Daniel Burke was not expecting to create a business when he and his wife Melissa first decided to grow microgreens, which are young seedlings used as nutritional supplements with health benefits. He said he was in the stage of life where he just wanted to eat clean, fresh food.
As he researched what he wanted to grow, Burke purchased a growing tent and racks. The more he thought about it, he saw the need for the community — and Fidem Farm was born.
Housed in his office, Burke said that it is the best of both worlds because he not only can control the environment with lights, but he also doesn’t have to use pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides as the plants are not outside.
Burke said he has 24 10-by-20-inch trays that are continuously used to grow products from seeds purchased in the United States to maturation — around 3-6 inches — and then cut and packaged. A new, densely-planted seed tray is put on the shelf and the 10-day growth cycle begins again.
Fidem Farm began in February and had a booth at the first Owensboro Regional Farmer’s Market in April. Burke said he is finding great success each week at the Market, and has sold out several times. It also means he plans to add more racks soon.
As a microgreens farmer, Burke chose to begin with four varieties of microgreens — sunflower shoots, sweet pea shoots, broccoli, and radish. Burke is available at the Market to give customers information about ways to use microgreens in their everyday eating and also posts information and inspirational ideas on Fidem Farm’s social media.
“We strive to never put anything out there more than 24 hours since cutting,” he said. “There is still a lot of living nutrition in what we are putting out there.”
Last month, Gene’s Health Food began carrying the products in their store as another option for people to pick up the microgreens.
Burke said he believes they will be even busier this winter when less produce will be available, and he hopes to enter local groceries as well as sell to local restaurants.
Burke said that he loves selling at the Farmer’s Market and does not see any of it as a competition because they all work together for success. He also believes that customers are more aware of food shortages and supply issues, and being able to pick up local produce is a great option for the community.
“Some would think that waking early and going to the Farmer’s Market to sell would be a drag, but I love it,” he said. “I like hearing customers tell me ‘We put it in everything.’”