A childhood spent on a small farm in Greenbrier County gave Jordon Masters a grounding in agriculture, and horticulture in particular. That lifelong interest has led to the West Virginia University student earning a national scholarship from the Garden Club of America.
Masters, a fifth-generation farmer, earned the Katharine M. Grosscup Scholarship, created to encourage the study of horticulture and related fields and providing up to $3,500 annually. Masters will complete his B.S. in horticulture, take a semester off to further establish his business, and return to WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design to pursue a Ph.D.
That business, Allegheny Genesis, earned Masters a $10,000 prize in the Hospitality and Tourism category of this year’s West Virginia Statewide Collegiate Business Plan Competition. His trajectory towards Allegheny Genesis – farm to table – is particularly fitting.
“I became interested in microgreens about three years ago while working in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant in Lewisburg,” Masters said. “I saw first-hand the power they had for raising awareness of alternate crops. There are so many varieties of microgreens that most people would never eat as a mature plant, for whatever reason, but because of the combination of art, flavor, texture, and nutritional values microgreens have, most consumers will eat them without any hesitation.”
The market for microgreens has been growing rapidly, but there is no standardization for the definition of a microgreen, nor a standard time for harvesting them. Because of his interest in alternative crops and their importance to sustainable agriculture, Masters saw microgreens as the ticket for raising the profile of these crops. His undergraduate thesis focuses on standardization in microgreens, defining stages of morphology in microgreens for harvest maturity.
On the entrepreneurial front, Masters began growing and selling microgreens to local restaurants on his father’s farm.
“Every farmer has that one crop that they consider their niche, microgreens just happen to be mine,” he said. “My brother, Jared Masters, is a professional chef at the Greenbrier Sporting Club, and last summer we began working on a project to expand on alternative crops and sustainable agriculture in West Virginia.”
The work combined culinary arts, agriculture, and science in a way that was artistic and scientific and got a lot of support from colleagues and peers, resulting in a decision to open a business with the main final focus being research and education in gastronomy and agriculture. You can learn more at alleghenygenesis.wordpress.com.
CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design
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