I have known about Midland’s best kept secret for a long time now, and I am kicking myself that I had not visited sooner! The fridges are stocked with produce including fresh harvested lettuces and herbs; prepared foods and even baking. All on offer is grown on-site and made in their commercial kitchen. Items are not only delicious, but vegan and gluten free.
This community-changing social enterprise is not only growing fresh leafy greens in their onsite vertical farm, but they are also working to grow the community through supporting women who experience social isolation, food insecurity and poverty. I have had a delicious experience with the amazing Operation Grow and their store is now part of my regular grocery shopping routine.
Many of you will know Operation Grow’s location as the former LCBO at Bay and Queen Streets, right beside the Midland Legion. The front of the building is Operation Grow’s retail store, but to get to the store, behind the glass hallway you see the magic of Operation Grow, its vertical farm. Floor to ceiling A-frame with rows of plants, growing hydroponically and indoors with LED lighting. This is the future of farming and it is generating local produce year-round.
The building also includes a commercial kitchen, meeting rooms and studio space, and they offer full catering services. I was here to pick up some of the soup I had seen on their Instagram feed that brought me here today.
The retail space on the front of the building houses fridges filled with kale, Salanova lettuce, butter head lettuce, romaine lettuce, basil, cilantro, mint, and parsley all grown in the farm. Other offerings include prepared foods including an amazing variety of soups, dressings, hummus, spreads, sauces, and even freshly baked cookies.
Although I wanted to try everything in the store, I finally settled on Loaded Baked Potato soup, Tomato & Dill soup, Creamy Caesar Dressing, Cashew & Kale Pesto, parsley, thyme, chives and of course my favorite leafy green, kale.
When I got home, I immediately heated up the Loaded Baked Potato soup. It was thick and creamy, with an incredibly smoky flavour, and a bit of a bite. I topped it with chives, sour supreme and some plant-based shreds. It was a tasty and delicious lunch with a crusty bread for dipping or to get as much as you can out of the bowl, before finally giving in to licking the bowl clean.
I bought Tomato & Dill soup which I had seen on Instagram and partnered it with some delicious sour dough grilled cheese sandwiches. The soup was fresh and light with great texture and made a delicious place to dip the sandwich for a taste sensation. It’s a great meal for a cooler winter day, so comforting and warm.
The following day I made a kale Caesar. I toasted up some sour dough bread with garlic and onion for croutons. I roasted some tempeh in the air frier and fried up some King’s Vegetarian simulated bacon. I added it to some red onion and Operation Grow’s farm fresh kale and topped it off with their creamy Caesar dressing. This was hands down one of the best Caesar salads I have had. The dressing was incredibly tasty and is one of their best-selling dressings at the store. I would return just to get this dressing! It is entirely plant based, delicious and you are supporting your community. What could be better?
I used Operation Grow’s cashew kale pesto with some boiled quinoa penne and air fried tempeh. When I crave pasta, I want it to be simple and delicious, letting the ingredients shine. This meal was so full of flavour and incredibly satisfying. It was an easy to make 10-minute meal that could easily be served in any restaurant. It would also make a great side dish.
I was so happy with everything I tried from Operation Grow. These are just a few reasons to visit and try the delicious variety of fresh-made items from the retail store, while picking up some farm fresh greens and herbs. Operation Grow is located at 436 Bay Street in Midland and is open Monday to Friday 9-5.