A NEW Year is a time when many of us start looking at our lifestyles and habits and wondering how we can make positive changes. Whether that be hitting the gym, or cutting back on the takeaways, goals for a happy and healthy year are aplenty at the moment.

That’s why I decided to visit one local business which is hoping to help people make those changes, through its relatively rare produce: microgreens.

Microgreens are shoots of vegetables, salads and herbs that are picked just after the first leaves have developed. Chefs and food enthusiasts prize them for the flavour and as colourful garnishes to their dishes. In addition, there is now a growing trend for microgreens being used by the home consumer for the health benefits, particularly since the pandemic.

At Meon Hill Farm near Stockbridge, husband-and-wife pair Sarah, 53, and Richard, 54, Kennedy of Lusso Leaf have combined their passions for gardening, health, and technology to set up their own business offering microgreens to the local community.

Talking about how the business came about, Richard said: “I have spent 30 years in sales in the IT industry. I like tech, and this is a mash up between IT and horticulture so I found that really appealing.

“I thought there was a market opportunity and I have to say, every time we meet a new chef they pretty much always say yes!”

SEE ALSO: Moving firm marks month of milestones for both owners and employees

Richard explained that finding this type of produce locally is difficult for many restaurants. “There are some big companies in the UK, but it all goes to a central base in London and by the time it reaches the customer it's not fresh any more,” he said. “Sometimes they get produce that’s rotten!”

Pilates teacher Sarah added: “We actually launched the business at the beginning of 2020, three weeks before lockdown. But Richard had been growing microgreens since mid-2019.

“I love it from the health perspective. Nutritionally, some of the plants contain antioxidants that are between 40 and 90 per cent more concentrated. We use organic seed, no pesticides, no plastics, much less water.”

“When I first started growing them I thought that my skin looked different, it seemed to be glowing,” added Richard. “Sarah laughed at me but then a few days later at the dinner table, our son who is in his twenties said the same thing!”

Sarah and Richard, who live in Goodworth Clatford, said that they currently partner with around 20 hospitality businesses across the area, with hopes to expand this, as well as offering a delivery service for home use.

“Our retail boxes came out of lockdown,” said Sarah.

“Restaurants were closing down. Some were doing takeaway, but fewer microgreens were needed. A lot of people wanted to boost their immunity, and we had planned to roll out to individuals later, but lockdown was our opportunity.

“I handle marketing, and that’s been really interesting to learn.

She continued: “I think people associate microgreens with salads, but it’s much more versatile.”

Richard, who has designed a computer programme which allows him to monitor how the plants are doing, remotely from anywhere, added: “It was a challenging time! We have built everything from the ground up, including our website, and I hadn’t touched code in 30 years! And I had to fit the whole growing room out in pieces.

“I have probably grown between 35 and 40 different products, and most of them take different amounts of time so we have to grow them so that they are all ready to harvest on the same day. So it can be a bit of a nightmare in that sense!”

Sarah and Richard gave me a tour of their workshops, and let me taste a huge variety of delicious plants - from broccoli, to mustard, and radish to lemon balm! I even took one of their pre-mixed boxes home and enjoyed in a lunchtime wrap.

The couple hope to “hit the ground running” in 2022, and you can find out more by visiting https://www.lussoleaf.com/ or following Lusso Leaf on Instagram and Facebook.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from Andover by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.

Kimberley Barber