COVID-19 has disrupted most corners of the business world, but for Greg and Dawna of Lake View Farms, business is just getting started.
The two started their microgreen business two months ago, and as new arrivals to the Vernon Farmer’s Market they’re helping to introduce locals to the tiny greens, which range from radish and sunflower shoots to edible flowers.
“Everything we sell is less than 10 days old, so they’re highly nutritious,” said Dawna. “We harvest them the night before and bring them in fresh the next day.”
Studies have found microgreens to be up to 40 per cent more nutritious than the adult vegetable, she explained.
“They’re really good for people who have compromised immune systems or health challenges because they’re beneficial to their health.”
For Greg, the health benefits are even greater. With every order of two microgreens or more, he gets to hop on his E-bike for some exercise.
“When we started to grow microgreens, we decided Greg would deliver them on his E-bike to local people in Vernon,” Dawna said.
Home delivery is in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the market at large, Lake View Farms takes extra precautions to ensure business is done safely.
“We launder our money,” Greg said. In this case that means any physical currency received is given a soapy wash before making its way to the next customer.
Products can be ordered online at lakeviewfarms.ca. For those unsure about how to use microgreens, Lake View Farms has plenty of recipes to try out.
“One of our favourites is avocado toast with either poached or hard-boiled eggs and then some shoots on top, or our famous house salad which is a red cabbage salad with apple and red onion and grapefruit with a nice cranberry vinaigrette.”
The market grounds have been clearly marked for one-way foot traffic, and stalls have been pushed back to avoid groups from forming. Staff keep count of the number of people in the market at one time, and along the market walkway are stations with hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes.
Things look different this year, in part because there are half as many vendors as there would be under normal circumstances. Only food vendors have been deemed essential services by provincial health authorities.
“It’s just sad for all our friends who do the crafts and other stuff, that they can’t be here, because that’s their whole income too,” said Nick Forrester of Ghostly Garlic.
Even the handmade soap vendors have been told they can’t set up shop.
“You’d think that with all this handwashing that soap would be kind of essential,” said Forrester.
Fewer vendors means less income for the market as a whole, which has had to dip into savings to cover costs. But manager Ingrid Baron says one way or another, the market must go on.
“We have to make it work. The farmers are essential to our food security, and if they keep talking about food supply chains going crazy, we need to have this.”
The Vernon Farmer’s Market is open Mondays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information and a list of vendors, visit vernonfarmersmarket.ca.