One Tray At A Time: Building A Microgreens Business

Some siblings might find it difficult to go into business with each other, but Paul Oslach and his sister Jessie Sloot are working together on a new local microgreen growing business called Royal City Greens.

Oslach said it all started when they helped out their father, who is also named Paul Oslach, in the garden as they were growing up in Guelph.

“My dad grew up on the tobacco farms in Aylmer, so he was into agriculture and always had a big garden in the backyard and enlisted us to do the weeding and the watering for him. That’s kind of how we got started,” said Oslach.

Sloot remembers early mornings on weekends weeding the garden and the harvest of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers that would eventually come from it.

“It was mainly just for our family and we gave away some of it to family and friends,” said Sloot. “We never sold it or anything. I think it was just him getting back to his roots on the farm.”

With some downtime due to the pandemic and Sloot’s maternity leave, the siblings tried putting their heads together on a business they could start small and build over time.

“Our dad kind of introduced us to microgreens a couple of months back and said ‘you should look into this, it could be a good opportunity for you,’” said Sloot.

“We wanted to get back to family roots and spend more time on an exciting challenge together,” said Oslach. “Right now it’s more of a passion project but hopefully we can expand it to something more sustainable in the future.”

Their father acts not only as an advisor on the business, but he’s also an early investor.

“He calls us about every two days to give us his advice and life experiences,” said Sloot. “He has also invested a little into it as well to help get us started.”

On Saturday, Royal City Greens will be a vendor for the first time at the Aberfoyle Farmer’s Market, selling a variety of microgreens, including red stem radish, dwarf grey sweet peas, arugula, and two kinds of broccoli, among others.

They are grown under lamps in trays in the basement urban farm. Sloot said the plants are not grown in soil but in Coco Coir, which is derived from coconut shells.

“It’s all organic and we use all-natural fertilizer as well, so there are no pesticides and all the seeds are from organic sources,” she said.

The microgreens are not grown to maturity and instead are harvested while still young. In some cases, said Sloot, the microgreens can have pack more nutrients than a full-grown crop.

They are a popular way to add nutrition to meals and as a garnish at restaurants. Oslach should know, he has spent the last decade in the quick-service industry running a restaurant.

“I put them on everything. The radish is my favorite because it has a bit of a bite to it,” said Oslach.

The microgreens are grown in the basement of Sloot’s Arkell home. The one-room operation was intentionally started small for its first year.

After 10 to 14 days the microgreens are harvested, packaged up, and taken to market or sold from the business’ website.

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