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!