A 4,000-square-foot barn on the property will become the production facility for Goodwater Farms. Photo courtesy Brendan Davison.
By Mara Certic
After over a year of looking for land where he could expand, Brendan Davison, owner of Goodwater Farms, confirmed this week that his microgreen-growing operation would be moving to Bridgehampton this year and almost quadrupling in size.
In 2012 Mr. Davison began growing microgreens—plants that are harvested shortly after sprouting—at a house he was renting in Amagansett. The business quickly took off, he said, and after one summer he found a warehouse space at 6 Plank Road in East Hampton, where he was able to put up a greenhouse.
Goodwater Farms distributes its eight varieties of microgreens to 35 restaurants from Montauk to Brooklyn and also for the last year and half has had produce in 12 Whole Foods markets.
“I can’t take on any new people,” Mr. Davison said, explaining that he has outgrown his Plank Road space. He has had a deal on the table to expand his distribution to all Whole Foods markets between Maine and Florida for about a year but has not been able to go through with the expansion. Until now.
Over the next few months, Goodwater Farms will be moving from its current location across the town line to a 34-acre property in between Mitchell and Butter Lanes in Bridgehampton
“I was just getting very discouraged, looking everywhere,” he said. “Finally, I worked out a deal. I found someone who is allowing me to use his property.”
Mr. Davison explained that the town code in Southampton is more friendly toward agricultural uses than East Hampton’s, adding that the eastern town allows just 3 percent greenhouse coverage per acre, while Southampton allows 10 percent. He’s currently having a 100-by-24-foot-wide greenhouse designed that will be sent here and assembled after he receives the necessary permits.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “We’re finding out it’s going to be about four months to get the permit.”
A 4,000-square-foot barn, currently vacant on the property, will become the home to the farm’s production facility. Seeding, cutting and packaging will take place in the repurposed barn, and eventually that’s where a test kitchen will be located, he said.
Mr. Davison began growing microgreens when he was seeing clients and practicing shamanic energy medicine.
“Through those studies awakened my love for growing. When I was working one-on-one with clients it wasn’t enough for me, it wasn’t fulfilling me,” he said.
“How can I affect more people, and heal more people?” he asked himself, and the answer was clear: Heal them from within, with greens.
“I always loved the idea of growing food instead of buying things from the supermarket,” said Mr. Davison, who has worn many hats in his professional life, including growing marijuana in California for a spell in the 1990s, and spending time in India as a roadie for an American kirtan singer.
In fact it was when he was in India that Mr. Davison heard the words that are now the farm’s motto, uttered by a guru as advice on how to become enlightened: Feed people, serve people.
“That’s why I started all this,” he said, adding that microgreens were the perfect fit because he can grow them year-round, they have a quick-turnaround, they’re grown in a controlled environment and, of course, they have a high nutritional value.
“They’re an excellent source of enzymes, high in amino acids, they’re anti-oxidant rich. They’re rich in chlorophyll and all kinds of phytonutrients,” Mr. Davison said.
A recent University of Maryland study found that there were up to 40 times more nutrients in the microgreens than in their full-grown counterparts. A box of broccoli microgreens, for example, nutritionally, is the equivalent to eating a whole bushel of broccoli.
“I hate the word, because it bothers me, but they’re superfoods,” he said.
Mr. Davison says he eats them, of course, in salads, but also juices them and puts them in smoothies, and that they’re great on sandwiches.
“My other goal is to have them be a staple in the American diet,” he said.
“People who aren’t eating a balanced diet aren’t eating living food; they’re eating dead food. They’re malnourished and don’t even realize it,” he added.
In addition to continuing to preach the gospel of microgreens, Mr. Davison hopes to turn the rest of the 34-acre property into a biodynamic farm within the next three to five years.
Biodynamic agriculture, he explained, is the farming philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, and treats different aspects of farming as interrelated tasks, such as land fertility, livestock care and plant growth.
But that is still a long way off, Mr. Davison said, adding that he is going to have to hire people for the upcoming expansion.
“It’s going to take some time, it’s just not easy to find workers out here, there’s a ton of organizations and all these kids who want to farm, but there’s no place to live out here,” he said.
“This is probably is the hardest place in the United States to build a business and to sustain it year-round because of cost of labor, rents, and all that stuff,” he added