MicroGiants: Small greens growing into good business for Gahanna couple
A healthful lifestyle was part of the lives of Nate and Whitney Lundquist long before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the situation expedited their pursuit in urban farming.
The couple launched MicroGiants, an urban-vertical farm where they grow microgreens (shoots of vegetable plants), in March at their residence in the Gahanna's Gramercy Park Estates neighborhood.
Their oldest daughter, Ruth, was diagnosed with a rare liver disease and required a transplant when she was 5.
"She's immune suppressed," Whitney Lundquist said. "We've lived the COVID lifestyle a long time."
Ruth, who soon will celebrate her 10th birthday, is one of three children with siblings Emery, 7, and Bear, 5.
"It drove us into practical action over the years," Whitney Lundquist said. "We eat greens to fortify our own health. Her (Ruth's) diet and being health-conscious for her has been very important. Nate has a normal garden in the back yard. Every year he has expanded it."
When the pandemic hit, Nate Lundquist said his production agency, FrameWork Visuals, suffered.
"I was making videos and advertising other brands," he said. "When business died overnight, I thought there's this great need in the world to protect the health of all of us. A friend of mine and I had toyed with doing urban farming. It was good for my soul, getting my hands in the dirt."
He plants on Fridays and the harvest takes place two Mondays later.
Whitney Lundquist delivers the microgreens on Tuesdays to customers in east Columbus including Blacklick, Gahanna, New Albany, Reynoldsburg and Westerville.
Nate Lundquist said the variety pack, containing shoots of sunflower, pea and radish, is the most popular selection.
"All these would grow up to be full-grown vegetable plants, but microgreens are harvested when they are only about a week old," he said.
"So, the reason for microgreens is first of all, they're insanely nutrient dense. A study from the University of Maryland showed they are up to 40 times the amount of nutrients per gram as full-grown vegetables. So they're really, really high in nutrients and really important for protecting immune systems."
Best of all, he said, they are delicious.
One customer on Twitter described using the farm's microgreens in smoothies, salads, sauces and snacks.
Whitney Lundquist said the sunflower shoots taste nutty and crunchy while the pea shoots taste sugary.
Nate Lundquist, a 2005 Hilliard Davidson High School graduate, said they serve 20 regular subscribers, with a goal of 60 to 80.
A weekly delivery subscription program is available at microgiants.co.
Delivery direct to a customer's house is within 24 hours of harvest, so the microgreens are as fresh as possible, he said.
Any order over $20 is delivered free of charge.
"We do direct-to-consumer," he said. "We like to build a relationship with all our clients."
Nate Lundquist said growing the microgreens takes some finesse to get the right climate, temperature, humidity, airflow and light.
He said his urban farm will be climate-controlled year-round.
"We don't use any pesticides or chemicals of any kind, "he said. "That is an advantage of growing inside."
Going into fall when fresh, local produce goes out of season, MicroGiants will keep producing and delivering and doing so all year, he said.
He said he hasn't had a meal that has not tasted better with some greens on top.
In addition to the ordering information on the website, he said, recipes will be available.