With new greenhouses under construction in Williams, booths at summer markets five days a week, a growing list of restaurants and stores as clients as well as a new baby, Kyle and Christi Reilly of TerraSol Organics are keeping quite busy this summer.
Kyle and Christi launched TerraSol, which specializes in organic microgreens, in 2013. The couple moved to Southern Oregon from Reno where Kyle worked in construction and sold produce at farmers’ markets. “I really enjoyed being the sales guy at the markets and interacting with the customers,” he recalls. “I decided I wanted to have my own booth, not sell other people’s produce.”
The couple had enjoyed their visits to see Christi’s mother in Grants Pass and decided it was a good location for their new business. “We didn’t want to go up against farmers with a huge variety (of crops),” Kyle explains, “so we decided to explore the niche of microgreens.”
It is a decision that has worked well for them. Currently, about half their revenue comes from direct sales in local farmers’ markets and half comes from sales to more than 24 restaurants and retailers in Southern Oregon, such as Uber Herbal, Lark’s Home Kitchen Cuisine, Lark’s Restaurant at Inn at the Commons, and Ashland Food Co-op.
“On the business side of things, microgreens provide a very quick turnover,” Kyle says, “and we have the ability to change and to adapt to what people want. That flexibility is a great thing… “A lot of people have been asking us for more variety, now we will have the space do that,” Kyle says of their new location in Williams.
He also enjoys growing a crop that provides such taste and nutrition. “Microgreens are really just a condensed version of that vegetable,” he points out. “They are surprisingly flavorful.” The consumer appeal is for their high concentration of Vitamins A, C and Folic Acid, and other antioxidants.
Pea shoots are the company’s best sellers, and Kyle adds that their versatility makes them perfect additions to salads, sandwiches, egg dishes, stir-fries and pastas. Kyle has even invented a home-growing kit to give sprout lovers a daily supply.
TerraSol sells microgreen shoots in small bags at farmers markets and in bulk quantities to stores and restaurants, such as They also sell eight varieties of seeds for customers who want to plant their own greens as well as a complete do-it- yourself kit for home growers.
On a recent Thursday, while Christi (along with six-month-old Ryan) was at a local farmer’s market, Kyle and the couple’s three employees were harvesting greens from about 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. “We work when it is cool,” Kyle explains, adding that everything Christi was selling that day had been harvested the day before.
TerraSol pea shoots and sunflower shoots will stay fresh in a customer’s refrigerator for about two weeks, Kyle points out. As a local farmer, Kyle tries to source as much as he can locally. “However, it is idealistic and sometimes unrealistic to do everything locally,” he says. “I buy as much as I can locally, but I buy so much volume that I cannot buy everything locally.”
As for the immediate future, Kyle says he is focused on getting his new greenhouses built and operating. Christi and little Ryan attend markets five days a week, where she enjoys the customer interaction, and Kyle tends to TerraSol’s commercial clients.
“Right now we are dumping everything we have into this business,” he admits. “We definitely want to keep growing until we get to the point that the business is really on its feet…We want to keep moving and shifting as we need to.”
When asked about what lessons he has learned so far from running his own business,” Kyle is thoughtful before responding. “Running a business is surprisingly expensive. I went from being someone who worked for someone else and didn’t see all the bills…
“I’d say I have learned the life lesson that nothing is cheap but that you need to do it right.”