Tucker mom finds dream job in her backyard

Photo provided by Sweetgreens ATL.

Tucker, GA — During the pandemic, Kelly Currier upended her career as a registered dietician and turned her new gardening hobby into a new business. Like so many parents navigating working and schooling from home, she saw a need for refocusing her family’s priorities.

Currier’s backyard in Tucker is home to eight chickens and a 100-foot by 20-foot vegetable garden – and it all started with a blueberry bush.

Currier was working at Emory St. Joe’s Hospital as a registered dietician when she moved with her kids and husband from Kirkwood to Tucker in 2017. A local friend gifted her a blueberry bush to cross pollinate in her yard, and it sparked Currier’s interest in gardening.

Soon she began a vegetable garden, added chickens and focused on homesteading, the practice of living sustainably from one’s own land. In August, she launched Sweetgreens ATL – a business that sells microgreens to high-end Atlanta restaurants and local customers.

“I knew of microgreens, but not very much. And I just thought, wow, this is something that I can do in the space we have. I’ve always dreamed of having something to bring to market, to grow and sell like fruits or vegetables,” she said.

Short of having a farm, that dream didn’t seem like a possibility until Currier realized she could grow a lot of product quickly and in a small space.

In addition to seasonal vegetables, Currier grows a greenhouse full of microgreens: Sunflower, pea, radish, spicy salad mix, cilantro and beet. Her clients use microgreens in salads, on sandwiches and omelets and to garnish dishes.

“If I’ve learned anything over the five years that I’ve been gardening, it’s that the natural elements and mother nature play a huge impact,” Currier said. “There’s a lot of variables to try and control. So with my microgreens, I took the route of having a controlled environment where I can control the temperature and the humidity.”

Nutritionally, microgreens pack a powerful punch. Currier explained that microgreens are the young seedlings of a vegetable or fruit plant. Harvested at 10 to 14 days old, the plants are still deriving all of their energy from the seed, whereas a mature vegetable plant has been growing for 45 to 100 days.

“What’s really neat about the microgreens is because of their size and age, they’re still deriving all the nutrients from the seed, the powerhouse of nutrition,” said Currier, who grows 40 trays of microgreens at a time.

Currier said one study she read stated that microgreens can have up to 40 times the number of nutrients as its mature counterpart. Vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E, lutein and beta-carotene are found in microgreens. Each one adds a unique flavor: Radish is spicy, sunflower is nutty and cilantro is citrusy.

Currier said at this season of her life, Sweetgreens ATL is the right balance of time, work and passion. Homeschooling three kids ages 9, 7 and 2 and running a small business is a good fit for her family, she said.

“There are things that we miss about living in the city, but I certainly would not be gardening period if it weren’t for moving out here,” she said. “When this came along, it has been so easy and fits perfectly into my lifestyle. It’s my dream job.”

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