Honey, I Shrunk the Greens

Micro-greens and miniature roses are all the rage in Homestead's organic farms

Our chefs like them so much, Marewski presently has about 500 trays of micro-greens in the mist house, which is open-air but screened in and shaded over 50 percent, and therefore protected from the fierce sun. That explains why mid-August, we're supping on regionally grown micro-greens while other farmers are turning their wilted plants into compost.

Marewski starts with sterile soil that she has actually heated in an autoclave and patrols the budding seedlings for bug eggs, flicking them off with her fingers when she finds them. That's her pest control. And she waters very carefully, not using a timer system. "You have to watch and be able to change your irrigation. Watering is the most critical thing. It's an art," she claims.

But like other savvy businesspeople who have cornered a particular market, Marewski is suspicious of other micro-green growers who stop by her place unannounced. In fact she simply won't share her secrets. How many seeds does she need to sow in order to get a tray full of greens like the hair on a Chia pet? I'm not allowed to tell you, but suffice to say one tray's worth would probably fill a small fishbowl. How long exactly does it take to get a full crop? Mum's the answer, and I ain't talking about the flower.

But if you want to discuss petals and the like, then yes, there are such things as miniature roses, with blooms the size of a baby's thumbnail, along with eyelash-size begonias and orchids equivalent to a kitten's nose. Fruit-bearing olive trees have been tapered into topiaries, blueberry bushes have been turned into bonsais, and pomegranate, pear, and crabapple trees have all been miniaturized as effectively as Mike TV in Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. And if you don't think these items will have any bearing on what we eat in restaurants in the future, then I dare you to a debate over a breakfast of blueberry bonsai pancakes.

Next week: Small food is big nutrition -- as long as you eat it raw.

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