Meet the Expert: Revol Greens
Minnesota locavores have a lot to celebrate when it comes to high-quality, seasonal produce — until winter hits. Then the celebration often turns to a lament. Sure, locally grown hydroponic tomatoes can be found, and so can delicacies made from summer’s bounty, like kimchi and pickled beets. But historically, once the snow flies, locally grown leafy greens become a memory or a dream.
That changed in 2016 when Steve Amundson, Marco de Bruin, Jay Johnson, Brendon Krieg and Marc Vergeldt founded Revol Greens with two-and-a-half acres just outside Owatonna, Minnesota. The company grows fresh, local and sustainable greens year-round (yes, year-round!) without the use of pesticides, herbicides or other harsh chemicals. And thanks to a plant-based, all-organic fertilizer pioneered by the Revol team, they introduced a USDA-certified organic line of lettuce varieties in early 2021.
How does the company pull off this agricultural mini-miracle? Revol uses large-scale glass greenhouses that provide natural sunlight, they add in supplemental high-efficiency LED lighting on short winter days, and they capture rainwater and snowmelt from the greenhouse rooftops to meet almost all of their irrigation needs — which aren’t many. Revol’s high-tech hydroponic system is breathtakingly efficient. “We use 90 to 95 percent less water than outdoor field production,” says cofounder Krieg. And their Owatonna operation, which has expanded to 10 acres since the company was founded, produces “the equivalent of 300 acres of open-field production,” adds Krieg.
That efficiency, combined with the rainwater and snowmelt capture system, minimizes Revol’s ecological footprint and makes it more resilient in a changing climate. “We had enough water reserves in our retention ponds that we weren’t impacted by this summer’s drought,” says Krieg.
He started paying attention to climate-resilient agriculture when he was a produce buyer at Target. “I became interested in this space because I saw firsthand the impact of the drought in California and how climate change impacted the availability of products we needed,” he says. “So [starting Revol] was not just about doing good from a sustainability perspective, but also about seeing the opportunity to regionalize the supply chain.”
Being local (and only shipping within the Midwest) also means Revol can offer the freshest greens all year long. They harvest and package produce the same day, and they ship within 24 hours, so consumers get the best tasting, most nutritious and longest-lasting greens.
Lunds & Byerlys was an early adopter of Revol’s mission and vision, and we’re proud to stock their fresh greens year round. “Lunds & Byerlys has been an amazing partner since the beginning,” says Krieg. “They were one of our first partners. They have helped us grow the business and the brand.”