February 14, 2023
Small but mighty: The microgreens growing underneath a busy Islington street that are helping people to boost their diet and reduce their carbon footprint
An award-winning family-run startup is looking to transform the way we get our 5-a-day with their Islington-based initiative growing nutrient-rich microgreens.
Frances Pairaudeau and daughter Helena Hidalgo are the entrepreneurs behind Greens Made Easy, a business producing and selling the health-focused goods, and have been running their venture from the lower ground floor of Old Street Yard coworking space, TownSq Islington since July.
Microgreens concentrate vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in their tiny leaves, providing a healthy alternative to the mature form of the vegetable that can be added to any dish.
They are also much kinder to the planet and produce almost no waste in the growing process - no pesticides or fertilisers are used, almost zero food miles are travelled as the produce is sold at local markets, and just 5% of the amount of water used in industrial agriculture is required.
Frances said: “I know how it feels to be a busy mum juggling household responsibilities, working and caring for little ones - chopping and peeling enough fruit and vegetables to ensure we got our 5-a-day was a time-consuming task at the best of times. It’s no surprise that lots of parents find themselves tempted to opt for convenience options like ready meals and fast food to keep themselves and their family fed, despite the low nutritional value.
“Twenty years later, making healthy meals is much simpler by incorporating nutrient-dense microgreens into my cooking, which can simply be sprinkled on top of whatever I’m making - it’s something I hope will empower the busy parents and health-conscious people of today.”
TownSq Islington is operated by coworking and business support specialist Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq), a network of community-oriented hubs where entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers can work together within a shared space, in partnership with Islington Council.
However, some of the business’ most valuable work is being done outside of their TownSq Islington base, as the founders spend time in the local community spreading the word about the power of microgreens - which are still relatively new in the UK - to young people in schools and clubs.
Helena said: “We’re not only passionate about bringing microgreens into people’s weekly menu, but we are eager to get young people and their parents excited about eating, growing and cooking with them too. It’s so important that children eat plenty of nutritious food as they go through important developmental stages, which is why we’ve put so much time into developing our workshops for schools and youth groups, helping them to start growing microgreens at home.
“Younger generations are extremely environmentally conscious, so the eco-friendly element to microgreens seems to be really resonating too.”
The innovative and forward-thinking nature of Greens Made Easy has earned Frances and Helena the accolade of UK Entrepreneurs of the Year at the Shine Awards, operated by Swiss Re.
Anna Chuicharoen, General Hub Manager at TownSq Islington, said: “The achievements Frances and Helena have made already are outstanding, and thoroughly deserved given their hard work and genuine passion for health and environmental issues. It’s clear that local people have responded really well to the business so far as the products have been immensely popular.
“We are proud to have played a small role in Frances and Helena’s early business development and look forward to seeing what Greens Made Easy will achieve next.”
To find out more about Greens Made Easy, you can visit greensmadeeasy.co.uk or @greensmadeeasy on Instagram.