Probably most people are familiar with alfalfa sprouts, or bean sprouts. Nothing new there, but it turns out you can grow a large variety of highly nutritious and tasty little greens with some trays, some soil, water and electricity and turn it into a business.
That’s exactly what Devon Phelps and Christy Thompson, owners of Slave Lake’s ‘The Flipside’ are planning.
“We’re very excited about this,” Phelps told The Leader last week.
It’s not quite a ‘go’ yet. Town council gave first reading to the required bylaw change that would allow food production of that type to take place in a downtown location. The public hearing goes on April 7. After that, assuming all systems are go, Phelps said they are ready to launch.
The idea is to set up a growing operation in the Flipside basement and produce these things in some quantity. Phelps said the whole plant is harvested at about the time it grows its first set of leaves. The result is a nutrient-packed little package of goodness. Speckled peas, broccoli, radish and basil are some of the types that will be tried. In fact they are already being produced, on a trial basis. Phelps said various food service outfits around town have been approached to see about a market for the product. Other than that, “we’d be looking at a subscription-style business model,” he said, “and bring them to your door every week.”
The idea for doing this arose, Phelps said, based on the family’s desire for fresh, locally-grown stuff.
“We have a predominantly plant-based diet,” he said.
They’d been thinking for some time that Slave Lake needs a greenhouse to provide fresh vegetables locally. So his father-in-law went on a fact-finding mission to see what was being done in other Alberta communities. That was when he discovered a micro-greens operation in Airdrie. One thing led to another, and that operator is advising Phelps and Thompson in setting up their new business in Slave Lake.
Thompson, a nurse by profession, is taking a course in holistic nutrition, which she hopes to turn into a nutritional consulting service in tandem with the micro-greens business.
Phelps says another good thing about the business model is there’s no waste. Greens can be grown exactly to order.