Randy Ferrell began his microgreens operation for his own health, but soon expanded
ROLLA, MO. – As he neared middle age, Randy Ferrell thought he probably should start eating healthier if he wanted a chance at an active lifestyle in his elder years.
An ache here, upset stomach, a pain there, and feeling a little sluggish were all things Randy sought to cure. Coupled with years of a stress-filled life living on the bustling south side of St. Louis, the move to a farm in Rolla afforded enough space to explore growing healthier foods.
About eight years ago, Randy began researching growing microgreens for his own consumption as a hobby. He researched the process and read works published by Jewel Solomon. He also watched YouTube videos produced by Curtis Stone that concentrate on intensive farming of microgreens in a small plot urban setting.
In the early years, Randy wanted to homestead a hobby farm so he began raising some chickens along with vegetables. When it came time to butcher chickens, he realized meat production just wasn’t his thing. That fell off the radar of his long range plans.
Randy made the decision to eat as much plant-based as possible. Randy hasn’t given up the great taste of cheese so he still consumes it for protein.
A tasty source of protein comes in the form of the mushrooms Randy grows. He produces lion’s mane, cordyceps, reishi and oyster mushrooms. Not only are mushrooms edible, some provide energy, mental focus and a brain fog lift.
“The older I get the better I eat,” Randy said.
He also noticed plant-based eating left him feeling generally better and more energetic. Customers have told him they also feel a difference within a couple of weeks of eating microgreens, which are 40 percent more nutrient dense than most vegetables.
The four microgreens Randy grows are sunflower, pea, broccoli and radish. He also raises a salad mix of spring greens, baby root vegetables and some herbs as well.
While he was still hobby farming, about six years ago, Randy started selling the surplus from his microgreen farming at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Rolla. From April to October he sells microgreens, salad mix and plant based healing tinctures.
The same greens are grown in stages so that a new group is ready to harvest each Thursday. Cutting, washing and packaging the greens has become an intensive all day job. Randy enlists the help of his girlfriend, daughter and other volunteers to help.
A group called the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a 50-year-old group that travels the country gathering, visits Harmony Farms to help with harvest in exchange for learning how to grow microgreens. The group routinely gathers at national parks, perform volunteer cleanup to spread the message of peace and love around the world.
The volunteers to harvest make it easier for Randy to deliver microgreens so customers set up for delivery can receive orders at their doorstep each Friday.
Delivery evolved with the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, Randy and his sister owned a cab company which dwindled to nothing because people were staying home, too afraid of catching the virus to ride in a cab. Randy decided to offer his products via home delivery and the concept took off. It caught on so well that Randy gave up the taxi business and has concentrated home delivery full time.
“More people are health conscious after COVID,” Randy said. On Saturday, produce is sold at the farmer’s market.
The remainder of the week is spent tending to plants, making compost and ordering supplies such as pillowcase size bags of seeds. Everything is grown organically, with no chemicals.