Boston Microgreens:

From humble to high-tech in a matter of a few years

Boston Microgreens is a futuristic farm. Its 2,000-square-foot space in South Boston is a maze of five-level racks covered in trays of minuscule rainbow plants, which are grown, watered, and harvested on an automated schedule.

The company began in the living room of cofounder Oliver Homberg’s apartment in 2017. Homberg, a Northeastern University graduate who majored in international affairs with a focus on sustainable development, nurtured a longtime affection for plants, and he and his roommate, cofounder Matt Alto (who has since left the company) saw the burgeoning potential of microgreens.

“We saw a YouTube video that was literally like, ‘Grow microgreens in your apartment, make $100,000 in a year,’” said Homberg, 26, in an interview. “We were like, OK, maybe we won’t make $100,000, but this seems like something interesting.”

It wasn’t until February 2019 that Boston Microgreens moved out of Homberg’s home and into the space on West Broadway. Before moving, the company cultivated relationships with about a dozen restaurants, limiting them to those in Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge to ensure freshness.

Booming business, Homberg said, can be attributed to the technology, namely an app, that Boston Microgreens uses to manage the farm. The Microgreens Grow App was initially developed by volunteers and co-ops from Northeastern, but will soon be relaunched as software to be used by other farms, Homberg said. There are plans to put the app in beta testing by the end of the year. “It’s a glorified calculator,” Homberg said. “The chefs can go in, they can select what product they want, what day they want it, what format, and they can type it in on a calendar, and then they schedule the order, and for us in the backend, it just spits out everything we need to do.” 

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