Alden Blease, the founder of R.E.D.D. protein bars, was wondering how he could best prepare for sheltering-in at his Maine home during the current health crisis. With supermarkets picked over, and risk of exposure to the virus possible with every trips to the store, he decided to bring the produce aisle to his basement and grow his own microgreens. Alden started his own garden with some s trays, a rack, lighting and most importantly, seeds.

R.E.D.D. founder Alden Blease






A Return to His Roots

Armed with seeds to grow spinach, mesclun, and lettuce greens, Blease built planters, complete with lighting and temperature regulation, all in an effort to reduce the need to leave his home. He already had a stash of shelf-stable food, so he wanted to ensure that he could access leafy greens to help sustain his vegan lifestyle. In just ten days, his microgreens have achieved over an inch and a half of growth. It's this fast pace of growth that makes these plants ideal to grow now: In just three weeks, microgreens are ready for eating.

What does he plan to make with his bounty? Salads, salads, and more salads! He also recently planted herbs, including cilantro, basil, and parsley—and even some watermelon seeds, to expand his supplies of fresh food.

Blease's microgreen garden

This wasn't the first time Blease got crafty with food: His protein bar company R.E.D.D. (which stands for Radiant Energy Deliciously Delivered) began during a health journey during his freshman year of college. He took a trip to a local health store and bought big bags of nutrient-dense foods, including oats, bran, coconut, and dried fruits and mashed them all together into a dough using agave nectar as the binding. This sustained him for over a week, and pretty soon his friends were asking for some. He turned this "dough" into bars, and word got out about these delicious, filling meal replacements. That's how, R.E.D.D. plant-based energy bars were born.

Blease's green thumb dates back to when he was younger and his father taught him how to sprout seeds; it sparked his love for gardening and the two watched their beloved PBS' show The Victory Garden together.

Photo Courtesy of Alden Blease

Micro-Gardening Tips for Success

If you're thinking of starting to grow your own microgreen garden, but you're lacking the in square footage, Blease is here to tell you that microgreens can thrive in any space, no matter how small. He shared with The Beet his tips for beginners who want to try their hands (or thumbs) at microgreen gardening and sustain themselves at home during the pandemic:

1. Always use organic soil: Just like any other art form, your growing medium matters.

2. Dive right in: The best way to learn is by doing. Experiment and see what works for you, and for your home.

3. You only need a small setup to get started: Plants want to grow—they just need a little boost from you to begin. Just because your setup is humble, doesn't mean it will be any less effective than an extravagant one.

If you still don't know where to start, there are a wealth of microgreen starter kits online. But like Blease says, don't overthink it! Gardening should be fun. While surfing the web searching for seeds, soil and kits, hop on R.E.D.D's website and grab a few of their well-loved bars, which are delicious, easy to keep on hand and will keep you nourished even when your grocery store's stock is depleted. They'll give you the energy for all that planting.

Photo Courtesy of R.E.D.D Bar

Each R.E.D.D bar has a soft, cookie-like texture and contains 10 grams of protein (nearly a fifth of your daily requirement!) 7-16 grams of fiber, and only 3-5 grams of sugar. The brand recently reformulated three flavors in their existing portfolio: Chocolate, Oatmeal, and Mint Chocolate are tastier and lower in sugar now, joining fan-favorite flavors Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel. R.E.D.D. is offering free shipping right now, and also sells direct to consumer through Amazon Prime and Thrive Market.