This interview details Little Wild Things Farm, an indoor farming company based in Washington DC, USA. The interview is with Oksana Bihun, Vice President of Operations. Check it out on Urban Vine!

(NOTE: Filmed in 2020) Located in Washington, DC, Little Wild Things Farm is inspiring the next generation of farmers to build a brighter and more sustainable agricultural future. They produce soil-grown microgreens, micro herbs, hydroponically grown salad greens, and edible flowers on a less than one-quarter acre farm in the heart of DC. Little Wild Things Farm is run by an all-woman team operating out of an old parking garage, which has been transformed into a thriving urban farm!

Despite nearly going under during Covid pandemic, Mary Ackley, the founder of Little Wild Things Farm, was able to pivot their entire business model to focus on direct-to-consumer sales that saved the farm. They are passionate about sustainability and making fresh, healthy produce available to their community.

The Good Life is an inspirational and educational series of mini-docs and farm tours to encourage viewers to support their local farms and inspire farmers to change the world through regenerative agriculture. To learn more about Farmers Friend’s Caterpillar Tunnels, Quick Cut Greens Harvester, as well as our other innovative tools and supplies for small farms, visit

Little Wild Things’ Salad Share was featured on Good Morning Washington on Wednesday, December 21st 2022 ft. friend of the farm, Chef Jonathan Bardzik

The new President toured a woman-owned microgreens farm in DC

By Anna Spiegel for the Washingtonian

March 9, 2021

Dogs. Jeans. Bagels. Empathy. These are just a few of the regular human things President Biden has shown an affinity for since taking office in January—a big departure from the last four years.

On Tuesday, Biden did what could very well be the most un-Trump thing yet (we’re still processing): He toured a woman-owned microgreens farm in Northeast DC.

Biden dropped by Little Wild Things Farm as part of a visit to small DC businesses that have benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, and to highlight changes his administration is making to PPP. He first visited W.S. Jenks & Son, the oldest hardware store in DC, whose building houses two urban farms, including Little Wild Things and Cultivate the City.

Little Wild Things owner Mary Ackley, a career foreign service officer turned urban farmer, says she didn’t think a tour of her facility was on Biden’s schedule. But she asked, he accepted, and she was soon showing the President rows of pea shoots and celery microgreens, radishes and mixed brassicas. A lovely pink light colored the scene from a new hydroponic system that grows edible flowers.

Ackley says her seven-person operation, which pivoted from supplying restaurants to a new delivery “salad share” program during the pandemic, would not have survived without PPP.

“I told him we produced over 18,000 pounds of food last year from this space, and he was really interested in that,” says Ackley of Biden’s visit. Ackley says she gave the President a bag “of the most beautiful micro greens and salad blends we have.” An avid sewer, Ackley also made two Little Wild Things dog bandanas for newly exiled first dogs Major and Champ. She says another member of the White House entourage expressed interest in sourcing her microgreens, shoots, and edible flowers as well as more local produce.

“It’s like a dream come true. We’re the smallest of the small, and we’re working on issues he cares about like climate change,” says Ackley. “We’re trying to move forward and innovate through the pandemic and change the agricultural system. I’m so glad he was able to see the farm and take the time—that extra ten minutes meant so much to us.”

By Anna Spiegel, March 9, 20201

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Hosted by David and Nycci Nellis.

On today’s show:

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You might not expect to see farming in the heart of the nation’s capital, but a resilient young grower is putting the USDA micro-loan program to use in a concrete jungle.

A former parking garage in Northeast DC transformed into a living salad bowl. Micro-greens are young leafy plants, grown to between 8 and 20 days old from regular seeds. They’re highly nutrient-dense, and a favorite for local chefs who use these flavorful and color-packed ingredients.

The crops at Little Wild Things Farm grow under highly efficient led lights in soil, and Mary Ackley, Founder and CEO of Little Wild Things, says staying conservative on technology to focus on profitability. In terms of growth, she says qualifying for a USDA microloan was a game-changer.

I used that to hire my first full-time employee, my first full time manager, and so that was huge in terms of scaling.

Though there aren’t many experienced farmers in Washington DC, Ackley says there are a lot of ambitious young people interested in agriculture, and hiring staff with skills in science, engineering, and marketing has been a strength for the farm.

Focusing on the farm’s profitability has also allowed her to work on another goal, to demonstrate that agriculture can be a viable career for the best and brightest of the next generation.

Little Wild Things Farm is working to build, not only a profitable business here in the city center but also to build careers for young folks interested in science, technology and agriculture who aren’t from a rural background.

The city farm also works with a local veteran-owned business that removes used soil and plant material for composting. Ackley says the partnership helps to eliminate farm waste and recycle nutrients.

Report by RFD-TV’s Sarah Mock

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) — Down an unmarked trail at a monastery in Northeast Washington, you might not expect a farm delivering to some of the District’s top restaurants. 

And in an unmarked warehouse near Union Market, you probably wouldn’t expect an indoor farm.

But that’s exactly whats happening. Meet Mary Ackly—a young entrepreneur— she’s innovating the way America farms are created.

Ackly and her team of six employees, don’t just grow regular fruits and vegetables. They grow micro greens. Smaller, nutrient packed greens ready to eat just days after planting.

In terms of health, micro greens in general have about 4-6 times the nutrient density of a fully grown version of a plant.

Ackly’s company, Little Wild Things uses small, under utilized outdoor spaces in D.C., 80 percent of her farming is done indoors. When chefs call, Acky and her team deliver quickly.

She believes farming innovation in cities, both indoor and outdoor, must be the future.

Anyone can order from Little Wild Things by going to their website or visiting them at the Dupont Farmers Market.

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Go to any women’s clothing store and you’ll notice: Floral prints are having a moment right now. Shirts and skirts and dresses — and even men’s clothing — are festooned with flowers, in prints that are a throwback to the ‘60s or ‘90s. In the words of  “The Devil Wears Prada’s” icy editor in chief Miranda Priestly: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.

But here’s an area in which florals are actually novel. The trend is also sprouting up in food and, especially, beverages. It’s a natural evolution of several previous trends, including our love for rainbow colors and all things pink. “Food, like fashion, is driven by trends, seasonality and the occasional gust of hype,” said food writer Lee Tran Lam in Australian Vogue. Floral flavors were one of the biggest trend predictions for 2018, and one that has borne out right on time: just as those April showers bring May flowers.

Like spring crocuses, floral foods are starting to pop up in mainstream consumer products. The flavors you’re most likely to see are lavender, hibiscus and elderflower — each with its own distinct botanical flavor.

[Here’s how to make your own version of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding cake]


These are tiny white flowers that smell like perfume and honey. You probably know them from the liqueur St-Germain. You might also find it in gin, and it’s a flavor that pairs really well with gin cocktails.

Try it in: Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Lemonade, Blue Ridge Bucha’s elderflower sunrise kombucha.


There are a lot of flowers in the hibiscus family, but they are found in tropical and subtropical climates. Hibiscus flowers have been used for tea throughout history in many parts of the world, and they play a role in the cuisine of several cultures, especially in central America. They have a tart, berry flavor.

Try it in: Farmhouse Culture’s strawberry hibiscus “gut punch” sparkling probiotic veggie drink, Potter’s craft grapefruit hibiscus cider, Rishi hibiscus berry tea, Whole Foods’s 365 tropical hibiscus fruit bars.


It’s a divisive flavor, because some people can think it tastes like soap. But it’s gained popularity as the lavender latte, which uses lavender syrup, has become an unexpected coffee shop hit.

Try it in: Lavender lattes at your local coffee shop, lavender honey, Ice Cream Jubilee’s honey lemon lavender ice cream.

Other flowers

Other floral flavors you might encounter include orange blossoms, roses, violets and nasturtiums. Also sprouting in popularity: edible flowers as a decoration on salads and cakes (like my colleague Becky Krystal’s take on the royal wedding cake, here). When you buy edible flowers, make sure they were grown specifically for culinary use — you’ll want to avoid flowers that were sprayed with pesticides or chemicals. Your local farmers market is a great place to start. We got ours from the District’s Little Wild Things City Farm. A mix of violas, pansies and other assorted flowers, they have a mild arugula taste.

Try it in: Charm City Meadworks’s sweet blossom mead, Whole Foods’s 365 raspberry geranium fruit bars, Gideon Spring wildflower blossom honey.

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Edible flowers and microgreens are appearing in more dishes and drinks throughout the area these days, cropping up everywhere from Michelin-starred restaurants such as Barmini to food incubators like Union Kitchen.

One of the rising players is Little Wild Things; now in its fourth growing season, the Union Market operation is producing 30 varieties of edible flowers each year — and hopes to add more after relocating to a much bigger space later this year.

“Edible flowers have come into their own in the last year or two, with more people understanding their health and flavor benefits. They are so fun to play with, and can be savory or sweet or decorative,” says Little Wild Things director of operations Chelsea Barker.

To feed rising demand this past year Little Wild Things weeded out lettuce and radish production completely in order to focus on more colorful ingredients. Little Wild Things plans to leave its temporary growing space next to Union Market and expand to a permanent location in Ivy City this summer. That 3,000-square-foot warehouse location off Kendall Street, currently being built out for Barker’s business, will be three times bigger than her current operation.

The list of local restaurants hopping on the edible flower train is seemingly endless; BrescaService Bar,Beefsteak, and the Bird are among those already in on the action. 

Thinkfoodgroup’s Beefsteak integrates sunflower shoots from Little Wild Things in its new Little Wild Curry vegan bowl.

“Chelsea’s micro-arugula inspired our pesto for the Julia pizza,” says Timber Pizza Company co-founder Andrew Dana. “Working with these local farmers you are getting the freshest, and more importantly tastiest ingredients.”

Along with using Little Wild Things’ flowers and micro cilantro, Timber sources from a trusted group of producers. Its rooftop garden, located across the street, is managed by Love and Carrots. Goods from Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-Op in Pennsylvania and Owl’s Nest Farm in Maryland are also piled onto pizzas and salads.

A seasonal cocktail at Ocean Prime features a hint of color provided by another regional producer. Ocean Prime general manager Alex Schultz says the bloom floating in the Sakura Dawn is from the Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio; the flowers are picked there and shipped overnight to the D.C. restaurant.

Ocean Prime’s spring Sakura Dawn cocktail, with Pure Dawn Sake, Bombay East Gin, infused agave, and ginger bitters, is topped with an edible microbloom.

“It still has a clean look that does not overpower or take away from the cocktail itself,” says Schultz. Other floaters have included pink Egyptian Star flowers and Johnny Jump-ups (known for their vanilla flavor) and other members of the viola family.

Ocean Prime also uses pea tendrils from Blue Moon Acres in Pennsylvania on its short rib toast to add a crisp and herbal element to the dish.

Penn Quarter’s 701 Restaurant uses lots of microgreens and flowers in entrees and cocktails, mostly from Blue Moon Acres in Pennsylvania. Executive chef Lincoln Fuge tells Eater he especially likes micro herbs because of their “clean flavor,” as they “tend to be more pronounced and pure than the fully grown herbs.” 

Along with grilled swordfish with micro arugula and quinoa tabbouleh (pictured), 701 serves spring pea soup with micro mint.

Dirty Habit head bartender Sarah Ruiz integrates microgreens into the serrano ice that chills her Prickly Position cocktail. Their “slightly earthy and spicy notes” pair well with its smoky mezcal, she says. Most of the featured ingredients hail from local farms in Maryland and nearby Pennsylvania, Ruiz says, while other herbs and greens used for flavor or aesthetic purposes come straight from executive chef Kyoo Eom’s home garden.

Dirty Habit executive chef Kyoo Eom’s seasonal crudité looks much like an outdoor garden, integrating Johnny Jump-up flowers from Blue Moon Acres in Pennsylvania alongside raw vegetables over a bed of dried mushroom, pine nuts, and puffed rice.

And she’s not the only drink maker having fun with flora. On Monday, May 14, Royal is hosting an “April Showers Bring May Flower {Cocktails}” event featuring edible flower-infused syrups, floral spirits and liqueurs, and blossom garnishes.

Bars are also hosting educational pop-ups; Barmini recently held a “From Garden To Glass Cocktail Class” with St. Germain elderflower liqueur.

Once Little Wild Things moves this summer, the public should be able to catch a glimpse of the growing process in action. When Barker lived in California she worked in school garden education, and she plans to incorporate science lessons, tours, and tastings at the new space. She predicts that an added walk-in cooler and germination chamber will save the company 90 minutes of labor every day.

“We can really scale our business because we want to expand past the DMV area,” Barker says.

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Bar basements can be dank, scary places full of dusty bottles, secrets, and ghosts. But when you descend the stairs into the underbelly of Bloomingdale’s The Pub & The People,you’ll come across a small room filled with humming white lights and every shade of green in a Sherwin-Williams catalogue.

Admit it, you thought this was a 4/20 story about some sweet underground ganja. It’s not. What you’ll actually find are trays of soil-grown microgreens—itty bitty versions of vegetables and herbs including mustard greens, pea shoots, beet greens, Thai basil, sorrel, and arugula. Little Wild Things, an urban farming company founded in Dec. 2014 by Mary Ackley, grows and sells the fairy-sized greens to area restaurants including ZaytinyaHazelminibar by José AndrésDC Harvest, and more.

Tasting the microgreens is like one magic trick after another. A peewee leaf of micro-celery tastes like a fully-formed stalk, and a pinch of the peppery mustard greens mimics the moment you realize you’ve put too much wasabi on your sushi. They’re the gymnasts of the produce world (small but powerful) and there are benefits to eating them beyond their explosive flavor.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service and the University of Maryland studied the nutrient density of microgreens and concluded that they can have four to six times as many vitamins as mature leaves from the same plant. 

Ackley says, “I don’t want to be a snake oil salesperson. They’re beautiful and super flavorful.”

Bettina Stern, one of the co-founders of Chaia,agrees. The casual vegetarian taco restaurant in Georgetown is one of Little Wild Thing’s biggest customers, demonstrating that it’s not just Michelin-starred chefs who tweeze microgreens onto fine dining dishes.

“What they’re growing for us is the cherry on the top of that vanilla ice cream,” Stern gushes. “They’re the most beautiful, healthy, strong, big, glorious, hyper-local microgreens, and we top every single one of our tacos with them.” Stern admits Little Wild Things is one of the restaurant’s biggest expenditures when it comes to ingredients, but Stern says it’s worth it because the microgreens help bring a chef-driven quality to the tacos. 

Ackley says restaurants today are looking for quality ingredients and, like Stern, are willing to pay a premium price to work with Little Wild Things. Because the operation is so small, restaurants can place wholesale orders through an online portal and have the microgreens, edible flowers, or other products harvested and delivered the same day via Postmates. Weekly deliveries are also an option, and some chefs enjoy picking them up in person.

It doesn’t get any more local than that, and that’s exactly what Ackley is going for. “Local has been defined as 200 miles from D.C., which is not actually local,” she says. “There’s not anything wrong with those farms, but we’re trying to redefine what local means.” 

Ackley asserts that Little Wild Things has found success because she’s laser-focused on business. When most people hear “urban farming,” they think of social justice focused non-profit organizations that work to address issues like getting discounted produce into the hands of the city’s food insecure. “We’re the only one that’s a production farm trying to make money off of it,” Ackley surmises. She knows producing vegetables is very hard to do in a commercially viable way, but she’s trying to prove it’s possible.

That’s not to say Little Wild Things isn’t a good neighbor. The small space under The Pub & The People isn’t large enough to meet demand, so Ackley and her farm manager Chelsea Barker also operate an outdoor farm down the street at Carmelite Friars Monastery (2131 Lincoln Road NE). In lieu of paying to use the land, Little Wild Things makes donations to So Others Might Eat and to the monastery whenever possible.

The company contracts with Veteran Compost. “The local composting company is owned and operated by military veterans,” Ackley explains. “They make a custom, organic soil mix for us. Each week they pick up used soil and then re-compost it.”

There are ways to get your hands on Little Wild Things salad blends and microgreens if you’re not a chef with special access to the online catalogue. You can order them online through Washington’s Green Grocer and From The Farmer or you can shop for them in person at Each Peach Market (3068 Mt. Pleasant St. NW) and Little Red Fox (5035 Connecticut Ave. NW). 

As for what’s next, Little Wild Things is looking for a larger, permanent place. Ackley is currently in talks with developers and hopes to take advantage of an underutilized space in the District. Additionally, Little Wild Things plans to launch a “salad CSA” that would enable neighborhood residents and others to sign up to pick up bags of salad mix and microgreens on a regular basis. Stay tuned for details about the CSA on the Little Wild Things Instagram account, where chefs and home cooks can also find recipes.

Little Wild Things Farm,1648 N. Capitol St. NW; (313) 784-0498;

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