Food & Drink

From the Boalsburg Farmers Market to outer space? Area microgreens company thinks big

Dan Klock of GreenSpace pours some organic black oil sunflower sprouts into a bowl at the Boalsburg Farmers Market on Tuesday.
Dan Klock of GreenSpace pours some organic black oil sunflower sprouts into a bowl at the Boalsburg Farmers Market on Tuesday. adrey@centredaily.com

If you’ve been to the Boalsburg Farmers Market on a recent Tuesday, you may have spotted GreenSpace, a vendor selling microgreens. Though the brand’s products are small, its aspirations are much bigger than many might imagine. In fact, their aspirations are so high that they venture into space exploration.

According to Dan Klock, one of the four founders, GreenSpace is an initiative of Blue Marble Space, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting international cooperation through space exploration.

“One of the biggest challenges as humans venture into space is the successful development of sustainable agricultural methods that can be adapted to a wide range of settings. GreenSpace was launched as an indoor farm to provide nutritious produce to our community and develop methods that could enable long-term sustainability for our future,” he said.

Now, Klock said, GreenSpace grows microgreens partly to earn an income; partly to improve science literary and curiosity in younger generations; and partly to advance scientific knowledge about microgreens, sustainability, closed-loop food production and food security.

The founders are Dan and Reba Klock, Gina Riggio and Jacob Haqq-Misra. All four had been playing in a band together since 2008 and the Klocks have a lifelong appreciation for gardening, good food and the environment, while Penn State graduates Riggio and Haqq-Misra share a passion for the environment as well. They knew they wanted to do some sort of indoor food production and were familiar with microgreens as an up and coming salad crop of interest to gourmet restaurants. After crunching the numbers, microgreens seemed like a sound investment and they dove in.

They started with a few staple microgreens — Black Oil Sunflower, Pea Shoots, Pea Tendrils and Sweet Popcorn.

“Then, we began researching reputable seed companies and studying which microgreens were most flavorful and versatile in meals (and) salads and as an edible garnish,” Dan Klock said. “We’re always testing new varieties but the ones most well received by our customers are what we continue to grow on a regular basis. We offer custom orders and love working with folks with special requests as well.”

The microgreens are certified organic and come in sustainable packaging.

The products are relatively new to the region, with only a few competing vendors, and the team enjoys introducing people to “a flavorful food that is highly nutritious and organic.” GreenSpace’s indoor growing system means customers can enjoy the microgreens year-round, whether they’re simply a home cook or family looking to add something special to salads or wraps, or a restaurant adding the microgreens to gourmet dishes. Chefs and restaurants are one of GreenSpace’s main sources of business, though farmers markets allow the group to reach and educate a wider range of people.

Now approaching their fourth year in business, the GreenSpace team looks back on the significant milestones they’ve reached together — it all started with the motto “little greens, big ideas.”

“We created a ‘waste-free’ Sunflower Grow Kit and student grow kit activity workbook on growing sustainably which aligns with the Next Generation Science Standard for grades 3-5. We recently became a certified organic seed dealer for folks who want to grow fresh microgreens at home,” Dan Klock said. “We raise worms indoors and offer 100 percent organic worm castings for a rich organic slow-release soil nutrient. Along with promoting what we’ve accomplished so far, each member of our team has individual goals we’d like to achieve in GreenSpace for the upcoming year.”

In addition to the Boalsburg Farmers Market, you can find GreenSpace at regional markets including the Downtown Bedford Farmers Market on Wednesdays and the Huntingdon Farmers Market on Thursdays, as well as at several retail stores in Bedford and Huntingdon. Products are also available via the online Friends and Farmers market, which serves State College and the surrounding area.

Happy Valley Greens owner Isabel Kumerz talks about the various kinds of microgreens she grows at her home in State College.

Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle writer. She can be reached at holly.ridd@gmail.com.
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