Anne Greenstar, a Salem resident who works extensively in community gardens, her home garden and as a volunteer at the Oregon Garden, doesn’t stop growing fresh salad greens during dark Willamette winter months. Abundant fresh produce is available to every Oregonian, Greenstar says – even in winter – simply by growing it inside. Simply by sprouting seeds in the home kitchen.
Greenstar bypasses pesticides, corporate agriculture and the compromised nutrition of larger grocery stores. Working in a kitchen that receives no direct sunlight, she most often sprouts mung beans and oat grouts. For just pennies she grows greens the USDA verifies are unusually rich in vitamins, fiber, Iron Manganese and Zinc.
“I like the benefit of the fresh enzymes,” she says, “I like the benefit of feeling good.”
Greenstar also likes keeping her income within the Salem community. Sprouting seeds can be sourced from many local businesses. Kits can be purchased from the 13th Street Nursery and LifeSource; sprouting seeds are available at LifeSource and Territorial Seed Co (by mail) and will be at Egan Gardens later this spring.
LeeAnn, who works at LifeSource, is an avid sprout grower. “I enjoy the fresher taste,” she says. LifeSource offers a wide variety of sprouting basics; alfalfa seeds, red clover seeds, mung bean seeds and sprout mixes, including a salad mix, and a stir-fry mix, which is LeeAnn’s favorite. She also likes knowing that these fragile greens contain no pesticides.
Especially when seeds are bought in bulk, the cost of sprouting is low. Because of the factor-of-eight increase in size and weight of sprouted seeds, a half-ounce of original seeds can become a half-pound of greens that cost about 80 cents/pound.
Sprouting did not begin with the ‘60’s counterculture. Dolores Moffitt, long-time gardener living in Salem, began the practice when she was a girl and lived in an Oregon forest, far from stores. “Years ago, we couldn’t run to town every time we needed something. So people had to learn to make things if they wanted them. We made alfalfa sprouts, we grew them all winter long so we ‘d always have them.”
Moffitt still loves the result. “Throw a few sprouts on a sandwich and you have a gourmet sandwich.”
Winter greens in 5 easy steps;
1) Immerse seeds in hot water 5 minutes. Rinse.
2) Soak seeds 5-10 hours in cool water. Drain.
3) Place in jar with holes in lid, or in sprouting tray, out of direct sunlight
4) Rinse and drain 3-5 times a day for 4-6 days (depending on type; see seed instructions)
Seeds are raw agricultural products. Check with the FDA and your seed supplier for more exact instructions.