Exploring a sustainable and nutrient-dense growing style
While our vision is broader, most of Farmwall's day-to-day activities revolve around growing microgreens via aquaponics. In classrooms, offices, venues and homes, we supply the materials and information people need to grow their own mini-vegetables and herbs. Microgreens are quick and easy to grow, and can be added to a wide variety of dishes - but why do we think they are a great part of moving towards a secure and sustainable food system, and promoting healthier lifestyles for people?
- Less water
- Minimal, sustainable fertiliser
- No food miles
- 40x the nutrients of mature veggies
- Many different varieties
Microgreens are immature vegetables, harvested soon after the appearance of their first two leaves. A huge number can be produced in relatively little space, because they are planted in a dense mat, not requiring as much space as adult veggies, and they can be grown and harvested on a rolling basis - they only need a few days to germinate, and then around a week of growing before they are ready to harvest.
Because microgreens are so small, they also use less water than is required to bring a plant to maturity. In the Farmwall system, the only fertiliser they require is produced by the fish - we can stay away from the fossil fuel-based fertilisers used in much industrial-scale vegetable production.
Relatively large crops of microgreens can be grown in spaces not generally seen as appropriate for agricultural production, specifically indoors. This drastically reduces the time and resources it takes to get vegetables from where they were grown to your plate - instead of polluting trucking, they are simply snipped off and carried to the kitchen.
Microgreens are also great for many aspects of human health! Eating your veggies is always good, but these tiny greens, by weight, are packed with 40x the nutrients found in full grown vegetables. This is because the nutrients which would still be there later are concentrated at this stage in their lives, not as spread out around a larger plant. A serve of microgreens packs a massive nutritional punch, and a Farmwall system can produce up to 240 serves each week!
The presence of growing things within particularly office spaces is also known to be important for mental health and wellbeing. Biophilia is an idea which suggests that humans have an intrinsic connection with other living things, and benefit from their presence in our spaces and lives. This idea is often implemented in planning and design to achieve the best possible health outcomes. The ability for microgreens to be grown in offices means they have great potential to contribute to wellbeing in a space through biophilia, as well as providing fresh and healthy food for people.
Don't just take our word for it! Nutritional and agricultural research shows that microgreens are great for you and for the planet:
"Sprouted seeds and microgreens are often more nutrient-dense than ungerminated seeds or mature vegetables. ... Due to their short growth cycle, nutrient-dense sprouts and microgreens can be produced with minimal input; without pesticides, they can even be home-grown and harvested as needed, hence having low environmental impacts and a broad acceptance among health-conscious consumers."
Ebert, A 2022, 'Sprouts and Microgreens - Novel Food Sources for Healthy Diets,' Plants, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 571.
"Microgreens play an increasingly vital role in health-promoting diets. They are considered good sources of nutritional and bioactive compounds, and show potential in the prevention of malnutrition and chronic diseases. Some strategies in the pre- or post-harvest stages of microgreens can be further applied to obtain better nutritional, functional, and sensorial quality with freshness and extended shelf life."
Teng, J, Liao, P and Wang, M 2021, 'The role of emerging micro-scale vegetables in human diet and health benefits - an updated review based on microgreens,' Food & Function, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 1914-1932.
"Although they are small, microgreens have delicate textures, distinctive flavours, and various nutrients. In general, microgreens contain greater amounts of nutrients and health-promoting micronutrients than their mature counterparts. Because microgreens are rich in nutrients, smaller amounts may provide similar nutritional effects compared to larger quantities of mature vegetables."
Choe, U, Yu, L and Wang, T 2018, 'The Science behind Microgreens as an Exciting New Food for the 21st Century,' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 66, no. 44, pp. 11519-11530.