You may be used to having broccoli and cauliflower, chunks of lettuce, kale, or even a combination of colorful vegetables in the form of soup. Maybe you’ve been struggling to teach your kids the benefits of such foods or you’re lucky enough to have the whole family asking for more at the end of each meal. Vegetables are crucial for a healthy lifestyle and body nutrition. With Guilherme Martins and Cintia Milk at the wheel, Mighty Greens takes this to the next level: with an indoor farm in Macau, they produce incredibly nutritious tiny plants, properly called “micro-greens”. Besides selling it to residents, they’ve also been collaborating with restaurants all across the city and doing workshops to teach adults and kids the benefits of these and how to grow them at home. We tell you all about this new way of growing food, where you’ll get all the nutrients of a normal-sized vegetable in tiny doses.
Let’s start at the beginning: together with Cintia Milk, you founded Mighty Greens. What’s it all about?
[Guilherme] Mighty Greens is more than a company. It is a way of life, as it goes beyond the common barriers of business. Mighty Greens is all about sharing knowledge, by creating a more sustainable and better future, and ultimately empower people and bringing them together. As for the business component, we see it as a segment of a sustainable way of living.
[Cintia] The project started roughly two years ago, it’s an indoor farm kind of growth. We basically produce everything, order the seeds from Canada, and the US. Micro-greens is basically the first stage of a vegetable: micro-green, the sprout, then vegetable. It all started because of the lack of organic vegetables in Macau. We’re both vegetarians and Guilherme started thinking, “How are we going to eat organic foods that are affordable and give us the right amount of nutrients we need?”
Mighty Greens is all about looking to get more organic and searching for natural ways of keeping up with your health. Can you tell us what your main products are?
[Guilherme] At the moment our products are micro-greens, frozen wheatgrass shots, and herbs. But there are so many other avenues to explore to harness the powers of nature that we are keeping our doors open for “new” things to come.
[Cintia] We’ve got spinach, broccoli, kale, sunflower, beetroot, radish, wheatgrass, amongst others. If micro-greens is a vegetable’s first stage, then you’ll have up to two or three kilos of broccoli on a broccoli micro-green, nutrient-wise. A microgreen has three to four times the amount of nutrient of the respective vegetable.
It’s also great for people who don’t really enjoy eating vegetables that much. Also, because of how we grow them, nutrients stay together and are concentrated in that tiny food, so to speak. There’s no pollution or pesticide in it since it takes such a short amount of time to grow.
Do microgreens taste different from the vegetable itself?
[Cintia] Not really. They kind of taste the same. Sunflower does taste like sunflower, radish, mustard, onion, they also taste like the vegetable. Some are quite spicy and we let people know the flavors in the growing kits we’re now starting to sell. Some seeds take more time than others: some take months, others weeks.
What do these kits include and where are you selling them?
The kits include two cups–that can be biodegradable if you want to grow it to the vegetable stage–also the seeds, fertilizer (for the wheatgrass), and dirt so you can really plant it and grow it yourself. We did a proposal at a challenge last year (2019) where we designed the founding of a community of people who grow micro-greens. For instance, I’d grow tomatoes, you’d grow broccoli and so on and then people would exchange these.
Have you always been interested in this field? Was this always your goal?
[Guilherme] Well, from my side, to be honest, no. My professional field is completely different from what we are developing right now. I believe dreams and passions grow in certain periods of our lives. The thing is, we need to understand if these dreams come from a higher calling or not. If they come, then you need to fight for them and grow through them and never give up.
As for Cintia, she’s on the same page with me here. Although this was not our initial goal, we had always the desire to give something back to the community and Macau in general. This is our way of giving back, with love and passion.
Your first company, ManaVida, related to sports and fitness, also something connected to a healthier lifestyle. Was Mighty Greens created in connection to this?
Maybe the seed was planted long ago, but the soil wasn’t there yet. Actually, Manavida’s slogan #sweat for others is all about giving back. So, in a way, you could say Mighty Greens is a product of the work we’ve been doing with ManaVida. This is one of the reasons why we always connect both companies in events or workshops we provide.
Where do you source the “greens” you sell?
We buy the seeds from Canada, the US and other countries and then we produce all our greens in our local Christian church in Taipa, where we have a small farm.
Besides selling products, do you also do other events and activities?
Yes, we also provide workshops, events, community gatherings, and so on. At the moment we are leading a set of urban farm workshops for kids ranging from four–12 years old, as well as, empowering and working together with schools to have their own urban farms. A vegetable is perishable but education and knowledge are not!
What are the benefits of your products?
We always seek to produce vegetables that boost your immune system, balance your hormones, give you more energy, detox your body, increase your pH, are anti-viral or anti-inflammatory, and that overall enhance your health.
[Cintia] Microgreens are very used in high-end cuisine, gourmet and fine dining dishes. Chefs don’t do this just because it’s visually more beautiful, but also because it’s nutritious.
How can one achieve a “healthier” lifestyle in Macau, body and mind wise?
[Guilherme]Well, farming is an awesome way of de-stressing, connecting to nature, and exercise, even if you’re only doing a few squats to plant. Actually, Mighty Greens started exactly because I was super stressed with work and wanted to leave. God showed me a better way of living, by doing something he loved and by sharing my experience with others. If you are here and people don’t feel your presence, in a good way, then maybe you should remodel your goals.
Do you also sell your microgreens to restaurants in Macau?
Macau has been booming with restaurants, some of them focusing on vegetarian and more clean diets. How do you feel about this?
[Guilherme] That is great news! I’m a vegetarian myself, so I will have more places to dine now! To be honest, Mighty Greens is on a mission to teach a better way of living, and having a vegetarian or vegan diet is the way forward. If it is organic, even better! I have turned vegetarian mainly due to health reasons.
But there was this turning point in my life when I went to a pig farm in China and actually told this cute little piglet that I would never eat his family relatives or any of his kind in my life again. That was it! From that day forward, I’ve kept my promise! It is a funny story (Cintia even gave me a t-shirt with this story on it), but if we start evaluating our food choices we will notice we can make a big difference for the better. Step by step we need to develop into someone better, constantly looking, for the sino-japanese word “kaizen”, in order words “improvement”. Innovation and change can sometimes be scary, so if someone is looking to improve, take it easy, don’t get scared, fight, and don’t give up. Hope is always there.
When you’re not working, what are your favourite things to do?
I love to listen to audiobooks! I always look for ways to learn something new. But there are times we need to rest as well. Resting is imperative for growth to occur. The same thing happens when you go to the gym. You need to rest to grow healthy!
Can you tell us some restaurants you’d dine in?
Every restaurant that has vegetarian food basically! I think there is something here that is important to state that is, vegetarian food is not only eating salad. You can get stronger by eating beans, broccoli, peas, lentils, tofu, sweet potatoes, and so many other vegetable options. Fortunately, restaurants here in Macau are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of having wider food choices for every customer and that crafting vegetarian or vegan dishes can open new doors.
Where would you take your friends coming over to Macau for a visit?
My house! We have awesome healthy food! That is a first! Secondly, Macau has so so much to offer for such a small place. Of course, the casinos are one of its main attractions, but before visiting them, I would take them to eat some dim sum, and then I would walk with them through the streets of the Senado Square, the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Mount Fortress.
While in this walk, I would explain a bit of Macau’s history and how Cintia and I met (we were just 11-13 years old when there was a sparkle between each other). After that probably I would take them to Macau tower, the Lou Lim Ieoc Garden, the casinos and lastly, to relax I would go with them to show them Hac Sa Beach and walk on Coloane mountain trails and eventually to our urban farm.
Also read: Guide to Coloane’s Hiking Trails
What are your favorite things to do around the city?
We live in Coloane, so, whenever we have time, we go to the trails. Believe it or not, there are locals that have never been to Coloane or even Taipa mountain trails. Nature is a must! Getting Vitamin D helps your body function more efficiently and natural light regulates your sleep schedule.
Being in nature also calls you to unplug, center your mind, recharge you, it lowers your stress hormone levels, it helps you breathe better, the bacteria in the soil boosts your serotonin levels, and the physical activity pumps up your endorphins. Aside from going to the trails, I would go to the gym, or of course, spend more time on our farm. Lastly, I would try to spend more time with my loved ones. They are the ones who make everything worth it. Life without love…is pointless.
To get in contact with Mighty Greens, send an email to [email protected]