Words and photos: Jillian Rivers.
For chefs, it feels like Christmas morning the moment Tyler Jones walks into the kitchen with his small igloo cooler filled with a variety of microgreens and herbs grown by Tyler in his man-made greenhouse in Easton. Always arriving just in time, Tyler’s microgreens brighten up the dishes and specials planned for weekend restaurant service. He appreciates when chefs put thought into how each microgreen variety can add flavor to the dish and not be used just for plate decoration. When Tyler bids goodbye on his kitchen visits, he leaves chefs with small samples of greens he is experimenting with, such as amaranth or pea shoots. The samples, along with Tyler’s enthusiasm, excite and intrigue cooks to give the greens a try and think about the greens’ flavor profiles for future dishes.
Tyler began his business in 2018 with a passion for science and gardening that he inherited from his grandfather in Easton. “Grandpa’s Garden” was where he was introduced to seasonally planting and harvesting vegetables and flowers behind their antique home. Young and motivated, Tyler started his business venture at 18 years old and has since become the goto microgreen guy for chefs, restaurants, and farmers’ markets throughout the South Shore.
Tyler believes in educating his community on locally grown organic greens and the value of adopting the “Korean natural method” of planting. This method of holistic farming incorporates the practice of using what nature has to offer to farmers within their local landscape. Collecting indigenous soil from the local forest with its natural bacterial and fungal life and adding it to planting beds helps proliferate diverse natural organisms in the soil itself. Tyler collects the microorganisms in soil from South Shore locations and ferments them in a “soil tea.” The tea or fermented plant juice helps to naturally prevent disease-causing fungi and pathogens within his soil and improves the overall vitality of the plant. Tyler adds the collected soil to worm bins, where the microbes colonize. The contents ferment, producing all the “good stuff “—nutrients, probiotics, terpenes, aminos, and enzymes—without having to use store-bought “magic boosting” fertilizers. The Korean method avoids the need for chemical interventions, producing a natural, organic plant.
Tyler also mixes coconut coir in his soil regimen. Gardeners have used this byproduct of coconut husks for decades, but many people still are not familiar with coconut-derived growing materials. The process of husking the fibrous portion of the coconut, also known as coco coir, began in the 1980s. Back then, commercial flower growers found that coconut coir allowed the roots of roses and other flowering plants to thrive. Despite all its benefits, coconut coir is still unknown to many home gardeners and farmers. It possesses many nutrients and allows oxygen to move freely through the plants’ roots. Along with being nutrient-dense and neutral in acidity, coconut coir is very sustainable. Coconuts are an easily renewable resource, as coconut trees can produce hundreds of coconuts a year without pesticides. Tyler’s use of this economically sustainable product along with the Korean farming method has ramped up his production.
Tyler puts an abundance of time and supervision into his business. He is vigilant in testing his soils and seeds, setting up watering procedures, and coordinating timed grow lights to ensure his consumers are getting the highest quality product. Microgreens sprout and produce very quickly and offer a wide range of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
The Garden of Easton’s product range includes radish sprouts, pea shoots, wheatgrass, sunflower shoots, red vein sorrel, amaranth, broccoli, chervil, kale, arugula, micro basil, and his currently most popular offering, micro leeks that taste likes spicy chives. They are truly divine bites of intense flavor that add beauty and texture to a dish. Many local chefs and restaurants such as The Tasty in Plymouth, Hyannis Yacht Club, or Mood Food Events in Cohasset reach out to Tyler to produce specific, flavorful microgreens, and he encourages other customers and clients to do the same. Garden of Easton has had a ripple effect in the South Shore chef community who have begun using these delicious sustainable greens, which has invigorated his farmers’ market business as well.
Due to the nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tyler has had to restructure his business to virtual online sales and texting ordering service. He delivers weekly on Saturdays and also offers other products through his marketplace, such as Hippy Pilgrim Salt, Duxbury Saltworks Sea Salt, Hale Bone Broth, Hillside Harvest hot sauce, and Willow Ridge Candles.
With our global food supply chain being compromised through the pandemic, it is more important than ever to support your local food supply chain to ensure these small business owners have a chance to survive. These local farmers, artisans, and makers ensure our community has access to high-quality food and products for our health and well-being.
Jillian Rivers is a chef and writer from Plymouth, Massachusetts, who is focused on spreading “the love of local”—and she never knew a microgreen could taste so good.