By Kristi Alexandra
Fine diners, ethical eaters, and locavores alike can find common ground in Bees Knees Microgreens. While many revere the farm-to-table culinary trend, South Surrey-based entrepreneur and grower Samantha Stewart does one better by providing local chefs with fresh microgreens grown in their own backyard. Literally.
“My house in White Rock has a small greenhouse,” Stewart tells WestCoastFood. “It’s an old glass greenhouse from the sixties, so, for [my] first season, I was able to grow out of that greenhouse for the market.”
Talk about homegrown.
Bees Knees Microgreens sprouted at the White Rock Farmer’s Market just a couple years ago where Stewart retailed microgreen varieties and mixes. Now, the small business supplies select local eateries with microgreens, along with catering and events.
Sunflower and pea shoots, along with arugula, radish, and broccoli microgreens were among Bees Knees’ regular offerings at the market.
“From there, I made some connections with chefs and local restaurants who were interested, and it grew from that,” she reveals.
The demand for her microgreens has also seen Stewart “outgrowing” her backyard greenhouse and moving on to larger–if not greener–pastures.
“I was at capacity because it was only 8 by 10, so I could only have 30 or 40 trays in there. We grew out of that and moved it into a greenhouse on my parents’ property.”
The property in question is a five-acre lot in South Surrey, where Stewart uses only certified organic, non-GMO seeds sourced in Canada. Stewart’s crops are grown in soil, using natural practices without synthetic fertilizers.
“There was room for me to grow,” she says with a chuckle, “and move the business over there.”
Speaking of growing, what one can usually find taking root at Bees Knees are two signature blends: the spicy mix–full of arugula, mustard, and radish microgreens–which has a nasally, horseradish-y kick to it; and the super mix–including kale, brocolli, and cabbage microgreens–which boasts a milder taste with a nutritional boost. But varieties are the spice of life for Stewart.
“For restaurants, I grow a lot of specific varieties. I supply to this local restaurant on the beach, a little taco shop and they get micro cilantro. I grow triple basil and red vein sorrels which is really pretty… it’s really visually appealing for restaurants.”
Next on the menu for Stewart is swiss chard and beet microgreens–but you might not get a peek at them until the summer farmer’s markets open their gates in May.
For now, you can find a sprinkle of Bees Knees Microgreens atop dishes at local restaurants such as Baja Cantina Taco Shop (15519 Marine Dr, White Rock), Barrique Kitchen & Wine Bar (15223 Pacific Ave, White Rock), and Sapporo Kitchen (1625 152 St, Surrey).
Those who love to play chef at home can find Stewart’s microgreens mixes at Spent Grounds (19140 28 Ave #108, Surrey), where you can grab a bag to take home and pore over the Bees Knees Microgreens Instagram account for culinary inspiration.