Using Iteration To Succeed

  1. the repetition of a process or utterance.
    • repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.

I would like to think that Microgreens Ottawa started with a desire to grow food for local consumption. To own a business; to succeed at something of my own creation. Although I had watched some Youtube videos, and spent a little time on the phone with a successful grower from Nashville, TN (Thanks for your patience, Charlie Crawford), I was hesitant to begin. No one wants to fail, and I had limited funds. The project would succeed or implode based on my actual ability to grow foodstuffs, and attract buyers or investors along the way.




It wasn’t a pretty sight to start.

I went to a local electrical supply store and purchased my first light, and hung it on two chains from the joists above. I “freecycled” a couple of wood pallets from Costco to build my table, even going so far as to save the used nails. (I’m Dutch, my father would have been proud)After that I dropped in at a hardware store to buy some rockwool slabs, and then to a health food store for a few varieties of microgreen seeds.


I can remember being pretty excited at the time. Immeasurable success was just around the corner, and if I could just get the plants to grow a little better, I’d be “off to the races”!

More lights, more pallet tables, reflective plastic, the list continued to grow. I put the lights on a timer, experimented with loose rockwool, then tried soil. I tried shallow trays with rows, deep trays without… it was frustrating and delightful at the same time. Each success was celebrated, and I was determined to view set backs as an opportunity to learn, reset, and start again (probably the hardest part).


By the time the 3rd iteration came into existence I was supplying wholesale greens every week to another grower. More than a dozen fixtures, along with two fans and a dehumidifier were helping the process. There were 70 trays growing at any given time and raging success was just around the corner.

It was around the end of June, 2014 that I received an offer that I couldn’t pass up. A friend offered me some commercial space in his office building very near my home, with nothing more than a “pay me what you can” deal! 500 sq.ft. on the second floor was way more than I could have hoped for.

This became the site of Iteration #4. I started by making some adjustments to the office space, it was necessary to pull out the carpet and base strip. I built new shelving, added more lights, and configured an automated watering system. The landlord was somewhat nervous about accidental “water events” affecting the tenants below my grow room, and other than a couple of puddles right at the beginning, we had success!

I was absolutely sure success was mine! And then …