Try listening to the story instead of reading it!
Nathalia Hamid, owner of Mohawk Microgreens poses in Sterzinar Park.
by Dave Warner
You may have seen the bright light streaming out of the kitchen area at the Masonic Temple at night, and there’s a reason for that. Mohawk Microgreens, a new business started by Nathalia Hamid and Daniel Preston, has been growing samples of this new class of ‘super-food’.
They are edible vegetables harvested when a seed’s first leaves have fully expanded and before true leaves have emerged. They are considered baby plants, falling somewhere between a sprout and baby green. They deliver a concentrated dose of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds and have a wide range of colors, textures, and flavors.
Hamid is originally from Colombia, where she grew up. “I moved to New York City in 1999, when I was fresh out of college because I needed a change. I felt that in my heart I needed more.”
She stayed with an aunt that she had in the City, who was a graphic designer, which was the same skill Hamid had studied in college. Hamid started working at a textile company, and little by little, that turned into a twelve-year stint with the business.
“I did graphic design for textiles, and traveling was a big part of the job, and I loved that. It was a great family, and I learned tons from them. We’re still in touch to this day,” she said.
For her, design is part of her life, where the colors and textures really appeal to her. When you look at the different samples of Microgreens on her website, you get that same sense of color and texture, which she finds so interesting.
Hamid says, “I arrived in Little Falls permanently, two weeks before quarantine, hoping to move into my house. Now, three months later, none of that has happened and it has been a tough adjustment.”
However, she feels that after being here for just three months, the community has been extremely welcoming. “It gives me a sense of belonging that I didn’t have before. I feel like I can make friends. People are so nice and warm and easy-going. There’s no pretending and you feel comfortable with that.”
Graphic design has always been a part of her life and she enjoys doing it. When she was in Columbia, she helped small businesses put together their corporate image, websites, and materials. “Somehow with small businesses, the project feels like your own.”
She wants to continue doing that, and you can find out more information about her work at https://nathaliahamid.com, but in the meantime, she has the new Mohawk Microgreens initiative.
“It happened pretty much when the quarantine started. We were noticing that the supermarkets were a little short of food on the shelves, so the panic mode had us thinking ‘what would we do?'”
She said I didn’t know how to farm, so we started thinking about how we could be self-sufficient. “The idea started as one where you could have something to grow in your house that would be healthy and nutritious and that it would be there, but you could also share it with the community.”
At that point, she said that Preston did the research about lighting conditions, the kinds of trays and soils that were needed, and it just started to form into a business. “Somehow, it has kind of been working. The process is nice as it’s not that complicated.”
She said they are still figuring some things out, as each microgreen has its own speed of germination and growth. “You cannot expect everything to bloom within one week or two. When you’re going to plant, you have to think accordingly and go with similar growth times.”
The initial setup that they have is small, but it gives them enough to feed 30 or 40 families on a weekly basis. They also have some local restaurants that are ordering trays of the microgreens.
“We have a small container, a large container, and a tray size that you can order,” she stated. “The restaurants are ordering the trays, which I think is a great thing for them to offer with their products. We like that it is directly to the consumer,” said Hamid.
At this point, then are not interested in selling to supermarkets, because the product needs to be consumed right away. “Right now, we are just talking to people who are directly interested. So far, there are a lot of those people.”
On their website, they allow you to purchase small amounts, or you can sign up for their CSA program, which is a subscription model, delivering the product to your home on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, or allowing you to pick it up on that same schedule.
“This week we will start delivering to the people who have already signed up and we’ll see where it takes us,” she said.
“When you start something, you always try to take it as far as you can and make it as big as you can. We’re still learning and we have to see how big the interest is, and how sustainable it is,” stated Hamid.
She says, in the end, it’s not a charity. “Every new business takes a lot of investment, even on a small scale.” However, she said, “when you work with plants, you cannot really rush things, because you are working with nature. You have to allow them to do their own thing.”
She ended, “nature doesn’t rush, but everything is accomplished. I think that’s a really good reflection on how when you work with this kind of thing, you have to allow them to be ready.”
If you are interested in more information, would like a free sample delivered, or would like to sign up for their CSA subscription program, visit https://www.mohawkmicrogreens.com/