plant or their raw seed counterparts. The microgreens were confirmed to contain higher anti-oxidant concentrations (i.e. vitamins A, C, E and K, and other beneficial phytonutrients) than most foods.
Nicky is one of the staff working alongside Ian Adamson who realized his dream of opening Greenbelt Greenhouse producing and distributing Certified Organic Microgreens in 2010. Ian says that in 1998 he started experimenting with microgreens because, “I was interested in healthy flavourful foods, promoting ecological growing practices, and my own curiosity about how to more efficiently grow better food.”
Greenbelt Greenhouse is a state-of-the-art glass greenhouse with many computerized ecological features saving energy and water and reducing waste. One feature are ceiling curtains that automatically close in the evenings to prevent warm air from escaping reducing energy use over 35%. A rainwater cistern not only collects excellent soft water for their handwatering system, but it also requires much less energy than to pump from a deep water well. This water is kept clean with air bubbled in from their windmill. The harvested microgreens are washed in pure water from their deep well, so there is no need to treat it with chlorine, which not only leaves an unpleasant odor it also shortens the shelf-life of tender greens.
Adding the greens to a smoothie is one of the best ways to get the full health benefits, but Ian and Nicky also offer their suggestions about how to eat your microgreens such as adding arugula to sandwiches to provide an exciting zing or as a great surprise in fruit salad. Broccoli is mildly peppery with clean broccoli-flavoured overtones and is a great addition in pancake batter or your favourite bread dough. Kale has a mild creamy flavour, yet it is sturdy enough to remain crunchy in a salad dressing.