We interview Ben Wild of Wild Greens Farm producers of MicroGreens
by Blue Fletcher/29th-August-2020
Lets find out more about Micro Greens and a sustainable farm
So before we start do you want to tell us a bit more about Wild Greens Farm and what you guys do?
Well we are a farm that produces microgreens, pea shoots, edible flowers, that kind of thing for the restaurant industry.
Yes, so I was going to say, I know microgreens are very popular within the fine dining sector. What exactly are they, how are they different from other crops? and why are they so popular?
Microgreens are a quick growing crop so they are the same seed as a fully grown vegetable but we harvest them at the two week stage rather than the four month stage (when it grows into a full-grown veg). So, a micro-green is mainly for decoration on plates but it does pack a punch of flavour and it is full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
Ah they sound delicious.
They really are
Image of Ben Wild inspecting his Watercress
I know you don’t only stick to microgreens; I’ve seen [that] you do a couple of other products. What are they?
Well we started with microgreens but as the business has progressed, we’ve spoken to more chefs that wanted a different range. So, we went into pea-shoots which is our power most popular one, and an edible flowers and most recently we’ve gone into herb-oils as well.
Oh wow, and I’ve also seen that you do ‘grow your own at home’ is that something that’s become popular recently or is that always been [sold]?
It’s always been on the back burner and just on our website. We’ve never really pushed it but during the lockdown and it went mental.
I can imagine.
So, we pushed it online during lockdown and since then it’s just really good. We started off because you can’t buy microgreens in more supermarkets, but because of the health benefits for them, we wanted people to grow their own at home easily. So we put a kit together, we’ve got the trays, the compost, the seeds and now people can grow their own, on their own windowsill at home.
That’s quite an amazing thing just to have growing. Normally people have herbs and basil, but microgreens that’s quite different, I like it.
It is, I mean when we first started it, we used black, plastic trays which we still use but we’ve developed our website. Now on there is the pulp compatible and biodegradable pots.
Wow, that goes on that goes on to my next question. Is sustainability a driving force? Which it obviously is a big factor [for Wild Greens Farm].
It really is. We hate to use plastic, but we’ve got to be in guidance with the food regulations. It’s so difficult for us to find packaging for our products that comply with the legislation and with everything that the Food Standards have set out. For example, our pea shoots, we put in pulp punnets now rather than a plastic punnets. So, it’s a biodegradable or compostable punnet that it’s in, with a recyclable lid.
That’s really cool.
It is but the only place that we can get these from is a is a company called earth cycle in Canada, which kind of defeats the object of keeping our carbon footprint low.
I can imagine it’s a lot more attractive to customers as well, when they see on the website that the products are fully compostable. That must be a selling point also.
It is, it’s more for our peace of mind though, more than anything else. I can see where the world is going, the world is trying it’s best to get rid of plastic and we just want to be a part of that.
Ah that’s really great to hear though. It’s quite nice to hear, especially smaller businesses where money is quite a big thing. It’s quite nice to hear that other people are going out of their way to try and get those [sustainable] things.
I mean on the sustainability side of it, when we first started, we were delivering to restaurants ourselves and it was putting quite a large footprint on us.
Now we only deal with wholesalers and the wholesalers pick up from us. So our carbon footprint is non-existent,
other than the companies coming to us to pick up and then going back, rather than us driving around the country and doing it that way.
That’s a great idea, yeah, it makes complete sense. I’m aware that your planning to extend your sustainability into your growing methods also. Tell me a little bit about that.
Well, next year we are planning on using renewable energy, our current energy supplier is a green energy supplier, but we would like to source our own. Whether it be solar or wind, we don’t know yet but we are definitely going to do something with our infrastructure next year. Also with water as well, we are still trying to go through the finer details of it, because its food. We could use the rainwater, filtering it if we can in some way. [Ultimately] using the rainwater rather than using tap water.
That sounds very exciting. A challenge definitely, but I’m sure the rewards would be great once you’ve managed to get to that point of doing it all yourself.
And obviously in the previous months the hospitality [sector] has taken a hit from lockdown. What have you guys been up to and how has it changed the way that you operate?
Well, when it first happened, when the government said that the lockdown and restaurants were closed, we lost thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of product.
We couldn’t even give it away, we had that much. And because it grows so quick, if you plant a seed, literally 2 weeks later it’s harvested. We had so much, its not even like we had a little bit. It was devastating when that happened. But fast forward a few weeks after that and we started to really push our online side, that’s gone really well. Coming back into it now, the restaurants are starting to open, and we’ve just hit the ground running straight away. It’s almost like the restaurants are back open, back up to speed. We don’t know what the future holds.
That’s amazing to hear though.
Thank you so much for being on the podcast, I’ve enjoyed very much hearing about Wild Greens Farm. Do you want to tell everyone where they can find you online?
Of course, you can find us online on our website www.wildgreens.co.uk.
Brilliant, thank you very much.
Above images; Micro Greens sells seed packets to grow your own Micro Greens. Also, colourful edible flowers. And lastly Micro Green kits!