The McCuaig sisters — Amy and Erin — grew up on a dairy farm in Shanty Bay, just a few minutes outside of Barrie, and although it’s been a long time since they had to get up at the crack of dawn to milk the cows or muck out the barn, the two are still putting to use all the hard work they learned as kids.
The pair launched their own business, called Sisters Seeds, about six weeks ago, growing and selling a variety of different micro-greens in a small greenhouse located on Amy and husband Gord’s farm in Midhurst, which spans more than 600 acres.
Micro-greens are the beginning stages of any vegetable, they explain.
“Most of the nutrients are in that seed and stem … (so) it’s not going out to feed the rest of the plant,” says Amy, who noted micro-greens contain up to 40 times more nutrients than traditional produce.
“We have about 40 places where I deliver it that have a monthly subscription and I deliver to them weekly,” she tells BarrieToday, adding their hope is to eventually get their greens and produce into local grocery stores and restaurants — as well as to provide weekly “food boxes” to residents across Simcoe County.
Having grown up on the family farm, the two sisters say they enjoy being outside and have never had an issue getting their hands dirty or the idea of hard work.
“We are some of the hardest working girls. I have always worked two jobs,” says Erin, who drives a snowplow for the City of Barrie. “We just have all kinds of different skills that (we) bring to the table. At the city, I drive equipment and do all of that like a man would do.”
“I feel like we were better than boys," Amy says. "My family only had two girls … so I feel like we probably worked harder than boys — and still do."
Both Amy and Erin have also always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
“I owned my own business, so when I started researching it, I realized that there was some money to be made,” Amy says.
Launching this new business, while also working a full-time job, is a lot of work, but it will all be worth it in the long run, they say.
“We have always dreamt of having a business together and to be financially independent," Amy says.
"Our goal is to have delivery boxes with our produce. Our cousin bakes bread, we have a guy who sells honey and we bake … so we want to do all that so you can order what you want and you can just order it to your door,” she adds. “I am trying to get it large enough so that (Erin) can quit her job and come on full-time. So hopefully that will be by summer and then we will be growing the garden.”
The plan is to build a winterized greenhouse for the micro-greens. And as soon as Mother Nature allows, they will create the outside gardens to begin to grow produce.
Eventually, the sisters hope their operation will grow large enough that they will need to relocate to the Shanty Bay farm property they called home as kids.
Although their current set-up may be small, Amy says microgreens require a lot of work.
“I compare it to dairy farming — you can’t leave them. You have to water them twice a day. It’s constant. There’s no vacation."