Your Personal Specialty Farm
Freshness in your city: Boston Microgreens has brought the from farm to table saying even closer to the urban landscape. Operating in South Boston, Boston Microgreens has made a name for itself by tailoring its supply to you, the customer, through more modern, sustainable farming techniques in the heart of the city. The company's owner, Oliver Homberg, established Boston Microgreens after years of missing the quality of fresh and organic ingredients that he found during his childhood. Oliver, a German immigrant to the United States, became committed to supplying the city's best restaurants with more sustainably-grown and organic ingredients without having to rely on large, industrial means to produce high-quality microgreens. Oliver's first planting experiments in his apartment have taken him to new horizons, allowing him to establish a fully-operating flood table growing facility that uses 95% less water and significantly less soil than traditional agricultural methods right in the heart of Boston.
Though Boston Microgreens has grown and sold over 40 different varieties of Microgreens, from Anise Hyssop to over 5 types of mustard greens, the company is dedicated to growing to your needs; as Oliver says: If it’s not on our menu, hit me up, we’ll order the seeds and get it growing!
The company now caters to over 30 restaurants at any given time, and is devoted to giving back to the local community by donating any left-over grow medium to the local community garden to encourage other urban farmers to join the sustainable urban farming movement. In addition to contributing to local farming efforts, Boston Microgreens donates 2% of all profits to local food-based charities that aim to feed those in need.
Urbanfoodstories was lucky enough to be able to visit the Boston Microgreen growing facility to ask Oliver about his motivation, ambition and future plans for Boston Microgreens and the importance of local, urban farming:
Q. How do you choose which Microgreen to grow? What if a restaurant asks you for something you don’t yet grow?
A: If it’s micro, we’ll grow it.
I grow Chinese mahogany trees, and they have an amazing onion flavor and cool aroma. We are like your personal urban farm, and that’s how we market ourselves, and that’s why we charge more than anyone else. We are fulfilling the chef’s vision. We are giving them the paintbrushes and colours to live out their passion. I always tell them: ‘if it’s not on our menu, hit me up, we’ll order the seeds and get it growing!”
“The way we chose how to grow all of this is just by talking to chefs: “What do you want? What are you buying? What do you need?”
There are some things like cilantro, for example, that holds up very well, commercially, so one of the main reasons that we are successful is because we are local and we can provide this product so fresh. By nature, cilantro grows really well, which makes it easier to produce in large quantities, but chefs still come and buy our cilantro because they really appreciate the distinct flavours of our varieties.
Q. Are all of your systems and flood tables automated with scheduled watering and lighting times?
A. It’s not smart-automated in the sense that it knows when the soil needs water. We are working on that, in the future, but right now, every level has its own schedule that you can set. Everything is wired to a Wifi-relay switch that we can access through an application on our phones. For example, we can tell the system: ‘rack 1, left-side, level 2, I want that water to come on every Monday and Wednesday, for three minutes at 2:55 PM.’
In the future, there will be soil humidity monitors.
Q. Do you think that this farming model and system will be one that we will need to use in the future to grow food sustainably for more people?
A. We are producing a super nutrient rich food, using 95% less water. The only problem is that we are currently discounting one of the biggest free resources, which is sunlight. Everything that we do is powered through renewable energies, but the sun is a big resource that we aim to use in the future through greenhouse and hydroponic systems.
Q. What is your favourite part about the work that you do?
A. What I like the most is the actual plant-work; that is what fascinated me about this is “okay, we get to grow these really cool microgreens.” As the business has grown, my work has involved more management and administrative tasks to ensure that our greens are getting to our customers in a timely manner, but my passion is still within the actual growing process of our greens.
Q. What is your goal? Where do you see yourself taking Boston Microgreens?
A. I think the only way that we’ll grow is through developing our technology, and by spreading our business to different cities. I would want to see an ‘L.A. Microgreens’, a ‘New York Microgreens’, a 'Dubai Microgreens'…etc.
As we can see, Oliver envisions the potential of micro-green vertical farming as greater than the sum of its parts. He has a clear dedication to, and passion for, sustainable growing, and considers the way we source and eat our food to be apart of a global sustainability goal that the next generation aims to cultivate. While Boston Microgreens only currently operates in Massachussetts, Oliver has set his sights set beyond borders so as to render our world's cities self-sustaining and energy-efficient, while bringing the average city-dweller closer than ever to nature and its vast array of delicious microgreens.
Oliver Homberg, founder and owner of
Different varieties of microgreens grown by the company:
-Top left: Red Veined Sorrel
-Top right: (L) Miz America Mustard and Shungiku
-Bottom left: 'Empress of India' Nasturtium
-Bottom right: Bull's Blood Beets
Cucamelon: Mexican Sour Gherkin variety
Boston Microgreens regularly donates any leftover grow-medium to the local community gardens of South Boston, full of rich nutrients and roots to help aspiring farmers in the area feed themselves and their community
Boston Microgreens' fresh delivery on four wheels, delivering quality ingredients to its ever-growing list of customers
State-of-the-art and original flood table technology developed by Oliver Homberg