Field of “Greens” on Westport Island
From the microbusiness “MicroMainea”
Here on Westport Island, at “MicroMainea,” grow the current microjewels of inspired cuisine: microgreens. Microgreens are the first true leaves of seedlings that are harvested within days of sprouting. The resulting microbouquets of petite green, yellow, and reddish leaves are prized for their taste, tenderness, and versatility – referred to as “gourmet confetti” by MicroMainea’s seed supplier, Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
MicroMainea, Judy Hughes’ three-year old Westport microbusiness, grows a selection of vegetable and herb microgreens that has put her on the map with chefs at creative restaurants and catering companies from Yarmouth to Waldoboro — including: the Portland Yacht Club, Henry and Marty’s, Laura Cabot Catering, Oliver’s, Trattoria Athena, Bresca, and the patrons of the Boothbay Farmers Market. Microgreens can add flavor, texture, and presentation panache to almost any dish.
Judy’s personal microgreen favorite is garnet mustard. Garnet mustard has visually appealing green and dark maroon leaves as well as a spicy mustard taste. She uses the greens on poached or fried eggs for a splash of color and flavor pizzazz. She also likes them as a garnish on pork or chicken dishes, or for added spiciness and texture on a salad.
Judy’s interest in microgreens comes from a life-long passion for fresh food grown within a shout of home – without the use of pesticides. Growing up on Long Island, New York, her family owned a fresh fruit and vegetable business. Every week her dad traveled to local farms for eggs, fruit, and vegetables. Her mom instilled the notion of eating one yellow, green, and white vegetable in every meal.
From growing tomatoes in the windowsill of her first apartment some 40 years ago to growing vegetables in Alna with her husband, Judy Hughes has been experimenting for a lifetime with growing nutritious, organic food. Her sister, an entrepreneur in natural foods and home-grown businesses, sparked the idea of gourmet edibles – she grows vegetables and edible flowers on Prince Edward Island.
A trip into Judy’s cellar, onto her porch, or around the perimeter of her yard is like walking into an “enchanted garden.” There are micro-fields of petite green, yellow, and red-hued plants; fluffy mounds of pea tendrils inside the house and out; and splashes of brilliant color from pots of edible calendula, viola, and spicy nasturtium.
To make all this “MicroMainea” happen, Judy is a master of organization. On any given day, she could be: planting, cutting, drying, weighing, packaging, delivering, selling at the farmer’s market, emailing customers with MicroMainea’s weekly offerings, or conferring with her business advisory group. For Judy, it’s all in a day’s “adventure” of pursuing her passion for food.
Stop by to say “hi” at the Boothbay Farmer’s Market from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays – and be adventurous yourself… Try a little China Rose Radish, arugula, lemon or cinnamon basil, corn shoots – or maybe Judy’s favorite: garnet mustard.