FEATURE; Willets find business after life change

(Contributed photo)

By Rebecca Jones, special to the News-Times

CARTERET COUNTY — Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness. A person cannot control everything in their life, but they can control what they put into their body.

Ryan Willet said his day job was pretty sedentary, and it was taking its toll on him physically. He visited with a nutritionist who helped him not only understand portion control, but also helped him figure out how to include better things in his diet and remove some less helpful things.  

She got him to do simple things like add spinach to his eggs in the morning and use Kale instead of Lettuce for his sandwiches.  In including these greens, he wanted to grow them rather than buy them. He had always been into gardening, so he took a swing at growing it. You could say that necessity pushes you to uncover your potential and to make changes in your life.

Ryan said, “What my wife Rebecca and I learned was that every bug in North Carolina loves to eat greens as well.  We also struggled with the soil as it wasn’t the greatest.  We didn’t want to use commercial fertilizer or pesticides, so we were kind of stuck.  Then we stumbled into hydroponics and went down a rabbit hole on the internet.  At the end of the rabbit hole, we built a small deep water culture system in the house and started growing our own.  From there, we increased the size of our systems, eventually building a full greenhouse dedicated to greens production. Out of necessity came a business. At the same time, we were building the greenhouse, we added Microgreens to the line of products we produce.  Microgreens quickly became the backbone of our operation.  Using the different techniques and working to increase the soil biology has greatly increased our production and relieved many of the issues we struggled with in the past.  Each of the three areas we produce in all have their place and purpose.”

Ryan and Rebecca’s business is multifaceted. They have the Hydroponic Greenhouse, Microgreen Production room, and Market Garden Beds.  Hydroponics in of itself is a unique way of growing that allows them to produce more with less space and less water waste. Educating the public and opening their minds to the various flavors is a reward in itself.  They also grow to order for the chefs so they get the freshest product possible, get exactly what they need for pairing with special plates.  `

Ryan and Rebecca have found that the community here is exceptionally inviting of small farmers.  Without them, they wouldn’t be in business.  Time and again they have shown up to support the local farmers, even in the midst of a pandemic. Ryan says, “We couldn’t be more grateful for our customers, chefs, and local store owners that have not only supported us but helped and encouraged us to grow as much as we have.”

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