Living Off The Land – Seeding Sensations: Ultimate Microgreens

by Jo Barnes | photo by Amanda Cribdon Photography

The growing area is 400 square feet. The produce is a few inches high. But at this local farm, the word micro means mighty.

North Saanich’s Ultimate Microgreens grows tiny seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs called microgreens, but the output of this modest facility and the nutritional value of this produce is surprisingly substantial.

“It’s a controlled environment, a micro factory that is lush and green,” shares co-owner Luis Sanchez.

“Microgreens are nutrient dense,” adds co-owner Dallas Elia. “We strive hard here to create and grow. It’s all about the freshness, the taste and the nutritional value.”

The couple started their business in 2019. It’s an enterprise that reflects their combined education and personal interests. With a civil engineering degree, Luis is well versed in design, problem solving and detail work, all of which has been valuable.

“My math skills have really helped with doing budgets and scheduling products,” says Luis. “Excel spreadsheets are really useful to keep track of produce trays and restaurant orders.”

A dental hygienist, Dallas has a background in health sciences and a keen interest in food and nutrition.

“I am passionate about eating well and great nutrition,” comments Dallas.

Starting a new enterprise typically brings all kinds of new challenges, but for these two, the toughest task was choosing the company name.

“We came up with ‘ultimate’ because we thought these microgreens are the ultimate – good for you and your health,” says Dallas.

Extensive research tested by daily experience is foundational to this business. Microgreens are essentially the stage of a plant after the seed has germinated, the plant has sprouted and the plant has not yet transformed into a baby green. Take the example of broccoli. The seed is planted, germinates and grows, but not to a mature plant bearing stalks, the portion we eat.

These early stems and leaves – microgreens – are packed with an amazing nutrient punch.
“They have 40 times the amount of nutrients than their mature counterparts,” notes Dallas. “They are nutrient dense.”

Unlike many other farms, the daily work of planting seeds in soil, watering, monitoring and harvesting does not take place in the great outdoors, on and under a field, but occurs indoors.

The growing facility consists of row upon row of shelving units, each housing a multitude of produce trays containing the growing plants.

The work is precise, the result of research and repeated testing.

“There are four factors needed: artificial light, good quality seeds, quality local organic soil, and water.”

While both LED and fluorescent lighting is used, LED is preferred for its enhanced efficiency and ease of use. Watering is not overhead but done from below each tray.

“The plants are watered from the bottom,” says Luis. “It’s capillary action; the water never touches the leaves.”

The growing window is small, as the plants grow for about three weeks prior to harvest. So it’s essential to stay on top of maintenance.

Says Luis: “If we lose a day or neglect a task, then we could lose a whole week. If watering is missed and any plants wilt, it is very hard to come back. The routine is important – it’s a controlled environment, and the work is precise.”

Nearing harvest time, the facility is brimming with life, a lush micro factory of nutritious greens just ready to be enjoyed. There is great variety here including peas, kohlrabi, fava, radish, broccoli, melon, nasturtium and basil. The greens are fresh and at their best as they are harvested in the morning and delivered straight to the market by mid-day.

Response to the product has been very positive. Initially Luis and Dallas planned to market their microgreens to restaurants and caterers, but the arrival of the pandemic brought challenges. They began doing home deliveries and added new social media advertising platforms like Instagram. Their microgreens are now available through numerous retailers including Red Barn Market, Root Cellar, The Market at Yates and at Millstream, and Village Food Market in Sooke. In addition, numerous local restaurants are enjoying using the product to enhance both menu and plates.

For information about the products, visit

The bounty of this farm starts as a tiny seed, but when tended with care and hard work, transforms into topmost taste. It’s the “ultimate” power of nature and another example of how good things come in small packages.

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