Clay and Jen Stem started their farm in 2017 with several principles in mind: “Grow high quality, immune-boosting microgreens using organic principles, cultivate deeper roots in our community, and teach our children about small-scale farming to instill a sense of work ethic and pride in what they do,” Clay said.
Not well known to many, microgreens are a great addition to salads, sandwiches, wraps, eggs, or tacos.
“They can be up to 40 times more nutritious than their adult counterparts,” Clay said. “Tiny but mighty! People often think you have to do something fancy with them. Wrong! Seriously, just pile them on top.”
“We grow using organic principles. We do not use pesticides,” Clay said. “We compost our own waste from soil used in microgreen production and our own household food waste to naturally feed our garden soil.”
Several core flavors of microgreens are sold at market: Pea, Sunflower, Radish, Broccoli, Powerhouse Mix, Kale, and Alfalfa. Local chefs at country clubs, restaurants and pop-ups use other special varieties.
Besides visiting with customers at the market, the Stems have enjoyed getting to know the rest of the vendors.
“The vendor family is full of love and support. We started our market journey at Orr Street Farmers and Artisan Market in 2017 and joined CFM in spring 2018,” Jen said. “We have built wonderful relationships with our customers, fellow vendors, and the always helpful staff at CFM.
“Selling at the market allows our customers to put a face with our product. When they buy our microgreens at the market or in stores, they know who we are. It also allows us to personally thank our customers for their support. Buying local keeps your dollars in your community.
“Columbia’s local food and business scene is second to none. We are proud to have grown relationships with the hard-working people in this industry, all [of whom] have been supportive in keeping our microgreens on the shelves and on their impressive menus.” Microgreens are available at the three Columbia Hy-Vee locations and both Clovers markets.
The Stems believe the life lessons learned from operating a family farm will build a strong foundation for their boys’ future endeavors. Chase and Grady work in several aspects of the business.
“One reason we started our farm was to educate our children about community. We wanted to show them that social and environmental change can happen through small-scale, natural farming and have huge impacts,” Jen said. “Our teenage boys likely won’t admit it, but when we stay quiet and simply listen to their conversations, it’s obvious we have succeeded on some level. They appreciate that we support local, understand that food doesn’t just come from the grocery shelf, and can communicate in ways other than texting.”
Clay and Jen have diversified their product line. “We are beekeepers and make our lip balms, beard balms, and fragrances using our own honey and sourcing beeswax through the local Boone Regional Beekeepers Association” of which they are members. When it is available, they sell honey at market. They also grow several varieties of tomatoes and edible flowers that add flare and flavor to dishes.
Proud to be a part of Columbia Farmers Market, the Stem family appreciates the opportunity to grow for you.