Inside Lettuce Grow
May 11, 2019
At first glance, you wouldn’t think Mina Thorlakkson is someone who likes to get her hands dirty. Her son Niels, Lettuce Grow’s Lead Urban Farmer, laughs and says, “My mom is an extremely committed urban dweller - she loves opera, and is always impeccably dressed.” Originally from Barcelona, Spain and educated in the fields of pharmacology and law, Mina exudes effortless elegance and sophistication. Her blue eyes take on a little extra sparkle when she recalls the path she took from seaside Spain to Southern California, tending Lettuce Grow’s baby seedlings. “When I was young, I came to Santa Barbara for vacation. I met Erik, fell in love, and here I still am!”
When Niels and his sister Ingrid were growing up, Mina ran a tight ship. Niels recalls fondly, “She was incredibly strict! I had a bedtime and a dress code - my shirt always had to be tucked in with a belt on. She was truly serious about manners and always had people keeping an eye on me. She backed off a little as I got older. Now, I'm glad she did all of that.” The family’s willingness to forge their own path - both Mina and Erik are entrepreneurs - instilled in Niels and Ingrid a fierce independence and a commitment to excellence.
When Niels started his own seedling production business, Mina stepped in to help out as her son got busier and busier. “I thought it was fun,” she recalls. Niels taught her the basics and then she just leaned into it. “There was a learning curve of course, but I’m very methodical. I experimented, I had some failures, and then I went to the library to read and learn. Growing plants is a beautiful, natural instinct.”
These days, she’s up with the sun to tend her babies. After harvesting a few greens for a morning smoothie, she’s out in the greenhouse with Sophie, her golden retriever, and Rose, her miniature dachshund, classical music playing softly. Her advice to gardeners? “Every seed, every plant is different, just like children. If you make mistakes, don’t give up - it’s very rewarding. When you see something sprouting and growing, the joy you’ll feel is very, very special.”