At the Aiken County Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, customers can find NKBJ Microgreens.
Michael and Vicki Simons, husband and wife for 31 years, run the microgreen business together and are there almost every Saturday.
Vicky Simons explained that microgreens are nutrient-rich seedlings of vegetables and herbs that contain four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts.
“We say that whatever you’re cooking, you can add microgreens to it to add color, flavor, nutrients and texture,” Vicky Simons said.
Michael Simons is the one who mainly grows seedlings in their live grow trays. Vicky Simons manages the digital assets such as the website and Facebook page.
Vicki Simons writes a weekly newsletter for her clients and followers that goes out every Friday morning at 7am
When she writes a newsletter, she tries to take advantage of holidays or current events, or she tries to focus on different recipes that subscribers might be interested in trying.
The business launched in October 2019. The Simonses started this business because they wanted to give more people access to the nutrients that microgreens provide.
“We started this because we were professional truckers and when we were on the road we didn’t have much access to fresh green stuff unless you went to a truck stop and paid exorbitant prices for truck stop food,” Vicki Simons explained. “The thing about it is that it can be a pretty poor choice, or at least it was during the time we were there. So when we got off the road, it was like we wanted to have access to healthier stuff, so we researched that and started growing it for ourselves.”
Microgreens are carefully grown for 9 to 12 days. Michael Simons grows seedlings in their home, where it is easier to control the temperature.
It took the Simonseys a while to learn the growing process, but once they got the hang of it, they said it got a lot easier.
Michael Simons only grows certain seedlings together as most are grown individually. They come together in deli trays, an ounce at a time as a recipe-ready product.
The Simonses have a variety of mixes, including sunflower, split pea, sweet flower, as well as numerous salad mixes.
Everything Michael Simons grows non-GMO. Some of the things he grows are also organic.
Loyal customers come back repeatedly to pick up microgreens at the farmers market or get microgreens through the NKBJ Microgreens subscription.
According to the website, subscribers get priority shipping, a wider selection of microgreens, lower prices than at the Farmers Market, and free home and business delivery on a minimum $15 order.
For the Simonses, clients are the most special part of the job.
“This is special for us. It’s like they’re a second family to us because once you understand what makes your microgreen person tick, it carries over to where they feel comfortable sharing personal things with you,” said Michael Simons. “They share a bit of their lives about how they use microgreens. They are so wonderful; so we have a very loyal base here.”
“We are grateful for people who love what we grow for them,” added Michael Simons.
In addition, Simons sells his microgreens to caterers, for his own catering and to local restaurants such as Neon Fig.
One of their best customers is Jen Kraus, owner of Uprooted Vegan Cuisine. She buys from the Simmons family and talks about their business on Instagram.
Michael Simons is preparing three samples to provide to other restaurants in the city who are interested and hope to provide their microgreens to other restaurants in the Aiken area.