Microgreens business growing for Marion siblings
MARION — Microgreens are growing in Hannah and Josh Lerman’s parents’ house, and so is their business.
The siblings started SweetPea Microgreens, which sells small vegetable green plants, together after the start of the coronavirus lockdown. They were already growing microgreens as a lockdown passtime when they began to experiment with new types and flavors of microgreens.
“We started growing all these types to try them out,” Hannah said.
Then, they began selling to stores and restaurants across the Tri-Town.
And the operation is growing to the point where they may have to think about getting a dedicated growing space.
“Eventually we might have to find a space because our parents might not be so happy,” Hannah said.
But that doesn’t mean their parents haven’t been supportive of the endeavor. Their mother came up with the SweetPea Microgreens name.
The Lermans consider SweetPea Microgreens an “urban farm,” and said they benefit from the ability to control the conditions of growth, as well as grow microgreens year round.
The pair also lauded the health benefits of microgreens, which they said provided more nutrients than regular vegetable greens.
And even though the duo haven’t made SweetPea Microgreens their full-time business, they don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.
Hannah Lerman is currently working remotely at her full-time job and Josh is a recent graduate of UMass Amherst, but he’s got another side gig as an oyster farmer.
“I like local food,” Josh said. “I love to eat.”
Josh also said that his time in college gave him the mindset to want to start the business.
“Being a finance major makes me want to be entrepreneurial,” Josh said. “It’s an impetus for it.”
Hannah handles all the branding and marketing work, being a hobbyist photographer. Plus, she’s using her computer science knowledge from her time at UMass Amherst to put together a dedicated website for the business.
But even though business is running smoothly, the pair have had to overcome their fair share of hurdles.
Things like stocking up to meet demand at a time where shipping can take longer than is convenient have gotten in the way. Sometimes, they have to educate potential customers on what microgreens actually are.
“They don’t really know what to do with them,” Hannah said, also noting that microgreens are more popular in urban areas.
She said the small plants are great for soups, sandwiches, salads or on top of any dish.
The pair have also had to adjust to the learning curve that comes with starting a business.
Josh recounted one of the first times they sold the microgreens in bulk to an outside business.
“Oh shoot — we have to set up invoicing,” he said after making the sale.
As natives of Marion, the Lermans said they’ve been lucky to enter what they called a “super friendly” small business culture.
“It’s kind of made us appreciate where we live,” Hannah said.
But now that they’ve gotten their footing in the small business community, the pair said they’re getting ready to expand outside the Tri-Town.