If good things come in small packages, be sure to take a look at Eternal Bloom’s micro greens.
These little plants, grown from nongenetically modified seeds in an especially rich soil blend, add flavor, crunch, beauty and nutrition to any dish. Or you can simply eat ‘em by the handful.
Andrew Jensen and Anais Carrera have been growing their micro greens farming business for the past five years — in a Pueblo home and at a partner’s site in Colorado Springs, and before that in Montana and California.
The nutrition-packed greens — think sprouts but slightly bigger, about 2 inches high — are 100-percent certified organic and non-GMO.
“You never have to be concerned with harsh chemicals, cross contamination or unsound practices,” Jensen said. “In everything we do, the goal is to heal and promote well-being for all, including trying to be sustainable in our practice to better the Earth, also. Our soil is certified organic and blended into living super soils, meaning it is exactly as nature intended and allows plants to express full genetic potential, without much interference from added fertilizer. This gives us the most nutrient-dense, clean greens available.”
Instead of pesticides, they use ladybugs, praying mantises and worms.
Among Eternal Bloom’s micro-greens are arugula, garnet amaranth, basil, buckwheat, cilantro, garnet mustard, wasabi mustard, bouquet dill, nasturtium, pea shoots, purple radish, sunflower, spicy salad small and large seed, and red-veined sorrel. The brightly colored greens grow in trays. They’re not only beautiful, but also a great source of fiber, vitamins, folate, calcium, etc., depending on the variety.
The husband-and-wife team has built a wholesale clientele of 15 area restaurants and a couple of retail sites. Their greens also can be found at Mountain Mama Natural Foods in Colorado Springs and local farmers markets, including the Colorado Farm & Art Market winter market from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.
The microgreens are available to buy in a small, individual tray — about 3.5 ounces of greens for $6; a half tray for $18 and a full tray (12 to 15 ounces, or about 10 servings) for $28.
If the business continues to expand as planned, you’ll soon be able to buy leafy greens, edible flowers, herbs, chiles, heirloom mushrooms and tomatoes, mushrooms and more from Eternal Bloom. Leafy greens will be more readily available in late spring, Jensen said.
The California native has organic farming in his blood. His father was a hobby farmer in Orange County, growing all sorts of produce and fruits, and schooling Jensen in his green-thumb ways.
“I’ve always been into local food, since I was about 5 years old,” Jensen said.
He studied culinary arts with an emphasis on food management while working his way through school as a chef and server. He planned to start a farm-to-table restaurant, but the investment proved out of reach. So Jensen pursued a career as a mortgage banker.
Working 80-hour weeks took a toll on his health. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. At the same time, his wife was having a health scare and suffering from neurological issues. Desperate to regain their health, the couple tried a primarily plant-based diet, using food as medicine.
“We wanted to start our own family business, but then we both got sick. We wanted to first focus on the food we were eating,” he said.
They began to grow and prepare much of their own food and juicing with fresh fruits and vegetables. The lifestyle change worked for them, he said.
At the request of friends, they began selling their greens in California, then Montana, moving to Colorado two years ago to be closer to Carrera’s family. The business emerged organically, so to speak.
“We believe in the mind-body connection. We just turned to food to heal ourselves. Going vegan for three months did it. I don’t know if it’s a miracle or science, but we’re better. Now we eat mostly vegetarian and organic as much as possible,” Jensen said.
The couple moved to Colorado not just to be closer to family, but also to seek a better and less costly environment to raise their own family. Their son, Elijah, is now 2.
This year is the first they’ve lived entirely off their income from their agriculture business, and it hasn’t been easy. The for-profit business has struggled over the lean winter months. Jensen has been hustling to establish local partnerships with restaurants, including Urban Egg a daytime eatery; Sonterra Grill; Till Kitchen; Joseph’s Fine Dining; and Brues Alehouse Brewing Co.
Carrera writes on the website, “Our dream is to have a self sustainable and renewable farm. An apothecary full of herbs and tonics to promote healing and self love. We wish to tend to animals and care for them. Create less waste and teach the importance of growing your own food and tending to the Earth. We wish to donate our time and food to schools, shelters, charities and churches. Our goal is not for mansions or luxury cars but instead to care for our family and provide for others.”
Carrera also makes body products, such as an organic healing salve. Jensen’s finance background helps when it comes to budgeting and planning.
The couple have their eye on a large farm in Pueblo.
“We’re moving toward being truly sustainable,” Jensen said. “Once we get the farm going, we’ll be able to hire a few workers. We’re working on different products, like micro cilantro and micro leeks.”
Giving back to the community is part of the business model. “Our goal is to partner with nonprofits and work with schools, to give back to our community,” Jensen said. “Right now we just donate where we can.”
Contact the writer, 476-1602.