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Microgreens and honey are all the buzz

Croonquist family diversifies inventory

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Angela Croonquist juices freshly harvested wheatgrass. Juiced wheatgrass can be taken on its own or added into smoothies.

With more and more farmland being placed into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), this has also provided land for habitat for honey bees and other pollinators.

Seeing these converted acres sparked an interest for rural Webster County resident, Scott Croonquist.

“We saw all of this land going into CRP – all of those pollinator projects, but no pollinators, so we decided to take advantage of that,” he said.

Scott Croonquist, his wife, Angela Croonquist, and family Colin, Carter and Caitlyn Croonquist, began Spring Creek Honey in 2017. It’s named after the creek that runs through Scott’s family’s land.

The family started small with six hives and as the last few years progressed they found more of an interest and are now up to 24 hives.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Scott Croonquist harvests wheatgrass that will directly go to be juiced. The Croonquists sell the juice, which the family said has many health benefits. One benefit is the strenghtening of gums.

“We try to double every year,” said Scott Croonquist.

The Croonquists harvest the honey and extract the wax to make a variety of different products.

“We have pure bee’s wax so we make lip balms, lotion bars, paste wax – that you use on butcher blocks, rolling pins and wood products,” said Angela Croonquist.

Being newBEES to the BEE business, the Croonquists took to the internet for help as well as other local honey bee producers and the Iowa Honey Producer Association.

Microgreens

The Croonquists attend area farmers markets to sell their products, but have been looking for something else to branch out into — to help diversify their business.

“Because of the situation with honey right now at farmers markets, when you go, there are already two to three local honey people there already, so we have been looking for something that would help us stand out with a specialty product,” said Angela Croonquist.

After some research, the Croonquist family has decided to raise and sell microgreens.

Scott Croonquist started planting some last July and they began selling their produce this fall.

“It was an easy answer for us to raise microgreens,” said Angela Croonquist. “When you start researching and finding all of the nutrient values in them and it is easier to absorb nutrients this way compared to taking a supplement or vitamin.”

Microgreens are vegetable greens, that may appear to resemble sprouts and shoots, are harvested after the cotyledon leaves – those first true leaves – have developed.

Microgreens have up to 40 times more nutrients in them compared to an adult plant.

Scott Croonquist said their core microgreen products include peas, sunflowers, broccoli and radish.

So what can you do with a microgreen plant?

“You can eat them just plain, you can put them on a salad, you can put them in sandwiches, soups or they can be used as a garnish,” said Angela Croonquist.

Don’t be fooled by their small sizes, as microgreens are very high in flavor.

“There is an intense flavor for such a small plant,” said Angela Croonquist, adding a radish microgreen tastes just like a radish.

The shelf life of a microgreen is that of typical produce. Each package of the harvested microgreen comes with a harvest date to ensure freshness.

“But, they won’t last long because as soon as you get it, you will want to eat it,” said Angela Croonquist.

Wheatgrass

Along with the raising of microgreens, the Croonquists have also decided to raise wheatgrass.

“Raising microgreens was a natural progression to wheatgrass,” said Scott Croonquist. “They grow similar and have a similar growing time.”

The Croonquists have been juicing the wheatgrass after it is harvested.

“We don’t sell it as the grass, but as the juice,” said Angela Croonquist. “You can take up to an ounce and a half a day. It is the chlorophyll in the wheatgrass that is a huge health benefit.”

Some health benefits include:

• Detoxifies and rebuilds the blood stream.

• Is anti-bacterial and can be used inside and outside the body.

• Prevents tooth decay and strengthens gums.

• Improves blood sugar problems.

• Helps purify the liver and cleanse drug deposits from the body.

• Is great for many skin problems.

• Wheatgrass contains over 90 minerals, including calcium that is needed to build bones; maintain a good metabolism and keep the blood pH in check and is also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D and E

“It provides energy. It’s a detox. Some people speculate there are healing qualities,” said Angela Croonquist, suggesting the wheatgrass should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

Wheatgrass can affect everyone differently, but for Angela Croonquist, she has seen great results with little side effects.

“When I do the wheatgrass, it is a day and night difference,” she said. “I have zero cravings and especially for sugar. It’s so bizarre. It is a detoxifier, so for me, the first couple days, I might have a slight, slight headache, but you can really feel like you are releasing toxins.”

The wheatgrass can be taken on its own, or it can also be added to smoothies.

A family affair

Each member of the Croonquist family helps out with Spring Creek Honey and soon will be helping out with Spring Creek Greens. The side business keeps Scott Croonquist, who is employed at Silgan Containers, and Angela Croonquist, owner of Salon Central, busy on their off times. But, the help they get from their children is definitely appreciated.

The Croonquists are anxiously waiting farmers market season. In the meantime, Angela Croonquist has their honey products, microgreens and wheatgrass juice on hand at her salon. Or, they can be contacted by email at springcreekhoney@gmail.com or by visiting their Spring Creek Honey Facebook page.

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