MAYBE GOOD THINGS come in small packages, but when that package includes job creation, agribusiness development, a new urban farm for Poughkeepsie and a local source of micro-crops packing a huge nutritional punch, it’s a big deal.
Indoor Organic Gardens of Poughkeepsie, a new urban microgreen farm, has taken root inside a 6,000-square-foot space in the former Kresge building on Main Street. There, founders Brud Hodgkins, Earl Crum and Karole Mundell currently produce about 150 pounds of microgreens a week using 10 modified grow tables bedded with McEnroe Organic Farm (Millerton) soil.
Unlike other “esoteric indoor agriculture,” the Poughkeepsie facility utilizes existing commercial office space fitted with lights and grow tables. “That’s all we have—seeds, dirt and water. No pesticides, no fertilizers,” Hodgkins says, adding, “We’re planning to be big.” He says plans are to eventually increase production to 1,000 pounds weekly and to supply custom-designed and outfitted grow tables to other locations.
Microgreens are popular with chefs because of their flavor and visual appeal, Hodgkins notes, “but the real play on microgreens is neither of those things—it’s the nutrition,” Hodgkins explains. For example, one ounce of red cabbage microgreens has the equivalent nutritional value of two-and-a-half pounds of mature red cabbage. “It’d be pretty hard to sneak two-and-a-half pounds of red cabbage to a six- or eight-year-old, but you could easily sneak an ounce of red cabbage microgreens in their grilled cheese.” In fact, the microgreen farm is currently working with the Poughkeepsie school system to improve the nutritional value of the school lunch program.
Currently, the farm grows several varieties of microgreens and microherbs, including cilantro, basil, pea shoots and sorrel, and currently supplies Adam’s Fairacre Farms (Wappingers and Poughkeepsie locations) and the Health Nut Hut (Amenia) with mizuna, purple kohlrabi, Rambo red radish, Garnet giant mustard, red cabbage, kale and arugula. Customers can tour the farm or purchase microgreens directly from the farm, as well. “[They] literally stand there and watch while we harvest it in front of them,” Hodgkins says.
A number of Poughkeepsie restaurants also are utilizing the farm, including Le Express, Crave, Rabbit and Turtle, Brasserie 292 and Artist’s Palate. Hodgkins says plans are to distribute the “superfood” throughout the Hudson Valley. “Put them in your tuna fish, put them in your soup, put them in your salad for the nutritional value and flavor. Long-term, we’re going to be able to grow a lot of these things.”