Luntian Farms Offers Microgreens that You can Cut and Consume As NeededApril 22, 2017
Mark and Kathy Roldan never intended to get into the microgreens business. Both in real estate development, and Mark with a family and college background in agriculture business, they are both admittedly research nerds who spend a lot of time on google, and their interest (and thus research) in microgreens started 5 years ago, merely to satiate their curiosity. Their decision to grow of microgreens initially started as a parental ploy to get their kids to consume more vegetables. “[They didn’t notice] once we infuse it with our food, or even in some of their sandwiches. But when you look at the nutrient content of each one, it’s way higher than the mature plant.” After growing their own microgreens and talking to chefs about the ingredients (Kathy bakes while Mark cooks; they both grew up very familiar in the kitchen), they decided to officially set up shop, and took first orders under Luntian Farms just last December.
But what are microgreens to begin with? They are essentially the shoots of salad vegetables, and because of their ‘immaturity’, their taste differs from the full-grown greens—and Mark points out that they pack a harder nutritional punch than their mature counterparts. The Roldans show us their green and red amaranth, arugula (one of their favorites for its spicy, peppery kick), mizuno, mustard and kale, though they offer many more greens, including coriander, basil, fennel, dill, mint, parsley, golden chives, popcorn shoots, chives, radish, and so on. And they grow these all in their indoor environment, telling us that the flavor is much more potent when cultivated in their “cultured environment” as opposed to when they grew them outdoors in the farm. This also protects their produce from weather fluctuations, which allow them to offer their organically-grown microgreens at the same price year round.
Unlike with their children, with whom they snuck the greens into their everyday food with the intention of them not noticing (though they now tell us that their kids have learned to love the flavors of the microgreens), they want the exact opposite from their partners in restaurants. Though microgreens are most typically seen as garnish to soup, where their flavors are not in the forefront, Mark aims to collaborate with chefs for new and exciting ways to present the greens, and encourages chefs to try the greens before they make purchases and really think of dishes where their flavors will be celebrated instead of disguised. They also tend towards adding the greens to raw instead of cooked, which they tell us tends to weaken the flavors of the greens.
“[We’re not your] typical supplier farmers [where we] just gives it to you [and] bahala ka na sa buhay mo. Kami, once we deliver it to you, I train your kitchen staff how to take care of it, I actually look for a place in your kitchen wherein you can actually put it . . . I try to impart to them care and instructions for one whole week.” Aside from training the kitchens to care for the greens, they try to promote zero waste so that none of the microgreens go to waste. Mark also tells us that they surprised a chef by advising him to reduce his weekly order from Luntian Farms so as to reduce their food waste, which is one of their ultimate pet peeves. Currently, the Roldans are in the process of shifting their energy source for their indoor microgreen farm to renewable.
They hope to develop more local microgreens, and are currently working on a micro-alugbati. This year, they hope to roll out a new project that they started working on last February called Sibol , where they develop microgreen grow kits for children to study and understand where their food comes from. They intend to begin the project in public schools in the new school year.
Luntian Farms provides wholesale microgreens to restaurants.