Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Regional Producer Profiles
This piece is part of a larger project completed for Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development where we profiled five regional producers in Souther Alberta both with visual narrative and written interviews. An example of the proposed completed project can be found online as well as on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Website.
GreenBerry Microgreens is an urban ag operation run by Daniel and Jasmine McAllister in the heart of the Hillhurst/Sunnyside communities in Calgary. They grow 30 different varieties of microgreens including sunflowers, pea shoots and arugula. With a product that involves intensive care and intuitive cultivation skills, Daniel and Jasmine are committed growers and incredibly dedicated to their small crops.
GreenBerry Microgreens can be found at Hillhurst-Sunnyside Famers’ Market, through the Canmore Farm Box, at various restaurants in Calgary and directly from Daniel and Jasmine themselves. For more information on how to access their product contact Daniel and Jasmine directly.
Why they started GreenBerry
Daniel & Jasmine began GreenBerry in their home in Calgary, growing 32 10/20 trays weekly of pea shoots, sunflowers, buckwheat lettuce. They immediately noticed their neighbourhood becoming accustomed to the cycle of the plants growing in their front window that brightened the street in the cold winter months.
The past two years, they’ve been running GreenBerry as a side business and the response they’ve received from the community and the demand they’ve encountered from their customers has encouraged them to take the plunge this year to run it full time. When they’re in full production they produce roughly 1000 pounds of food per month from 638 square feet.
While they currently grow out of a community member’s garage space, the incredible momentum they’ve been gaining has made them begin to consider finding a long-term, larger space in the city to house their microgreen operation.
Their role in the community
Community support has been a lifeline for GreenBerry. Their experience so far has shown that communities that feel a sense of responsibility with their producer make all the difference. The most positive interactions and the relationship GreenBerry strives for is one where the customer isn’t just eating their food but connecting with them in a way that they understand they’re supporting a family through eating local. It’s important to Daniel and Jasmine that their community see them as more than just a business name, family living and growing in the midst of their client base.
When they’ve conveyed this to their customers the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers then get to see and understand that what they’re doing matters. The local food movement has helped to bring Daniel and Jasmine into the spotlight in their community and they love that restaurants in their neighbourhood are able to cook food using ingredients they’ve grown just a block away.
Their relationships with customers
They’ve seen their customer base grow exponentially through their microgreen industry connections. They now sell to individuals face-to-face at markets and through direct sales. They supply a few local restaurants and organic food boxes. They’re a driving force behind YYC Growers which organizes a summer CSA program and are a regular contributor to the Canmore Farm Box throughout the winter.
Their approach to their customers is completely customized. They want to get to know their customers’ businesses or lifestyles and then truly be able to serve them in a way that works best for each customer.
Customers have helped direct the products that GreenBerry offers, often coming to Daniel and Jasmine asking if they are able to grow a specific variety in a particular way. Microgreens are really sensitive and each variety comes with its own challenges and needs. Growers have to get to know them and know what they need. It’s this attention to detail and flexibility that allows GreenBerry to set up their plants to suit their family lifestyle and the lives of their customers in such a unique and customized way.
Their vision for GreenBerry
The compelling nature of living foods is what originally attracted Daniel and Jasmine to microgreens. They were learning about how their family could eat as healthy as possible and they discovered that the people they encountered and admired all had a commonality: raw, living foods as a cornerstone of their life.
They wanted to explore the health benefits of eating microgreens and sprouts as a staple in their diet and that led to them considering growing microgreens for themselves. Pretty soon friends began to buy some of their products and eventually the farmers’ market manager in their neighbourhood encouraged them to sell at the market and it just continued to blossom from there. Their hope is to continue to follow their passion and desire to grow food that is, at its heart, the most nutritious option for their community.