Small Crops, Big Heart

Living with what you have is an essential part of Chris and Shannon Owen’s lifestyle. It is why they have set out on a mission to supply their community with sustainable, nutrient-dense produce by converting their East Side home into a hydroponic microfarm.

The husband-and-wife duo started Cheshire Curiosities MicroFarm + Homestead in December 2020, utilizing nearly every inch of their less-than-quarter-acre backyard to grow about 20 types of produce, including eggplant, butternut squash, okra, cantaloupe cucumbers, and sugar baby watermelons. The Owens’ basement houses more than 15 varieties of microgreens.

“My family has always had a small garden in the back, and it’s something (Shannon) was very passionate about when I met her, and we just kind of expanded on that,” Chris says. “Obviously last year was scary … with not knowing if there were (food) trucks coming in. If something like that happens again, we want to be a source of food for not only our family, but the people around us.”

Cheshire’s microgreens are grown using coconut coir — the middle shell of a coconut husk — instead of soil, an increasingly popular type of hydroponic-growing medium. The microgreens are placed in racks under energy-efficient fluorescent lights and watered two to three times daily from the bottom to inhibit contamination risks. After about two weeks, they are harvested, packaged, and refrigerated until sold.

The microgreens themselves can serve as a garnish, topping hotdogs, burgers, eggs, or even mac and cheese.

“It’s just like a generous garnishment, is how I look at it,” says Shannon. “You don’t want to cook it because you’re breaking down the vital nutrient there. But ultimately, the more you put, the more flavor, and with that comes the benefits, too.”

Cheshire Curiosities sells its microgreens and other homegrown produce on its website for pickup and through a weekly home delivery subscription. Shoppers can also buy the microgreens at the Historic Newburgh Farmer’s Market, Market on Main, and Bargetown Market. The microgreens can even be spotted on the menus of local restaurants The Collective and Copper House.

Great Garnish ~

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Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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