Sustainable Farming or sustainable agriculture broadly refers to farming techniques that protect the future quality of agricultural produce by keeping the environment and economy’s demands at the forefront. Under the broad umbrella of sustainable farming, is the concept of ‘Microgreens’.
Incorporating home-grown or locally grown microgreens into your regular diet is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and live more sustainably. Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are approximately 1–3 inches (2.5–7.5 cm) tall. 1 Microgreens are akin to baby plants, falling somewhere between a sprout and baby greens. They are easy to grow, as they can be grown in a variety of locations including gardens, terraces, balconies or even on your windowsill. It can be anything from coriander and fresh herbs to tomatoes, carrots and brocolli.
Microgreens are becoming increasingly popular as they help the planet along with providing nutritional benefits from hyperlocal production. By growing your own microgreens, you can become part of a movement of hyperlocal farmers that disrupts the traditional, non-sustainable food system. In traditional farming systems, food crop is grown far away (often in other countries), which neglects the country’s own local produce. To make it worse, food is then transported over long distances – which leads to environmental degradation due to greenhouse gases and continued use of fossil fuels, while sometimes also requiring food to be processed to avoid spoilage along the way.
Research also suggests that microgreens produce less crop wastage i.e. they are nearly 100% sellable or usable as compared to traditional crops, some portion of which invariably goes waste. Further, microgreens grow in about an eighth of the time 2 as their adult counterparts grown in farms and being hyper local, they eliminate the need for transport. They can be extremely useful in times like the pandemic when supply chains are disrupted.
Most importantly, microgreens are grown without pesticides or fertilizers making them extremely healthy and environment friendly at the same time. Traditional agriculture heavily relies on the use of fertilizers that contaminates water supply, reduces soil productivity and can also disturb the life cycle of animals and fishes. This is because over-fertilization allows excess fertilizers to leak into ground water and the surrounding environment. Too much fertilizer can leads to acidic soils, too much algae (eutrophication), pollution of groundwater, and increased global warming.
Last but not least, microgreens can grow in 200 times less water in 94% less time than it takes to grow an adult vegetable which is a massive saving on both water and time.2
As individuals become conscious of their environmental footprint, growing microgreens can reduce the stress on our overstretched farmlands as well as provide more micro nutrient-packed super foods into our diets, thereby helping to manage stress in our own busy lives.