Victory Gardens follows an array of farmers and growers on Instagram and there was one we have been super keen to catch up with and feature on our blog. Newcastle Greens (@newcastlegreens) packs a whole heap of greenie goodness into every Instagram post!
Newcastle Greens delivers a unique range of microgreens, wheatgrass, edible flowers and baby leaf to restaurants and cafes around the Greater Newcastle area. Owner and grower Elle Brown was kind enough to share her journey which began with the extended family pitching in to help build a greenhouse in the backyard of her Waratah West home.
As a mother to a toddler and a teenager, Elle started her home-grown business just over a year ago. She is still waiting to catch her breath. The business has taken off and she’s loving it.
A regular day for Elle starts early with feeding! “Chickens, dogs, oh and the children!” she says laughing.
Then it’s out to the greenhouse to check the stability of the environment, move trays around to chase the sun, weigh seeds and prepare soil for planting.
“Planting takes two full days and is rotational with germination varying from 4 to 21 days,” she said.
“It’s a really busy time,” Elle says. “I often find myself back out in the greenhouse until the wee small hours preparing deliveries and night potting to keep up with demand.”
Elle is currently supplying her produce to over 30 cafes and restaurants in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley and Port Stephens…and the list is growing all the time. It appears that expansion is on the horizon with interest stretching from Sydney to Noosa.
You get the sense when talking to Elle that it is quality that is behind her success. She only uses the finest seeds and soil mixes and screws up her nose at the mention of synthetics used by many growing food hydroponically.
“To me quality is everything,” she said. “Our food has been stripped of its quality, whether due to soil depletion from over farming or fertilisers and pesticides contaminating the food we eat. Sadly the nutritional value of food has plummeted.”
“Combine this with climate change and we have a perfect storm.”
“I expect microgreens will become increasingly popular as they can be grown indoors and they are nutrient dense,” she said.
Some studies have shown microgreens like red cabbage, cilantro, and radish contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.
“Microgreens certainly pack a punch nutritionally and they are delicious,” she said.
Elle is obviously a foodie. “I worked in catering in my teens and my husband is a chef, so food is a big part of our lives.”
“I get a great sense of satisfaction growing and then seeing the finished product on the plate, knowing that it not only enhances the beauty of a dish but it tastes great and is good for you!”
Keep up the great work Elle and thanks for sharing your story! Be sure to follow Elle on Instagram @newcastlegreens if you can bear it! Or email her direct firstname.lastname@example.org