For one Poplar entrepreneur, the pandemic provided the perfect springboard to launch a business.
Misty Radig had been searching for a small business opportunity for years, something she could delve into during the summer months when school is out of session. In early March, a microgreen starter kit caught her eye, and the seed for Up North Microgreens was planted.
“Everything about it felt right,” Radig said.
It started with a trip to the store around the time Wisconsin’s safer-at-home order was issued.
“I needed to feel like there was some hope, so I decided to start gardening,” said Radig, an instructor at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
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She added a microgreens kit to the traditional seeds, intrigued by the possibility of having fresh greens in less than two weeks. The first tray failed and started molding, but the Poplar woman began researching the process.
“Within three days I was ordering the racks, the trays, the seeds,” Radig said. “It just seemed like a win-win. I have this product that no one can get out here, and if it doesn’t move, we eat it. And it’s super healthy.”
Harvested between the stages of sprout and baby plant, microgreens take seven to 10 days to grow and are packed with nutrients.
“They’re good,” Radig said.
“Very good,” said her husband and occasional helper, Jeff.
Their family of four enjoys the greens on burgers, sandwiches and salads. They even snack on trays of sunflower greens in place of chips.
In the past, Radig said, she’s had limited success with gardens.
“It’s a lot of work to go out there and crawl around on the ground and pull weeds and stuff, so this vertical gardening is a beautiful thing,” Radig said. “It’s a very closed environment. There’s no weeding involved.”
A section of the family sunroom has been converted into a microgreen-house, and Radig has been experimenting with ways to make the process as sustainable, organic and low-energy as possible.
Another reason the Poplar woman started her business was to fill a local need. Since the Poplar Market closed about a year ago, Radig said, the village has no fresh produce options. Last week, she began selling microgreens to the public through Bridge’s Bar in Lake Nebagamon.
Bridge’s owner Traci Bridge Longa has repurposed one side of the establishment to serve as a convenience and liquor store. In addition to Up North Microgreens, she carries jams, pickles and cookie and soup mixes by Terri Graves and masks made by Jordyn Runions.
“I am not marking up any of the local items, 100% goes to them,” Longa said. “I just wanted to offer a venue for them to sell their goods during these crazy times.”
The shop also offers milk, eggs, bread, sub sandwiches and Dairy Queen treats.
The next step for the Poplar micro greenhouse will be virtual. Radig said she intends to start taking orders online through the Up North Microgreens Facebook page.