We strive to make smart and productive growing environments for agricultural businesses of all kinds. Even if they are micro.
We paid a visit to our growers at Emerald Gardens Microgreens to see how their HighYield™ Commercial Greenhouse Kit was performing for them. Even though their Ceres greenhouse is not fully complete, Emerald Gardens is already seeing positive results from their sun-grown operation. We caught up with the growing team at EG to learn how their microgreens production is benefitting from their passive solar greenhouse.
Emerald Gardens Farm is located in Bennett, Colorado, just east of Denver International Airport. The farm was started as a way to improve people’s health through fresh produce, and today they are involved in many community-based agriculture projects. On top of their normal grocery store distribution, EG works with organizations in Denver to figure out how to give nutrient dense microgreens to communities that need them the most. They also sell their greens to Lucky’s Market and other local grocery stores along the front range of Colorado. You can check out their website here for more about their story.
Microgreens are shoots of edible fruits and vegetables. What they lack in size they make up for in concentrated nutrients and flavor. They can be eaten alone or added to a dish for a fresher taste.
Currently EG’s greenhouse is a sunlight only operation, meaning no supplemental lighting is used for propagation. They can function like this because the greenhouse is designed for light harvesting, meaning the reflectiveness of the insulated north wall allows the microgreens to capture sunlight from all angles. In fact, they showed us that the microgreens in the shade were growing just as well, if not better, than the microgreens in direct sunlight.
Last year Emerald Gardens grew their microgreens indoor with lights. Since converting to a greenhouse operation, they have not only seen higher propagation rates, but the plants are more robust and nutritious. They did mention that in the Winter, when the days are short, they will be experimenting with supplemental lighting. Even so, the growers don’t need lighting for the majority of the year, helping them save on electricity costs.
This is Emerald Garden’s microgreen grow system. The plants grow on a mat and water is flooded through the trays and drained on the other side of the greenhouse. There is a recirculating pump that is continually pumping water back up from the water reservoir through the microgreens system, using only 20-25 gallons of water a day – a minimal amount.
Another reason that Emerald Gardens chose to go with Ceres was because of their rural location. They can keep utility usage low because our passive solar greenhouse design combined with the efficiency of our GAHT™ (ground to air heat transfer) system minimizes their heating needs. Right now they only use power only for heating and cooling and exhaust fans (although they will need added electricity for lighting in the Winter). To top it off, they will be using solar power to supply the majority of their electrical needs. While this type of setup is considered “low-tech”, the fact that it yields more than what their indoor grow did speaks for itself.
We enjoyed the challenge of designing a greenhouse for the unique purpose of microgreen propagation, while learning about inspirational projects that Emerald Greens is working on. If you’re wondering whether your farm could benefit from a year-round, passive solar greenhouse, contact us. We’d love to discuss your project and business goals with you.