Local producer grows affordable, organic herbs

Travis Flatt of Upward Harvest glancing over the micro greens in his aquaponic garden. (Shannon Cornman)

Travis Flatt of Upward Harvest glancing over the micro greens in his aquaponic garden. (Shannon Cornman)

Locals can have fresh microgreens and herbs for cooking in a new and convenient way. Microgreens, a chef favorite, are petite vegetable greens that add color, nutrition and flavor to dishes.

They are now available at select supermarkets, thanks to Edmond resident Travis Flatt, his on-trend growing methods and his Upward Harvest product line.

Flatt uses aquaponics, a soilless growing method that uses fish and plants in a symbiotic relationship.

“The fish provide the nutrients for the plants, and the plants provide filtration for the fish,” he said.

After the plant clusters are started, they’re then potted and sold for about $2-$3 at his farm, on his website and at local stores. They’re also economical in other ways. The plants are “environmentally responsible” and use 10 percent of the water and 5 percent of the land that conventionally grown produce uses, he said.

Flatt finds it frustrating that healthy, organic products are normally out of financial reach for lower-income families.

“We really want to put organic in the hands of every demographic; we want it to not be in the hands of those that can afford it. We want to make it available to everyone. That’s really what we’re trying to do,” Flatt said.

At Buy For Less, 3501 Northwest Expressway, Upward Harvest plants are on display with the organic produce. They are neatly wrapped in a soil-like fabric with a small information tag attached with a rubber band. There is almost no waste; the “pot” can be discarded when ready to use, or the whole thing can be planted to provide fresh herbs whenever they’re needed. Herbs and greens are easy to take care of — they require minimal watering and will grow easily in a pot in a kitchen window. One cluster of basil is enough to add to a favorite dish.

Upward Harvest has 14 varieties of microgreens, including radishes, dill, beets, wheatgrass, arugula, kale and amaranth. Flatt is working on a new greenhouse so he can add even more varieties.

Ten-thousand gold fish fertilize the aquapond at Upward Harvest. (Shannon Cornman)

Ten-thousand gold fish fertilize the aquapond at Upward Harvest. (Shannon Cornman)

His plants now live on a multistory platform, and they are constantly moving in a bath of nutrient-rich water that provides all they need for fertilization. Ten thousand goldfish, which live in a separate part of the greenhouse, play a crucial part in the growing process simply by living there. While the plants and fish are kept in different areas, they share the same water.

 Basil plants at the Upward Harvest greenhouse ready for packaging (Shannon Cornman)


Basil plants at the Upward Harvest greenhouse ready for packaging (Shannon Cornman)

“The plants basically go on a ‘lazy river’ ride where they get adequate sunlight and nutrients,” said Flatt.

Thanks to the fish, there’s no need for the chemicals that are usually used for hydroponic growing. In return for their services, the fish get a sparkling clean tank and fresh air.

Upward Harvest microgreens are available for purchase at area Buy For Less grocery stores, Urban Agrarian at 1235 SW Second St. and Uptown Grocery Co. at 1230 W. Covell Road in Edmond. They can also be picked up at the Local Harvest Farm out near E. Waterloo Road and S. Coltrane Road in Edmond. Order online and learn more at upwardharvest.com. Local delivery is free for Internet orders over $250.

The plants travel along a "lazy river" where they receive adequate sunlight and nutrients from their fish neighbors. (Shannon Cornman)

The plants travel along a “lazy river” where they receive adequate sunlight and nutrients from their fish neighbors. (Shannon Cornman)

Print: Upward mobility, Local producer Travis Flatt grows affordable, organic microgreens and herbs.

Devon Green

Devon Green is a life and food reporter for Oklahoma Gazette. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband Kevin and their two slightly evil felines, Goodluck Jonathan and Charles Taylor. Devon has a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Oklahoma and once ran away with the circus to Macau, China. She is passionately local and lives to promote quality of life in OKC. She can most often be found eating, writing or writing about eating — while eating.

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