Big Sunshine Comes in Small Packages


David and Jill Nicklaw established Sunshine Cove Farm in 2008 diving headlong into the miniature landscape of Micro-green Farming. Tucked in a High Country 'holler a couple of hoop houses shelter a small scale operation for a big idea. Micro-greens, lots of teeny-tiny-awesome-delicious micro-greens. (Below Left - Red Chard / Below Right - Red Amaranth)

Jill walks me to the hoop houses to begin her daily regimen of activities which starts with opening the flaps on the side of each house by crank.

The operation I discover is super-organized and Jill talks me good-naturedly through the rhythms of her daily regimen. Watering, of course, purple radish micros are first.

And then preparing new trays to replace yesterday's culled batches. An Appalachian State University student-intern helps Jill by unloading soil for the trays.

Then filling them row by row with an organic "special formula" of soil and soil enrichers. Don't ask me what they put in their formula as it is definitely top secret!


Then the seeds....

At this point of the shoot David suddenly appeared with a couple of bunches of the most camera-ready rainbow chard you've ever seen - which was perfect, as I wanted to shoot a few portraits of the couple as a gift for their marketing purposes!

I kept getting drawn to examine the finer details of each micro-green tray - I'm not kidding, they are fascinating, sort of like those beautiful mossy terrariums under glass.

And you just want to keep patting them like a freshly buzzed head of hair - or maybe that's just me?

Sunshine Cove grows over 30 kinds of micro-green and produces 10+ different varieties of mix. I enjoyed tasting the elements that make up their mirepoix mix - mini onion, carrot & celery greens. I loved being able to eat the carrot greens, we usually throw out the frothy tops of the adult vegetables. I didn't expect these greens to taste so....."carrot-y," all earthy and sweet.

Suddenly, a special guest darted through the hoop house - Roscoe the cat, followed by David and Jill's daughter, Olivia, who scooped him up in her arms - much to his chagrin!

I then took a jaunt out to the gardens where I encountered one of the most colorful compost piles ever! - it reminded me of some modern art / earth work sculpture.

Turns out the retired micro-green beds make excellent ground for the adult veggies, like these maturing patty-pan squash that were in full bloom.

Through the lens from below I felt like I was in some Jurassic world.

It's a pleasure discovering each new farm in the High Country and Sunshine Cove was no exception. You can meet David and Jill at the Watauga County Farmer's Market where they sell their little, lyrical and delicious micro-greens (and other produce) weekly.