Welcome to Sprout Wonderland
It was May of 1993 when we sprouted our first seeds professionally. We were expecting our first child, were about to move into our log cabin (no running water, small solar power system which allowed us to run up to 150 watts at a time, no indoor plumbing, heat only from a woodstove - you know - a real log cabin), and we were in our first month as venders at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin (which was 90 miles away from our cabin). We were planning on selling heirloom vegetables, and seeds (which we were going to save from vegetables we grew). It was a wet spring in the Midwest. We were unable to get our garden planted early, and once we had sold all of our plant starts we had nothing to sell. We were destitute, living on less than $150 a week (more than half of which came from the Farmers Market). The day we sold our last plant starts at market, Lori asked; what are we going to bring next week? I replied that there was nothing I could grow in a week. She suggested sprouts. "I hate sprouts!" said I "you grow them if you want to." So, Lori went to the food co-op in the town we lived near (Gays Mills, WI - population 500) and bought some seeds to sprout. The thing about Lori is that she didn't just buy Alfalfa and Mung Beans - she bought Adzuki Beans, Lentils, Peas, Wheat and more. She got our quart sized mason jars out (we did a lot of canning back then, so we had dozens of jars) and soaked the seeds. By weeks end we had 50 mason jars full of various sprouts. We did better then ever at the market. We took our money to a co-op in Madison (Mifflin Street Co-Op) and bought more seeds. By the third week I was on board. I love seeds, so I found that was my way into sprouts. We made up mixes that made even me like sprouts as a food. We started growing in nursery trays (rinsing, draining and subsequently cleaning 50 quart jars every week is a pain). We were selling something completely unique at this amazing market (the Dane County Farmers Market was, and is located around the state capitol in Madison. It had a lot of organic producers, even back in 1993 - and was patronized by 15-20 thousand people every Saturday). No one had ever seen sprouts grown from many of the seeds Lori started with - and our offerings grew dramatically as the weeks passed. We learned how to grow by comon sense. We made a lot of mistakes, but as time passed we developed our own methods, which allowed us to add even more seeds to our mixes. We're still learning.
Thanks to all of you! We've been Sproutpeople for quite a few years now, and we've been sending seeds to some of you for well over a decade - we get a kick out of seeing your names on your orders - we don't know most of you personally, but we feel a kinship of sorts. You make it possible for us to live our lives, raise our kids and animals, and - you are helping farmers do the same. Because you buy from us, we buy from our farmer friends. We aren't big, but our 40,000 pounds of seed (which is about what we buy every year) is sales our farmers wouldn't have - and every little bit counts - ask any farmer - or anyone else for that matter.
I have to take this space to advertise a couple things. Share a smile. Smile at a stranger, acknowledge someone positively. If we all do it, it will spread a lot faster. Along that track, thank you so much for all the kind words you send us (while checking out of our shop or sending E-mail) - it is truly touching and hugely appreciated! May you all be well and happy.