Raw Culture Farms

Freshly-cut Microgreens

At the market: Every Sunday in the Garden Room

Contact: Julian Milanesi

Call/text: 027 631 5388  

Email: rawculturefarms@gmail.com

Website: rawculturefarms.co.nz

Instagram: @rawculturefarms

Facebook:  @RawCultureFarms

Julian's Story

Julian Milanesi is busy harvesting microgreens for customers at Grey Lynn Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.

Where did you grow up?

I moved to Taranaki where I went to a farm school for much of my primary and intermediate school years, before moving back to Auckland for high school.

Farm school – is that how you learnt to grow food?

It was certainly the spark - we grew food, looked after animals, and did a lot outdoors, like camping and eel fishing.  After that, I have always been growing food – even as a teenager, I always had some tomatoes, and a few vegetables growing.


Why microgreens?

I was living with a dietician, and I caught her passion for microgreens - they are so nutrient dense. A microgreen contains significantly higher concentration of nutrients than the mature plant. We harvest them when the first two leaves have fully grown, because those are the “true leaves” that contain all the nutrients from the seed that would otherwise go into growing the full plant.


Our previous microgreen growers, Tony and Sho, recommended you when they both accepted big promotions in their day jobs. Tell me about how you know them.

I met them through the microgreen community, and they were very generous with sharing what they know – they taught me a lot. Most importantly, when I was wondering whether to get serious about being a grower, they supported me through that journey.


Tell me more about how you grow them.

My microgreens are grown on mats of food-grade NZ wool. After we have harvested the microgreens, I use the mats in my garden to suppress weeds and protect plants. Sometimes we give them to our chickens to line their nest boxes. I give some away, and any that are left, get composted.


How is the nutrient value of growing on wool compared to soil?

Actually, the critical factor is the wavelength of the light that they are grown under, more than the growing medium. Different microgreens require different light spectrums and the different wavelengths we chose allow us to control the stem-to-leaf ratio.


Which microgreens are most popular?

We grow over 35 varieties, and everyone has their own preferences which is why we do a live harvest at the market so that each customer can get the mix they want. Radishes are very popular, and some people are very keen on broccoli or coriander. I’m impressed with how knowledgeable many customers are.


Do many bring their own containers?

Lots of people bring back our containers to get them refilled, while others bring their own containers. Of course, we are happy to use one of our containers but it’s great to see how many customers are minimising their packaging at the market.


Where is your stall at the market?

I’m in the garden room, off the veranda, with the other big vegetable sellers. I’m enjoying being with them and it makes sense for us to be together.


Who are the people you have helping you at the market?

Woofers – visitors from other countries who come here to live with locals and work on organic and nearly-organic farms. I love the energy and enthusiasm they bring.


Your farm sounds like a fun place.

It sure is – in addition to me there are 11 chickens, 2 pet lambs, 2 cats, plus the revolving group of Woofers. I have a garden and, of course, an expanding indoor, vertical, farm.


What do you enjoy if you get any down time?

Spending time with my animals, family, and friends, as well as learning new practical skills. And when I can, I love to go to wellness workshops and festivals - I enjoy the positive vibe of the community.

Published in Ponsonby News February 2024