Farmers in the City


Oliver Homberg and Matt Alto are doing something not many would think of doing their whole lives. What might that be? These Northeastern University’s graduates are proud founders and owners of Boston Microgreens. They started as freshmen farmers, with little or close to the non-existent farming experience. By now though, they are selling heaps and trays of leafy greens to not only home cooks but also around 30 Boston restaurants. These restaurants include Uni, O Ya, Ostra, and even Sorellina.


“Basically, we just started growing stuff for ourselves and then we got obsessed,” said Homberg. “We learned everything we know from videos on YouTube.”


These entrepreneurs maintain quaint little hobby gardens which are overflowing with corn, melons, carrots, kale along with summer squash, Bibb lettuce, purple Kohlrabi, zucchini, pickling cucumbers, and raspberries. However, their speciality is harvesting microgreens; these will then be used to give the salad a depth and add more flavour or crunch to a dish or a sandwich. Microgreens are nothing but small leafy shoots that radishes, peas, and kale produce while growing. Both the entrepreneurs make sure to cut these shoots before the plant grows which packs them with flavours and nutrients.


They are much-loved farmers; as their technique is unique, it results in some quality produce. “Chefs love these because we’re local,” Homberg said. “We cut and deliver the greens the same morning, so they know they’re getting super fresh ingredients that haven’t been in the back of a refrigerated truck for a week.”


Homberg and Alto have made their apartment into a modern greenhouse, with one room being properly given to cultivating greens. What they do is sow partly-germinated seeds onto soil-filled trays three days a week. These seeds are then covered and watered to start the growing process. After the seeds begin to sprout, the trays are then placed on a shelf with a fluorescent light and watering system. It helps to develop them more properly, which are then cut, packed, and shipped off for delivery. “It can all be done in the middle of your living room,” said Alto.


Now, these two young farmers cum entrepreneurs are deciding to expand this business. The first thing they want to do is get a bigger space for their produce and tie-up with local schools and in turn, making the kids interested in farming. “Growing up, I was that kid who just ate whatever without thinking about it,” Alto said. “To have the opportunity now to be in control of the whole process—that’s something we want to share with as many people as possible.”


Pranjali Wakde

pranjali wakde

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