Farm-to-table: Bendigo urban grower turns Red Energy Arena green

When COVID-19 lockdowns became the norm across Victoria, many people took the opportunity to take up new activities and hobbies they wouldn’t normally try.

It was during one of these lockdowns in 2020 that saw Bendigo local, Claire Sayle sprout a fresh and healthy business idea – growing and selling microgreens to individuals and businesses throughout the Bendigo region.

This was the start of Clumsy Goose Greens, a microgreen and seasonal seedling urban growing business.

Microgreens are the shoots of salad vegetables picked just after the first leaves have developed.

According to Healthline they often contain higher nutrient levels than more mature vegetable greens.

Claire has always been an avid gardener and with what seemed like endless time spent inside her home during lockdown, she was looking for something she could grow inside.

“I fell in love with microgreens because they only take two weeks to grow and they’re full of nutrition and flavour,” she said.

“Originally it was just for myself, but then I loved it so much I reached out to see if there were other people interested – that’s when Naomi from Red Energy Arena put her hand up.”

Through a mutual connection of Claire and Red Energy Arena Head Chef, Naomi Johnston, the partnership seed was planted and is now in its second year.

Keen to get the freshest greens on plates for diners, Naomi started purchasing microgreens from Claire weekly.

“There’s something different about having these greens straight from harvest to plate – there’s more of a crunch and more flavour to them,” says Naomi.

“We buy loads of sunflower microgreens and pea shoots. Claire delivers to us every Friday afternoon – straight from harvest.

“The partnership has really taken off and Claire’s helped cater for some of our biggest functions. On one occasion supplying enough microgreens for over 900 meals.”

Naomi enjoys using Claire’s greens as garnishes and throughout various dishes at the arena, both believing their versatility and taste makes them essential to many meals.

“They’re an edible garnish, but you can also use them for a salad,” says Claire.

“I harvest them on Friday and bring them in that same afternoon, so when they hit that plate on a Friday night at the arena, it’s as fresh as it gets – there’s no sprays or anything artificial.”

Naomi hopes to bring on more local growers to support the community and continue with this farm-to-table approach.

“It’s important to us to support local suppliers and help put more people like Claire on the map,” she says.

“I would also like to encourage more local growers to come to us and offer their produce – we’d love to help kickstart more businesses in Bendigo, as well as create the freshest meals we can.”

Follow Clumsy Goose Greens on Instagram and Facebook.

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