Augustus Greens delivers healthy microgreens straight to customers in the greater Providence area. The business idea was born during the onset of the COVID pandemic, when subscription boxes and delivery services became popular. Josh Primiano and his wife, Cara, wanted to create a business of their own while tapping into previous farming experience. They started out growing microgreens for friends and colleagues in their apartment, and eventually launched as an official business in January 2022.
Here’s how the idea came to be straight from co-founder Josh Primiano:
1. Jamie: What made you want to start Augustus Greens?
Josh: My wife and I are aspiring farmers, with the goal of one day running our own farm incorporating animal and plant systems to create a holistic, regenerative enterprise that rehabilitates the soil and feeds people exceptional food. We hit upon microgreens two years ago during the onset of the pandemic. With our job security at stake and faced with uncertainty, we wanted to act on our dream. Microgreens were, and are, a burgeoning health food trend, and we realized that an urban microgreens farm would not only allow us to scratch our farming itch, but could also bring in extra revenue to help support our family. Unlike other microgreens farms, we wanted to focus on direct-to-customer delivery in addition to wholesale. Although the project fell to the wayside for a year or so, we officially launched in January with modest success — people love the freshness of our product and really appreciate the delivery business model!
2. How did you come up with the name?
Augustus is my cat! He enjoys eating our houseplants, so I decided to make use of his name and likeness…plus, I thought the name had a nice ring to it.
3. What is your background in farming?
My wife and I have always been avid gardeners. I have fond memories of planting fruits and vegetables in my grandmother’s garden as a boy, and have always had a deep connection with the outdoors. In grad school, we both realized that we would rather spend our time growing food and living outdoors rather than working in the city. This collective realization has led us to volunteer at farms in the area, grow on community plots and even help to revitalize the Wheeler School’s Community Garden in Seekonk over the past few years. Although we lack a formal background in farming (if such a thing exists), we have taken the time to educate ourselves on small-scale farming trends and practices with the hope of one day realizing our dream of operating our own farm. Augustus Greens is a part of that journey, and has given us an exciting look into indoor farming methods.
4. How do you grow the greens?
Our microgreens are grown indoors year-round under full-spectrum LED lights. Because microgreens grow for two to three weeks at most, they require only a very small amount of growing medium (in our case, perlite and peat moss) and water. It works like this: Fill a 1020 flat with growing medium (only about an inch deep), so microgreens seed on top, water, place under darkness for two to three days to germinate, and then move to light for five to seven more days. Once the plant’s true leaves begin to show, harvest the microgreens and enjoy! It’s a simple process that results in delicious, nutrient-packed food.
5. Where are they available?
You can purchase our microgreens online on our website, augustusgreens.com. Customers can sign up for a one-month or three-month subscription option and get built-in discounts. Currently, we offer a mix of our five core varieties, the Micro Mix, containing sunflower, pea, radish, broccoli and mustard, but we are launching a new mix in July, with more to come. Customers can also sign up for our newsletter on our website, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We also offer our microgreens at Urban Greens Co-op in Providence, and this summer you can find us at the Tilted Barn farmers market every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m.
6. What are some ways customers use them when creating dishes at home?
One of the many virtues of microgreens is the wide number of ways you can use them! Restaurants typically use them as garnishes, and at home they are seen in salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, juices and so on. Really, they can be used in just about any dish because of their small size and intense flavor. My wife likes them on her egg sandwiches for breakfast, while I’ve taken to adding them to our dinners during the last steps of the cooking process to see what kinds of flavors reveal themselves. Some of our customers have shared with us delicious salads featuring everything from golden beets to cream cheese and honey.
7. How do you see the business expanding in the future?
Great question! Our goal is for Augustus Greens to become featured in local grocery stores around New England — we’re working actively on expanding our product lineup and reaching out to distributors who are interested in our microgreens. We also hope to continue to expand our wholesale operations by contacting more chefs and restaurant owners. We would love to be Rhode Island’s primary go-to microgreens farm. But the real goal is for us to expand our direct-to-customer delivery operation. We sincerely believe that this is the future of food shopping, and think that it is an excellent way for local farmers and producers to get their products right in the hands of customers. We are leaning heavily into this side of things and are hoping to build a delivery market for microgreens, not only to prove that food delivery is a feasible way for small-scale farmers to make a living, but to educate people about the health benefits of microgreens. Finally, a longer-term goal we have is to work on microgreens juices that we would hopefully be able to bring to customers further afield than Rhode Island. Microgreens are some of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. By juicing them, you get to concentrate huge health benefits into a small container. We’re experimenting with different flavor combinations to see what is possible for Augustus Greens in the future.