When Dean Bredlau and Jayne Watts first met in 2014, they focused on growing their relationship with each other and God, not plants. It was not until after they married in September 2015 and settled in Zumbrota, Minnesota, that they noticed their conversations frequently turned to farming. The summer of 2016, Dean took a leap of faith and planted a garden in sandy, hard, and weedy soil on a friend’s farm. Despite having little to show for his efforts other than a few less-than-flavorful vegetables, Dean was enthused about doing more.
Soon, Jayne and Dean began researching and watching “dirty” movies on YouTube on composting, organic growing, soil composition, planting and watering methods, seeds, and seed growing. After several months of experimentation growing microgreens indoors, their urban farm-to-table grower business, My Sweet Greens MN, was born. Jayne, who held a variety of roles at a local newspaper and within a large hotel portfolio, had some flower gardening experience. Dean, who is a QA Technician by day, was equally as inexperienced at growing vegetables. But as they combined his passion for farming with her keen interest in marketing and promotions, their idea began to sprout into a business with strong roots.
While maintaining their full-time jobs, the Bredlaus focused on moving their business forward. Jayne began bringing samples of what would become their two signature blends to the executive chef at her employer for input. One day after asking if they were ready to sell their microgreens, he became their first customer. In August 2018, Jayne resigned from her job to focus on the business full-time.
Microgreens are small vegetable shoots that are grown for eight days in one inch of potting soil and vermiculite. After the shoots are harvested by cutting, the roots and seeds are left in the soil which is repurposed to their market gardens. In comparison, baby leafy greens are grown in soil in the ground for approximately 21 days and are cut from the plant for consumption. The Bredlaus package the microgreens for sale in two-ounce clam shell boxes for retail sales in stores and farmers markets, and also to sell in bulk to restaurants. Customers add microgreens that include sweet pea and sunflower shoots, arugula, broccoli, kale, and cabbage to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, soups, stir-fries, and much more.
Today, their business is bustling. With assistance from two part-time independent vendors and occasionally their children, the Bredlaus package approximately 150 pounds of microgreens per month. In addition to supplying 10 retail stores (including Hy-Vee stores, a local grocery store, three Co-ops, and a handful of restaurants) with their five core microgreen products, the Bredlaus also vend at area summer and winter farmers markets.
Jayne says that running a niche produce business comes with its challenges. In the past three years, she has learned to listen to customers, rely on her grit, network with peers, and most importantly, to never give up. Dean, who has never met a stranger, focuses on utilizing his background in farming and quality assurance in food product manufacturing to extend their outreach into the community and beyond. It is their passion to educate all customers about the benefits of incorporating microgreens into a daily diet. The future looks bright for My Sweet Greens MN, despite the recent news that they will have to change the name of their business by the end of 2020 due to trademark issues.
For anyone contemplating pursuing their passion, Jayne advises they should clearly define the purpose and vision for their dream, and then determine what resources will be needed and who will be impacted and how. Finally, Jayne advises to step in faith, calculate the risk, and evaluate the dream with realistic criteria. Today, Jayne believes that what she does matters—something she could not do even a year ago.
Jayne says that she has always lived to be the best she could be for the people in her life, for her employers, and for the responsibilities she bears in life. Now she is living by the motto, you only live once. “It’s time to chase my dream—to live my passion. I believe each person gets this chance, probably once in life. Take it. Jump. The net will be there. You’ll learn to bounce back, stand up, and trust in what’s truly important.”
Abraham Lincoln said it best. “The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” The Bredlaus are well on their way to living that profound truth every day.
For more about My Sweet Greens MN, visit their web site at https://www.mysweetgreensmn.com/ or find them on Instagram @mysweetgreens__mn and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mysweetgreensmn/.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach based in Omaha, Nebraska, who specializes in helping her clients both locally and nationwide to move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.