Honey, I Shrunk the Veggies

August 2021
Written By: 
Harold Rohrback
Photographs by: 
Harold Rohrback

Conway's Microledon Farms goes small, big-time

(Left to right) Healthy vegetables for a healthy lifestyle; Indoor farming allows for a 12-month growing season.

An artistic presentation has long been the expectation in a fine dining experience. Chefs had come to depend on microgreens to garnish salads, soups and plates because of the variety of textures and colors available. But what was once a fancy adornment seen only in high end restaurants is now being used in all aspects of cooking due to its nutritional value, powerful flavor and increased availability.

Microledon Farms is the creation of Oscar and Michele Chavez, who operate the organic microgreen farm in Conway along with their two sons Niko and Koda. With the help of Bonnie and Chris, they service the Grand Strand with microgreens on a seven-day work week schedule. Over the past two years, the business has grown to more than 20 restaurants plus individual customers.

“Building relationships with customers and delivering a healthy, quality product is what sets us apart,” says Oscar Chavez. Deliveries to commercial and residential customers are made several days a week and they also set up shop at the Conway Farmers Market on Saturdays. Oscar and Michele come from families with a history of farming and both had a yearning to work the land. After college, Oscar took a job in the world of marketing, but fate would land him in a position to make a career switch to pursue his passion. There was one large problem – acreage. He quickly discovered that he could not make a living growing large vegetables on a small scale, but might be able to grow micro vegetables on a large scale. Micro farming also fit into the family’s organic lifestyle and respect for the environment. There still is no tractor on the farm, which uses only well water. Every effort is made in the farming process to reduce any carbon footprint.

Microgreens have made the amazing transition from simply ornamental to healthy and nutritious. Chefs discovered that the tiny plants were not only appealing to the eye, but loaded with flavor and ideal for seasoning. The reason is that the greens are cut just above the soil after germination, when the cotyledons {seed leaves} have fully developed and before the true leaves have matured enough to expand. The harvesting time frame is later than a sprout and before they are considered baby greens. Numerous studies, including some by the United States Department of Agriculture, have shown that these tiny, immature versions of vegetables, herbs and spices contain up to forty times more nutrients in the form of Vitamin C, E, K, beta carotene and antioxidants. They are truly tiny, but mighty.

Microledon Farms hopes to expand to an educational/dining tour experience at the farm in the future, but for now is content to provide healthy, fresh produce.

1383 Dukes Road, Conway, SC 29526
(813) 361-3863