Recent Posts for the 'Profiles' Category

Bloom Microgreens: Small is Bountiful

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Announcement: I am now posting each essay, profile, recipe both on my Home Page and the cartegory it fits. My daughter-in-law suggested this change so that those who are not subscribers (See Subscribe/Unsubscribe on right hand side of Home Page) will see the posting when it is first published, rather than hunt for it.  This one is designated for Profiles.

Note: While visiting my older daughter in San Luis Obispo (SLO), CA last winter, I watched an infomercial about Central Coast businesses. One that captured my eye was Bloom Microgreens in Los Osos, about 10 miles from SLO, because of my own sprouting operation in Central Pennsylvania with my first husband. I contacted the owner and on our next trip back to SLO at the end of July, I went to Bloom with my husband and interviewed the owner, Kara Wood.

Kara Wood, owner of Bloom Microgreens in Central California

On the outskirts of the tiny town of Los Osos in Central California are two greenhouses surrounded by farmland and equipment. Here, Kara Wood, a “micro-entrepreneur,” tends 30 varieties of her microgreens, grown in soil in small flats in rows or cuplike containers in the flats. With the help of one other person, Laura, this seven-day-a-week mini-farm operation produces thousands of microgreens, microherbs, and shoots, for 25 restaurants and groceries in the area (plus a few on the California coast to whom she ships the microgreens), whose chefs use them to garnish soups, sandwiches, and entrees. Kara packages the hand cut greens in clamshells with coffee filters lining the shell to absorb excess moisture. They are delivered weekly. Her trademarked motto is “Big Flavors in Small Packages.”

Started in 2008 in her garage, Kara now has a thriving “green business” in which these caviar greens, as she also calls them, are planted on a rotating basis and watered with a specially designed wand using a thin spray of water. It is called a rain cane and is inexpensive and water-friendly. (The rain cane is a special hand-held wand invented by Ross Shrigley that seems to be very ecological. (Google Ross Shrigley/rain cane for You Tube demos or go to www.raincane.com) The soil is from a local farmer and after the harvest, the stems and soil are composted. This business truly reflects the concept of small is beautiful and bountiful.

As a former co-owner of a soil-free sprouting operation in the 1980s and early 1990s, also started in our garage, I know how intense this operation is, much like a dairy farmer that has to milk all the cows daily, no exceptions! The planting is done on a rotating basis, so there are always greens to water and harvest. Watering is two to three times daily, depending on the season, using the rain cane described above.

If you go to the website, http://www.bloommicrogreens.com, you can click on the Products category to see all the varieties available as well as more photos of this micro-business. There are also other categories to explore: Recipes, Testimonials, and additional information about Kara and the company. I think you will find the information interesting and exciting. Kara’s company is growing an enormous amount of greens in a very small space and making it a thriving business.

In addition, Kara is a new mom with two older children and is “sprouting” the business almost single-handedly, with part-time help from Laura and Kara’s two older children. The name of her company is perfect, because she “blooms” with enthusiasm and energy, as both my husband and I noticed right away. While interviewing Kara on a beautiful California morning, she excused herself to check on her baby daughter sleeping soundly nearby. She started the business as a single mom, and is now remarried with a baby. Kara’s husband is a contractor and is supportive of Kara’s endeavors.

To me, Bloom is a wonderful example of a woman-owned business that has a positive impact on the food industry and the environment. From what I learned, I believe that there is plenty of “room to bloom,” as Kara would like to expand her business to include kits to provide customers the ability to grow their own organic microgreens at home. For those of us living in the colder climates, this would allow us to have fresh greens year round. Kara may just be at the brink of her own bountiful green revolution!

P.S. before leaving, Kara packed us enough microgreens for a party! We ate them as a salad at my daughter’s for dinner. Then I left half the greens for my daughter, who loves sprouts, and took my half to L.A. on the last leg of our trip. They lasted another six days and were delicious!

 

*My subtitle is a spin-off of a book I read 25 years ago called Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E.F. Schumacher, first published in 1989 and still available in print.

+The photos of microgreens are from the Internet. My photos taken @ Bloom seem to have disappeared from my camera!

 

Tai Chi at Any Age 

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Note: This article belongs both in Profiles and Health Flashes, but I wanted to highlight Emily Parkin, so I chose Profiles.

Emily Parkin, age 94, started tai chi when she was 85. She also played tennis until she broke her femur at age 88 and only discontinued playing golf two years ago at age 92 because of bad knees. But I see her at tai chi each week and think she is amazing! Who says you can’t teach an old broad new tricks? Not Emily!

Emily doing tai chi @ 94! She also helps assists teaching newcomers to tai chi.

When I asked her why she continues to come to tai chi, she said, “Not sure what would happen to my body if I stopped.” She finds it meditative, relaxing, and helpful for her balance as well as her brain.

Her comments are a perfect segue to the benefits of tai chi, often called “meditation in motion,” which originated in China as a martial art.

According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch (www.health.harvard.edu), tai chi might also be called “medication in motion,” since it has value to both treat and prevent many health problems. In an article from a blog called Ask Well, this mind/body /spirit exercise program could be an effective method to help reduce the risk of heart disease.

While there are not a great many trials about tai chi and heart disease, this article emphasizes that several of the studies show that tai chi “can reduce certain risk factors, especially those related to cholesterol and triglycerides, increased levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and slower heart rates.

Because tai chi is quite different from most other kinds of exercise, that is, its “low impact, slow-motion exercise,” as the Harvard article notes, many people may think there are no real benefits. However, Harvard makes a good case for the fact that the movements (circular and relaxed rather than tensed, not fully extending or bending the joints, and no stretching of the connective tissue) make tai chi ideal for prevention and rehabilitation of many conditions that we associate with aging well.

What I find really encouraging is that the women and men who come to the Narberth (Senior) Center are almost all senior citizens with a positive outlook on fitness and a willingness to learn the Qi Gong exercises and the tai chi form that our senior citizen teacher, Barbara Lorenz, presents to us each week, sequentially in manageable increments.

Our tai chi teacher, Barbara Lorenz

Barbara has been involved with tai chi since the mid-1990s and was certified in 2005. Before that, she assisted her instructor and “developed a passion for tai chi and the multiple benefits it offered and wanted to pass this knowledge on through teaching…..She notes that her “greatest thrill of all is to see students making a commitment to tai chi and returning to class for more tai chi and especially when they tell me it is helping them…..The mind tells the body what to do and not vice versa, then the spirit follows and you reach a point, after leaning the form, where you just “let go” and enjoy the beauty of meditation in motion—-tai chi!”

As a health-minded person and student of tai chi, I enjoy seeing so many of us, coming back week after week, year after year, staying with tai chi until the form becomes a natural extension of their mind/body/spirit concentration. Some of us sit to do some of the exercises because our backs or legs are not quite so strong as we’d like. The flexibility of being able to do some seated exercises makes it attractive to many of the participants.

And when I see my 94-year-old role model, Emily, taking tai chi, I think, “If she can do this, so can I!” because, as our teacher Barbara notes, tai chi requires a “commitment and… a great deal of concentration, slowing the body down and entering what is called the ‘flow.'” So it may not be for everyone, but certainly age need not be a deterrent.

The tai chi group has become a community within the center, talking before and after class, having a holiday party, doing tai chi in the park in the summer, and generally having a great time while we move. Here are some comments from several of the students in our class when I asked at the holiday party in December, “Why do you come to tai chi?”

To quiet the mind, improve the balance, and enrich the spirit Susan

A form of exercise, and to improve my balance. Didn’t know it would be social–that’s great! — Grace

I’m amazed that I can still learn something new–coordinating mind and body. Also, the camaraderie is wonderful. Maxine

I have been advised by my doctors that it is the best thing for my chronic vertigo. Also, I enjoy the people and, especially, Barbara’s leadership. Bill (One of the few brave men who comes weekly.)

The parties! Anne

Tai Chi improved my balance Elaine

I love the meditative effect–it feels so spiritual and graceful and I love Barbara and what she brings to this group. — Anonymous

As you can see, my tai chi buddy Roz is meditating while doing tai chi….perfect example of meditation in motion! Get moving……..

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