‘I thought someone was winding me up'
A TWEED Heads micro greens grower was on the brink of closure due to a devastating coronavirus pandemic downturn when an early morning phone call changed his life.
Pocket Herbs owner Iain Reynolds suffered a 100 per cent downturn in sales after COVID-19 caused a nationwide shut down of the hospitality industry.
His micro greens that once graced the plates in restaurants, casinos and cruise ships throughout the country sat untouched at his Burringbar farm.
Mr Reynolds said during the height of the pandemic he stood down 17 staff and had lost hope for the future.
But a phone call from one of the country's biggest retail giants has seen Pocket Herbs back in business.
"I was sitting at home on a Sunday morning reading the paper and my phone was going off," Mr Reynolds said.
"I didn't recognise the mobile number and I thought, 'Well if it's work, I'm not interested, it's Sunday and I had been working seven days a week'."
Mr Reynolds said his phone "pinged" to the alert of a voicemail message and then again to a text message.
"I couldn't quite believe what I was reading. It was the head of the fresh produce division of Coles Australia. He wanted to reach out and introduce himself to ask if he could assist in any way.
"When I spoke to him, he was very interested in what we were doing and felt there was a market for our product in Coles.
"I thought someone was winding me up at first."
Mr Reynolds explained a Coles representative saw a promotion about his micro greens farm for an upcoming episode on the ABC's Landline.
Just weeks after Coles first contacted Mr Reynolds his micro greens were stocked in dozens of stores in NSW and Queensland, including Elanora and Miami.
Mr Reynolds supplies 40 cartons containing about 500 living micro green pots a week to Coles and is now frantically trying to recruit staff to help.
"For us in terms of business, it isn't a large number. We used to pack 700 cartons a week for the food services industry … but it's a fantastic start.
"We're testing the market and learning how to range it in store.
"But I got an email this morning (from Coles) saying they're happy with the sales which are northwards of 80 per cent.
"I'm like an expectant father at the moment, I don't know whether I'm going to have a successful child or not."
The living micro greens come in 10 different varieties including lemon balm, radish red, chervil and shisho green to name a few.