Sunday, July 9, 2017

Microgreens, Vegetables and Other Good Stuff: An Interview with Susie

garnish: a decoration or embellishment, especially for food.

A couple years ago Susie, my wife of nearly 38 years, set up grow lights in the upstairs room where my son lived until he left home. An empty nest means more room, and in our case his room initially became a nice space for Susie's art supplies. Eventually, however, another idea struck, primarily because of her DNA which includes the gene for green thumbs. (Her parents met at the Duluth Farmers Market, both sets of grandparents sold there.) For the past two years she's been growing microgreens up there. Not only do they make a great garnish, they have excellent health benefits. For this reason, and because it's the beginning of the Farmers Market season, I thought it would make an interesting and educational topic for today's blog post.

EN: What prompted you to start growing microgreens?

Susie Newman: My son Micah is a chef who notices any new foods on the market. One day a couple years ago he brought over some pea shoots. They tasted just like tender peas and I thought I should try growing them some time. Not long after that, one day when there was still snow on the ground, a friend asked me if I grow microgreens. I wondered why in the world I was not doing that yet. I love dirt and green growing things! I ordered some grow lights and seeds and began planting as soon as they arrived.

EN: What are microgreens? How are they different from other greens or sprouts?

SN: Sprouts are seeds sprouted with water and without using soil. Microgreens are grown in soil. You plant lots of seeds very thickly. When they come up and are maybe 1-2 inches high I bring them down to my kitchen counter where they are easy to snip off with a scissors when I want to use some. Regular greens are a much older and more developed plant. Microgreens have a higher nutritional value than the mature plant.

EN: How do people use microgreens in cooking or making meals?

SN: They are popular with chefs in fine dining establishments as a garnish. They look great on top of eggs, a sandwich, meat, soup, just about anything. They have a similar taste to the mature vegetable.. in other words, radish micros are a bit spicy, kale taste like mild kale, cilantro micros are great on a Mexican dish.

EN: What other kinds of things are you selling at the Hermantown Farmer's Market this year?

Wrapping paper.
SN: I plan to have a variety of purple vegetables at my stand later this summer. I have really enjoyed the Purple Majesty Potato I've been growing for the last couple years. They stay a deep purple after cooking. Purple foods are known to have a high antioxidant content which has many health benefits. Antioxidants boost your immune system, reduce inflammation, and fight aging and disease, including cancer and heart disease. Basically, The darker the fruit or vegetable, the more antioxidants it has, and the healthier it is for you. However, my garden is off to a late start and for now I am selling some crafts. Goose feather quill pens, greeting cards with "artvelopes," hand painted wrapping paper, and tie-dye items. I am also offering an inexpensive easy craft/art project for kids.

Goose quill pens are chic. Makes a great gift for artists.
EN: You've been around gardens all your life. What is it that makes gardening so special?

Susie, age 6, transplanting in
her father's greenhouse.
SN: Getting out in nature feels great! My dad was still gardening up until a few months before he died at 94. I believe it kept him healthy and contributed to his long life. It is fulfilling to produce a lot of my own food.

I started working in my dad's greenhouse for pay when I was about 5. My siblings and I picked vegetables all summer to sell at the Farm Market. For some reason I didn't get tired of it, even though, at the time, I didn't always enjoy such hard work.

EN: Why do so many people not eat their vegetables and what are your favorites?

SN: I believe that most kids who have experienced planting and harvesting a garden have enjoyed eating their produce. Others who have been served canned vegetables are very unlucky people. 😉  I have happy memories of riding my bike "way out back" to the gardens my dad and uncle had planted and filling my stomach and my pockets with fresh raw sweet juicy garden peas, the best food nature has ever come up with, in my opinion! I won't be selling any because i will want them all for myself. However you will find some at the other stands at the Farm Market, as well as a large variety of fresh vegetables.

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Visit this page for more information on garnishes.

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Farmers Markets have been blossoming in the Twin Ports in recent years. Here are a variety of places when you can find locally grown fresh produce and other local products. Susie will be at the Hermantown Farmers Market on Mondays.

Mondays, 3:30 – 7:00 p.m. Hermantown Farmers Market, 5255 Maple Grove Road, East side of Old Hermantown City Hall, July 3 –Sept 25

Tuesdays, 3-7 p.m, Hilltop Farmers Market, First United Methodist Church, (Copper Top), 230 E. Skyline Parkway (formerly @ UMD)

Wednesdays, 2-6 p.m., Duluth Farmers Market, 14th Avenue E. & 3rd Street

Thursdays, 4-7 p.m., Lincoln Park Farmers Market, Harrison Community Center, 3002 W. 3rd St.

Saturdays, 7 a.m.-12 p.m., Duluth Farmers Market, 14th Avenue E. & 3rd Street 

Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12 p.m., Barkers Island Farmers Market, parking lot near the S.S. Meteor at Hwy 2/53 and Marina Drive in Superior, WI

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Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it. (And don't forget to eat your greens.) ðŸ˜‰ 😉 😉

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