US (WA): Microgreens business turns bountiful during pandemic

Patrick Brown, the co-founder of Moms Micro Garden in Buckley, never imagined the difference the company’s microgreens could make. The business, which grows and supplies microgreens, was started by Brown and his wife, Rachel, and sparked from an idea after his mom contracted E. coli from tainted lettuce a few years ago.

He says after that, his mother became an avid gardener to grow her own food and soon encouraged him to grow microgreens as a side venture to his regular restaurant management work.

The possibilities, and flavor punch produced by the tiny greens, are bountiful. “We’re growing cantaloupe microgreens right now. They taste just like cantaloupe, it’s absolutely nuts,” he said.

According to Brown, the business started to take off before the pandemic. “I could run my business three days a week and work my job four days a week, and I had plenty of flexibility,” he said. Then came COVID-19 and widespread shutdowns among restaurants. With no idea when or if restaurant work would come back, the couple delved into making microgreens their full-time focus.

“We were growing microgreens for ourselves to literally pinch pennies and save money on groceries because we had all the equipment in our garage,” Brown said. “We had the seeds, we had the soil, and we were like, ‘I don’t know when the next stimulus check is coming.’”

So it became a business to offer microgreens via home delivery, then farmer’s markets. Now, customers can get the greens at the two Harbor Greens grocery stores in Pierce County (University Place and Gig Harbor).

“We self-distribute from Gig Harbor all the way to Edmonds, twice a week,” Brown said. “We do about 60 deliveries a week. We do 10 farmers markets. We have a commercial lease on a greenhouse next to The Market,” (formerly the Bonney Lake Food Bank) on state Route 410.

Contrary to what other companies have experienced in trying to find workers to support the area’s supply chain in recent months, Brown says he’s filled up with a staff of five; two working full-time, and three part-time.

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