At the Aiken County Farmers Market on Saturday morning, customers can find NKBJ Microgreens.
Michael and Vicki Simons, married for 31 years, run a microgreens business together and are there almost every Saturday.
Microgreens are nutrient-dense vegetable and herb seedlings that contain four to 40 times the nutrients of mature plants, explains Vicki Simons.
“We say that whatever you’re preparing, you can add a microgreen to it to add color, flavor, nutrition and texture,” says Vicki Simons.
Michael Simons is the one who grows the seedlings mostly in their live planting trays. Vicki Simons manages digital assets such as websites and Facebook pages.
Vicki Simons writes a weekly newsletter to their clients and followers, sent out every Friday at 7am
When writing the newsletter, she tries to take advantage of a vacation or an ongoing event, or she tries to focus on different recipes that her subscribers might be interested in trying.
The business started in October 2019. The Simmons started the business because they wanted to give more people access to the nutrition that microgreens provide.
“We started doing this because we used to be professional truck drivers, and when we were on the road, we didn’t have much access to fresh greens unless you went to the truck stop and paid high truck stop food prices,” he said. Vicki Simmons explained. “The thing about that is, those were probably pretty smart choices, or at least they were while we were there. So, when we got off the road, it was like we wanted to get something healthier, so We looked at this and started growing for ourselves.”
Microgreens are carefully grown in 9 to 12 days. Michael Simmons grows seedlings at home, where temperature control is easier.
It took Simonses a while to learn the growth process, but once they figured it out, they say it became a lot easier.
Michael Simmons only grows certain seedlings, as most are grown individually. They are harvested together in deli trays, one ounce at a time, as a prepared harvest product.
Simonses has a variety of mixes, including sunflower, spotted pea, sweet flower, and a variety of salad mixes.
Everything Michael Simmons grows in non-GMO. Some of the things he grows are also organic.
Loyal customers come to the farmers market repeatedly to buy microgreens or receive them through an NKBJ Microgreens subscription.
Subscribers get priority delivery, a wider selection of microgreens, lower prices than farmers’ markets, and free home and commercial delivery on orders of at least $15, according to the site.
For Simonses, clients are the most special part of the job.
“It’s very special to us. It’s almost like they’re our second family because once you know what drives your little green man, then that eventually carries over to where they’re willing to share personal things with you ,” Michael Simmons said. “They share a part of their life about how they use microgreens. They’re fantastic; so we have a very loyal base here.”
“We appreciate the people who love us growing up for them,” added Michael Simmons.
Additionally, Simons sells their microgreens to caterers, their own food service, and local restaurants like Neon Fig.
One of their best clients is Jenn Kraus, owner of Uprooted Vegan Cuisine. She buys from Simonses and talks about their business on Instagram.
Michael Simons is preparing three samples to offer to other restaurants in town who are interested and want to offer their microgreens to other restaurants in the Aiken area.