Ep 121: Quality Specialty Vegetables – Babe Farms

You’ve heard “quality over quantity”, right? Well, what if you could have both? Our guest today is Jeff Lundberg from Babe Farms in Santa Maria, California. Babe Farms grows quality vegetables and also grows a quantity of varieties, from traditional veggies like carrots and radishes all the way to lesser known vegetables like romanesco and frisee. Jeff and I chat about the start of Babe Farms, the relationships they’ve built with customers and how their Farm Days bring out tons of locals looking to learn how their food is made!

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Show Notes

  • History of Babe Farms
  • Jeff’s background
  • Types of produce grown
  • What does sustainability look like on the farm?
  • How has social media helped showcase the farm?
  • Examples of specialty veggies
  • Crop Talk Newsletter
  • What has been Jeff’s biggest win at Babe Farms?
  • Relationships with workers
  • Yearly Farm Day.  

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Transcript

There might be a few typos, but you’ll get the gist!  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Trevor Williams
2:55
Yeah, absolutely. So you’re with babe farms, a specialty crop growers. I’m super excited to chat with you guys. So before we kind of dive into that, tell me a little bit about your background and kind of how you got started working with big farms.
J
Jeff:
3:09
So I’ve been in the ag area I’ve involved in ag all my life. My family. Were as far as like, as long as I’ve known. I grew up on our farm as a little kid, my grandfather was a farming, his his grandfather. So we’ve been in the business for a long time. So it was kind of inevitable, I kind of grew up in a little, little kid riding around and attracted with my dad. I can remember falling asleep. Watching the wheels go around on the big tractors back in the day. So I have fond memories of all that. So born and raised in the business and in Santa Maria as well. So Santa Maria is a fertile valley that has ocean influence. And and it’s been it’s a it’s it’s farming is what it’s not important.
Trevor Williams
3:54
That’s awesome. So you guys grow a lot of stuff. I’m looking at your website. And it’s awesome. By the way, I love geeking out over like really nice website. So as it says you’re the pioneer, especially vegetables. So what’s your whole production? Like? What do you guys grow? And kind of how is it kind of grown from what it started out.
Jeff:
4:13
So they, they’ve grows a lot of varieties of products, we probably grow 70 varieties. And it’s probably we did that 52 weeks a year, which is kind of not as normal around here. We are a little milder climate in the Salinas Valley. So most people even in Santa Maria traveled to you in the winter months. And we do for some organic production and some things that we have some growers down there, but but the large majority, you know, over 90% of what we do is year round here in the Santa Maria Valley. And of those 70 varieties, we probably grow them in groups like 15 varieties, 15 different commodity groups that we call them. They’re either they have like cultural practices, meaning we reform Have them same, we transplant them the same, we cultivate them the same, we fertilize them the same, we treat them the same, so it’s easier for us to treat them as groups. So probably 14 or 15 different groups. And it’s like a large garden out there. Not it’s when I tell people I grow 70 varieties, they look like look at me like I’m crazy. And maybe we are we try to do we try to do it really well. It’s it’s a niche farming. It’s a large niche farm now but at one time, it was very small. And we grow it we try to be very consistent. Our biggest outlets is white tablecloth and high end shefte restaurants. So obviously COVID in the pandemic did not help us because we were so heavily weighted in food service. We are doing a better job of diversifying Avi I thought I was pretty diversified growing 70 varieties, but to be honest with you, when a pandemic hits and the world shuts down, you figure out real quick that you’re not as diversified as you may have thought.
Trevor Williams
5:58
I can’t imagine. Yeah, COVID kind of threw everybody in knuckleball, I mean, I know. I’m here in Florida. And so I knew a lot of South Florida farmers they started if they were selling direct to restaurants or wherever they would then start selling direct to consumers. And that kind of worked out really well. So what are some ways that you guys kind of pivoted during the whole COVID or I guess, during COVID, because it’s still kind of going on?
Jeff:
6:18
Well, we’re, we’re pretty big operation as far as many moving parts and probably have 250 employees. And we farm about 1000 acres 200 of that is organic. So when when the pandemic hit, and we planned months, even a year ahead of time, we’re working on projections right now for next spring, just trying to stay ahead of it. Understand plan acres and things like that. So when the code when COVID hits, and it shuts it off in a day. I mean, I remember the day it was March 12 and in the world has stopped. And we had acres and acres of product and made us sick because you drive out there and when when the restaurant business really shut down, there’s really no outlet. People ask why? How do you waste that much food, there’s no way you can turn it around and find alternate avenues you know, supermarkets and retailers have have contracts and they have relationships and we have some of those we just didn’t have enough to handle that. That surge of all that product. It was supposed to go to fruit servers, and then all of a sudden was turned off like a light switch. It was crazy. So we some things that that affected us it was weird. Just like the pandemic affected businesses differently. Meaning Home Depot’s in the lowest of the world and the big business to Walmart’s and targets they had their best year ever, you know, you see that which kind of made me sad because the small mom and pop and I would consider our our farming operation a family business. It may grow 1000 acres especially but we are very family oriented. And and I’m not a corporation by any means. My mom and I are on the board and we usually have conversations over coffee and we we write things down on napkins, we do not have corporate meetings if we can help it.
Jeff:
7:57
So we we had some we had some changes in how things you know, the pandemic made people buy different, what they looked at some of the more hardware items we go karate and kale and kale was a superfood years ago but it really made a comeback in the pandemic because people were in supermarkets buying the things that they were comfortable with and they knew would last you know those all those hardware items, carrots, potatoes and things that I think that I don’t grow. I go specialty carrots, but there’s a lot of things out there. Broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, people are in the storage buy in that stuff because they were forced to the more restaurants they were all at home cooking.
Trevor Williams
8:34
Yeah, that’s very interesting. I mean, yeah, I saw so many people throughout the country, they were even having to dump produce because they had nowhere for it to go. And I heard a lot of consumers think well, why can’t you donate all that stuff to pantries and food pantries. But I mean those food pantries only have so much cold storage, they can store all the produce at so it’s crazy.
Jeff:
8:55
Exactly right. We did donate a lot. We were I mean, at that point, we just tried to get rid of it. Give it to somebody that can use it. But there was so much so many people doing the exact same thing. You’re exactly right. They can only take so much. I mean they can only hold so much. And then the product is perishable in the field. So it’s ready this week and next week there’s another planning ready so you just continually the pot pile up You can’t just sit there and sit on it a week probably yes. But any more than that you’re overdue and you just need to get rid of it.
Trevor Williams
9:22
Yeah, no, I can imagine. So I know when it comes to like big farms that kind of do like kind of mono cropping kind of like corn, wheat, soybeans and stuff like that. But on a big vegetable farm like you guys do y’all crop rotate it all How am I how exactly does that work on your operation?
Jeff:
9:38
So we do we rotate the so strawberries is a big commodity in the Central Valley along with watsonville Oxnard and Salinas and Santa Maria has really grown in strawberry acreage. We have strawberry farmers that we rotate with probably upwards of 200 acres every year. I rotating this so we’re farming 1000 acres. 200 of that is in rotation at all at all at all times. So if a farmer 2000 acres, 200 acres, we’re getting around in every five years, those 200 acres of strawberries are on a different 200 acres of farming that I do, which helps me break cycles along with all my commodities, I definitely have a rotation by myself. But strat rotating with strawberries is a tool to help break disease pressure, because you can really make yourself some problems by farming the same type of commodities on the same ground over and over. So strawberries is one way that you do that. And strawberries have the same need, they will have serious problems if they farm Strawberry Strawberry strawberries, they can get away with it twice. And so can I usually, but if you start doing things two or three times, four times for sure, you will make yourself your own problems. No, I
believe you. Yeah. I love learning about Florida or California strawberries because I know Florida and California kind of have a little bit of a rivalry because we I mean, both days are kind of the rare ones where we can grow 52 weeks out of the year. And if most of the countries down Florida and California are growing, we’re growing strawberries and no, I think Plant City is the winner, strawberry capital of the world. But I think like for the rest of the year, you guys in California are the strawberry capital of the world.
Jeff:
11:12
Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. It really gets going here in March, April, depending on how cold or wetter winter is. And it just rolls all the way into November, December. The longer they can hold on to it. They will depending on when rain starts here. But yeah, you’re right. Those, those those strawberry acres are very popular during those times. And California is big. I bet
Trevor Williams
11:35
so yeah, we’ve got a place down here. I think strawberry crest. It’s kind of around Tampa. That’s kind of the big strawberry belt. And I mean, they are obsessed with strawberries down that there’s a strawberry festival. I know people that make like strawberry pizza, which it’s like a dessert kind of so are you all kind of the same way do you have like a particular area around Santa Maria, that are kind of like obsessed with strawberries around the area.
Jeff:
11:58
There’s a strawberry festival in Santa Maria annually. I think they missed it last year with the COVID pandemic but it’ll be back and it is a big deal. You’re right strawberry, everything from drinks to decorations. It’s amazing what they can do with strawberries. They definitely, they do it all.
Trevor Williams
12:14
That’s so cool. Yeah, I’m about, I think an hour and a half from Dothan Alabama. And I think something like 70% of the country’s peanuts come within a 50 mile radius of them. And they’ve got a huge peanut festival. They’ve got these funny little peanut statues outside of buildings where they all like kind of customize them. So it’s always cool kind of seeing like communities kind of rally around their local commodity. So whether that’s in Florida, Alabama, or California. So I know sustainability is getting super popular as people want kind of a more sustainable food system, and they just want to buy, I guess healthier, more sustainable crops or food whenever they go to the grocery store. So what are you guys doing to kind of be more sustainable, and also to let you know, to let people know what you guys are doing.
J
Jeff:
12:58
So we sustainability is kind of a necessary item, it’s not something that we have ever not wanted to do. But the more productive you can be, which sustainability kind of helps with that as far as not abusing your soil. There’s no one that wants the soil to be healthier and fibrin than the farmer because that makes productivity. So we do things like drip irrigation, which saves on water, we do a lot we do drip everywhere we possibly can, there are certain crops that just do not aren’t conducive to that we do things like cover cropping. Obviously, the rotation I spoke about any reservoir that we may have, we have one reservoir that we treat the water. So that is all within specs of melt lgma, which is a which is a committee or advisory association that we are all part members of we will recycle water. Any sometimes when reservoirs will catch water, or we have catch basins, there’s rules in California that you can’t have your water running on your neighbors. So what we’ll do is pump it out of rules, reservoirs and use that water to water roads. Our commercial fertilizers are no longer used on organic farming for obvious reasons. So we’re rotating those crops, with other varieties trying to get used beneficials to suppress disease. There’s there’s definitely some tools in the in the in the toolbox that we use to do that. So it’s it’s very much a family business. farm workers are part of that maintaining self and have a safe and healthy work environment for employees. We do not exist without our employees, we have a great team of employees and labor such a shrinking value. You know, as far as commodity, we try to take care of that commodity. Those people are just doing what everything does, and we have some really long term employees has worked for us for a long time. So we really respect that and we’re proud of that.
Trevor Williams
14:57
That’s awesome. Um, yeah, so before I forget I know water in California is kind of a hot commodity. So what’s that? What’s that struggle like when you’ve got 1000 acre farm, but you’re also in a state where water is kind of scary or something, you’ve got the fires going on and stuff like that. So what’s that struggle like?
Jeff:
15:13
It’s difficult by for sure. We live in we farm in an area that is mostly supplied by underwater aquifers, which were blessed. The Yuma area, and Arizona is all driven by canal system. So it’s all open water. So from a food safety perspective, our system is much more desirable because you pump it out of the ground. But that doesn’t make more water you. I mean, Mother Nature has to be part of that. The drip system that I was explaining to you at some of the water conservation practices that we do where we do hot over water, we do not waste water. We don’t waste fertilizer. I remember years ago, I mean, inputs were cheaper, when I was just a kid get into it, I remember remembered, you would plant more you would fertilize more, because all those inputs and even water was more more prevalent, you would be able to do all those things. Just because it was easy. Just make sure you had it to make sure you available. We don’t do that we do not grow anything or apply any input that we know isn’t going to be utilized completely. Or at least, you know, harvested. We do not plan for the hope this gets harvested. We don’t waste. There’s no such thing as waste anymore. In in real time farming.
Trevor Williams
16:31
Yeah, I like that. I like that. So in terms of harvesting, I know you mentioned your workers earlier. And I know Shea Meyer is I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him with I can’t remember why he produced I think they grow onions. And I can never remember if he’s in Colorado or Idaho, but we had him on the show. He deals with a lot of onions. And he recently went to the Senate or to the US Capitol to kind of talk about working with immigrants, hoa visas and stuff like that. And I know COVID had a huge impact on that. So I mean, what what is the whole labor situation right now because I know, picking 1000 acres of vegetables like that’s hard labor.
Jeff:
17:10
It is it is like I said we have approximately 250 employees year round. That’s probably what I have gone for me the most a lot of including strawberries are very seasonal. So it’s hard to hold on to labor if you can’t get it on paycheck 52 weeks a year. I’m one of the few farms that sticks around and farmed. I’m as busy and Thanksgiving weekend or, you know, things November in December as I am in March and April. And it’s because we have that used to be before COVID. And we’re still the new normal is different than it once was. But we definitely have a used to have a very seasonal push for the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not that’s not normal for vegetables, I guess it is, but it’s more prevalent in my business. And last year was an anomaly, obviously. But usually we get this big push for the November and December months. That keeps us busy. And that year round consistent. You know, workload is actually something that helps me hold on to labor. My labor is side of employees have been with us for honestly, 2030 years, I have individuals that have a harvest foreman, carvers manager, who his mother works for me and my sales desk. She’s worked for us for 30 some years, and he’s worked for me for 10 ever since he got out of college. Oh, wow. So those are, those are success stories. It’s pretty cool.
Trevor Williams
18:32
Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s cool to hear. Yeah, I’ve heard more and more stories about large operations that have workers like that, that kind of stick around for the long haul. That’s awesome. And so I actually found you guys, I think on Instagram, and it seems like you’ll have a pretty active presence on social media on the internet. And so what I mean, what was the inspiration behind that? And how are you guys using that as kind of a tool to show people what you guys are doing and all about your great produce.
Jeff:
18:59
So I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a social media, social media on Facebook, but my marketing person came to me sales and marketing manager now came to me and said, You know, this is where I’m this has been years we’ve been doing this for probably eight or 10 years. And it’s kind of a pay it forward kind of expense. And and it’s a it’s a it’s an education, we use social media, mostly for marketing. It’s a tool to reach to the end user, really the chefs, the retailers, the shoppers, the food, bloggers, you know, etc. It helps it helps answer questions, it directs them to where they can purchase our products. Really our color, our diverse product line really translates well on social media. It appeals to people we get a lot of people looking at our, our, our website just for the things that you you bring up because it’s it’s easy to look at. Not everybody has that many colors, and that array of variety to look at so it really helps us. We we have opportunities to collaborate with others. companies and we use social media to kind of get that out there. There’s an example there’s a there’s a woman here on the coast and uses our product she does crazy boards, like crudity board giveaways, and she will use our products build these amazing plugin ridiculous looks like flower arrangements, and then she’ll, she’ll put him out there for weddings and events. And people don’t even want to touch him. They’re so pretty, but you can eat everything on the plate from from whatever whatever is there. From carrots to bok choy to to it’s just gorgeous radishes we have all these different colors or radishes cutsem she, she claims she gets really really pretty. It’s amazing. Yeah, I’m
looking at your Instagram right now. It’s just Bay underscore farms. I mean, the color there the carrots, the brussel sprouts. The beets, radishes, everything. I mean, it looks so good. And even. Are these purple brussel sprouts. You guys grow? Are those cooked?
Jeff:
20:55
Yeah, we do a little bit of both. Yeah, purple color. It’s a big thing. We do horrible. radishes we do. So we do some ninja radishes we do purple. We’ll have purple cauliflower, baby cauliflower, and certain times of the year. It’s It’s It’s definitely an interesting color. We have a new baby Brussels it’s a very popular item. We’ll go to shows and that’s I get your purple baby brussels sprouts people like didn’t know those existed.
Trevor Williams
21:20
Yeah, it’s like, it’s like something different. They’re like, Hey, I didn’t know this was a thing, kind of like the purple carrot towel. And I had no clue. But apparently, carrots were originally purple. And then they were just turned orange over time. That’s awesome. So you guys, also you’re doing something which is great. And I’ve struggled at doing it. But it’s your crop top your crop talk newsletter. So what’s the idea behind that and just kind of updating people on what you guys are doing?
Jeff:
21:45
Yeah, again, it comes from the marketing side. And it’s it’s kind of a little more old school. It’s a newsletter. It’s paper, or it’s electronic. We do both. But mostly nowadays, it’s electronic. But it originally started as a paper thing that we would send out to our customers. It’s either it moves between monthly and bimonthly. That we send out to our customers and contacts if features what’s in season, what’s the best, you know, most fresh in season? Because there is some there’s definitely some seasonality to what we do. We try to have everything year round. But there’s times a year there’s easier and better and more prevalent recipes, all the latest events and happenings and made farms. It’s really just a way to get in front of our customers and have them say, Hey, we’re still here. This is what we’re doing. This is what we’re looking at. And we get a lot of attention that way. Chefs like it, they, they they actually will look tag us and come back and they’ll say Look what I did with Maine farms, carrots, and we love that we just just a big circle kind of spins it up.
Trevor Williams
22:45
Yeah, that’s so cool. I love hearing about the relationship between chefs and farmers. Because I think, I mean right now with like Food Network and stuff like that. I mean, we treat chefs like celebrities, and rightly so I mean, they’re hardworking, very creative people. But I feel like lately, more and more people have started to pay attention to farmers and kind of learning where their food comes from. And I think a lot of chefs are kind of helping that too. And so I mean, do you think that’s a super important relationship? I mean, obviously, between the farmer and the consumer, but also between the farmer and the chef, do you think that’s kind of also a very powerful relationship?
Jeff:
23:19
I do. I do. And we, in particular, have really good relationships with lots of chefs, because of the type of products that we grow and promote. Before there was a cooking show, who would have thought that you could actually get people to watch people cook food on TV, you know, 15 years ago. And now it’s like, so popular. And I think what has helped us is people will want like, I’ve seen some of the shows where they have this surprise thing, and it was romanesco I’ll pick romanesco I’m not sure if I’m familiar, but it’s in a cauliflower family. It looks almost like a pine cone. It has this point to it. And it’s a brassica. It looks very much it’s very much part of the brassica family tastes a little bit like cauliflower has a nutty taste to it. Anyways, they would just drop this in the middle of this, this competition on TV. And all of these pieces. Most the chef’s knew what it was, some didn’t. But nobody watching the show knew what it was like, What is that? And it affects our call and or we’ll get it we’ll get a surge. And it’s because hey, they saw TV, they know it can be done. I want to do that. And there’s more and more people. Let’s face it, that are cooking gourmet vegetables or any kind of meals, just because there’s so much of it out there. There’s so much media out there. And that and the fact that if you go to a white tablecloth restaurant in Vegas or a big city, and you sit there and you have this meal that is like Wow. I it just reminds people that hey, I want I want to have this more often. So there’s more and more people and really could home chefs that are home cooking, that have learned it seen it and they want to do it too.
Trevor Williams
24:57
It’s pretty cool. Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, you get things like Food Network. Coming in, of course, YouTube is another big one where I mean, anytime I want to learn to make a dish, I’ll just go on YouTube and just Google it. I mean, it’s it’s pretty handy. So yeah, you’re right. I mean, it goes for everything. Oh, yeah. Are y’all? Is there any certain type of chef or restaurant y’all are looking to kind of work with? Or is it really just anybody interested in getting some fresh grape produce from you all?
Jeff:
25:21
Yeah, we we, we have no qualms about working with anybody that wants to work with us. And if you’re looking for a high quality, you know, high end, very good, colorful produce, then you need to be talking to us because I think what I will never forget this, I was at a show and somebody walked up to me. And we we do we used to do four or five, we do four or five, six shows a year. And we’ll be sitting there and somebody walked up and said, Hey, babe barks. You guys are like the Coca Cola of baby bitch. I’m like I’m gonna use because who doesn’t know what Coca Cola is? Right? So we want to be well known. And that’s kind of who we we’ve been doing this since 1986. And I don’t think anybody does as large array of specially vege as a farm. So we hope to be the forefront for a long time. Yeah, that’s
Trevor Williams
26:10
kind of a compliment the Coca Cola specialty vegetables. I mean, that’s, that’s hard to beat. So you said earlier, y’all grow corabi? Right. So I grew that when I was teaching Ag and I haven’t taught or haven’t grown it since. So what’s, what’s a good way to cook that like, I don’t think I’ve actually had it besides just taking a bite out of it raw. I feel like most people don’t know what it is. So what’s a good way to cook and prepare it?
Jeff:
26:36
So it’s very, it’s pretty diverse. And it’s pretty popular. It’s one of the few products that during the pandemic actually grew in volume, it really, really pushed like it was one of the one of the few that really increased, and I think it was because it’s such a hardware item, you can store it, you can keep in your fridge, it’ll last for weeks. It has the texture of either broccoli, like a broccoli stem. And if you’ve grown it you know what we’re talking about. I’ve seen I’ve seen it in salads, after you peel the outer skin off the outer skin kind of has this more of a tougher feel. But the interior is has that broccoli stem texture or a coma as a almost if you’re familiar with income, it almost says the texture of hair come up. But the flavor of almost like broccoli, I’ve seen it in soups. It’s very popular in the Asian community with that so it’s it’s it’s pretty diverse special for sure.
Trevor Williams
27:35
Yeah, I don’t think I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it at a restaurant but I know a bunch of people that cook by and a lot of people that swear by it so I don’t know if our local Publix has it but I’m going to have to stock up on some corabi and trying to cook it
Jeff:
27:48
because everybody knows what it is and if you’ve never seen it he kind of grows he Have you seen if you grow it grows up on top the ground you know the roots in the ground and has this wall on top of the ground and then these leaves coming out of the sides of it it just it’s an entry. It’s got the same texture like I said and that waxy feel of broccoli leaves, but it’s and it is a brassica but it’s it’s got a different look for sure it looks it has its own distinct look for sure.
Trevor Williams
28:11
Yeah, if you don’t know what it is, you’re gonna think it’s like some kind of like alien vegetable. You’re like, What in the world is this?
Jeff:
28:16
Yeah. Yeah, it’s amazing. I was at I watched with my kids are watching the Star Wars. I can’t remember which which one it was. But at one point, they showed this table full of vegetables. And they were trying to find things that just didn’t look normal. Nobody would recognize. And romanesco and kohlrabi were on it on that table because I stopped it and I said kids rewind. And I looked at it was a still shot up the table. I’m like, that’s romanesco and that is kohlrabi and it’s stuff that you would never see. On a normal table. It was interesting.
Trevor Williams
28:48
No way. I’m I’m a big Star Wars fan. So I’m gonna have to go look for that. That’s pretty nice. I
Jeff:
28:53
can’t remember. Which, which, which episode, but I swear I stopped it. And I told the kids and they both laughed.
Trevor Williams
29:02
That’s awesome. That’s so cool. I mean, you never know what the ag industry is gonna impact and now it’s even Star Wars. That’s cool. Yep. So you’ve built relationships with with, with restaurant owners with consumers and stuff like that. You’ve been going through the pandemic, what would you say has kind of been the biggest win with your time here at babe farms?
biggest win? Yeah.
Jeff:
29:26
You know, I like I said, I was born and raised in this business. I went to Cal Poly graduated in 94. And like I said, it was a family business started in 86. And I really worked there throughout the years. My biggest win is really the the camaraderie and the continued. Just loyalty from an employee base. No matter we’ve been through some tough times everybody goes through tough times pandemic was one of those, but the fact that everybody wants to hunker down employees wise and support you because we were All of us together. Obviously, everybody employed here can go find a job somewhere else. But and when it’s all said and done, I’m the one that’s going to be left left holding the bag. But nobody has ever felt and given me the impression that they’re uncomfortable, they’re going to let let us down. It’s all about this is a team effort. And I have, like I said, some people that have been here for years and years and years, and they live and bleed and breathe like it’s their own. And I, I totally appreciate that. And I could never express my gratitude enough of how much people care about it, like it’s theirs. And that’s what I think makes us who we are. We had an interview, and did a small thing. And we have a woman that works on my wash line. She’s been with me for I think, 30 or 35 years. Really nice lady, broken English, mostly Spanish. And we let her speak about what she liked about vape farms and, and her the pride that she takes in every box of leaves that wash line before it gets on a pallet comes to our cooler. It just almost cracked me. I mean, it just really affected me because she talked about it, like she cared about every box. And that’s the way that’s the way I want it. And that’s the way it really is around here. So it really I appreciate that. I’m proud of that. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Trevor Williams
31:19
That’s good to hear. I feel like that kind of buy in is really difficult nowadays. And so that’s good. That’s kind of like a I mean, everybody at bay farms is kind of on the same page. They’ve all got that passion for what you’re doing. So that’s really good to hear. I’m excited to hear that.
Jeff:
31:32
Yep, that’s really good. It’s a it’s a good feeling for sure.
Trevor Williams
31:35
I bet. So last question. What do you think about the farmer consumer relationship? I think it’s gotten a lot better over the last couple years, I think more and more people, like we’ve said, like, even during COVID have wanted to figure out more about where their food comes from, and stuff like that, like people have been going to farmers markets trying to buy more direct. And so what do you think about that relationship? Is it getting better? Is it getting worse? Does it need some work? What do you think?
Jeff:
32:00
I think it’s, I think it’s a never ending conversation or an opportunity to educate consumers. I’m involved in a few organizations. And, and we farmers are not very good about telling their story. And we believe we have been in the past, we’re trying to be better at that. We are trying to be proactive. If you’re always in defense mode, defending yourself from every organization that wants to, you know, put you down or say that you’re not doing it right, you’re wasting water, you’re spraying too many pesticides. They’re always something out there trying to knock you down. But what farmers have to do a better job of is being proactive and telling their story. I’m I’m on a board of an association that is using that very platform with social media just to get out there and connect consumers, to the farmer, and really people to people, because that’s where the connection is. Not everybody understands how farming works, and all the stuff that goes in and all the hands that really bring it to, to the grocery store. But if if they understood how much blood sweat and tears and passion like I was describing goes into those boxes, they wouldn’t maybe not be so critical of it or are quick to judge. I think one of the biggest misconceptions of the consumer is just how the there’s a lot of marketing that goes into ag. And not all farmers are good marketers. But for instance, I’ll use organic, I think organic is a well marketed term. There’s nothing wrong with organic. But there’s really nothing wrong with conventional either in the world we live in conventional and organic farming is very safe, it’s very healthy, we wouldn’t be able to do it in the world we live in if it wasn’t, but when people step on something to make the other one look better. I have a problem with that. I grow both I talk I do not put down either one. I think they both have their place. You know, organic has slower and lower yields. It drives prices up. But there are certain people that want that and need it and it’s marketed well, is organic, any safer than conventional. Now, I think they’re both very safe. And I think they’re both very good opportunities. I don’t know that the world can be fed organically. But I definitely think there’s a place in this world for both of them has to be.
Trevor Williams
34:22
Yeah, that’s something that I honestly had no clue about. I thought that I mean, most farms were either organic or conventional. But as I’ve done this podcast, most people that are growing organic, it’s only a small fraction of their farm like they’re like you guys there. They have 1000 acres, but only 200 that is organic. And so I mean, what was kind of inspiration but behind kind of growing a small section of organic produce.
Jeff:
34:43
Really, it’s customer demand. I mean organics, like I said, well marketed and there’s people that want that we like there’s certain items that we only do organically, organic spinach, organic kale, organic fennel. I do fennel, conventionally and organically. I do certain things both ways. But there’s your Things I only do organically. The problem with organics and when the wind when winter gets weak because California actually does have a winter, not a not a real abrasive winter. But when things get days get shorter and weather gets colder. fertilizers do not react, they didn’t begin in a cold soil. And it’s just it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like what you do after you harvest something you put in your fridge and slow it down, because it’s trying to decay, you need heat, and you need all those things in the soil to make things work. So you can’t we can’t farm organically year round, and we can’t farm everything we do organically completely and solely. So we do both because we have to be consistent because the consumer needs wants to be consistently supplied.
Trevor Williams
35:41
Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s one thing. That’s a huge struggle that I’ve also heard a lot about, I mean, consumers are wanting great produce 20 473 65. But of course, you can grow all that produce 20 473 65. I mean, even in states like California and Florida, where you can grow it for a decent amount of the year, you’ve also got some periods where you can’t so it’s an ongoing struggle, I can assume.
Jeff:
36:02
I agree. Yep. It is in and we do a pretty good job of it. But, but there’s always hurdles in front of us for sure. But But yeah, I think that that relationship back to your question, the relationship between consumers and farmers is only getting better. We also participate in a farm day. Santa Barbara County Farm day, we started it a couple of years ago. And we’re big, big participants of it. And it we it’s a way for the general public, no connection to ag to come out, see what we do, how we do it, look at the equipment we do. Because there’s so many food safety hurdles, and food security, and things that we have to abide by that you can’t just have the general public out there walking through your fields any day. But if you plan for it, you bring them in, we give them free vegetables, we let them ask questions. And it’s happening this September. And it happens every year, once on a Saturday for four to six hours. And then they go around to all the different farms. There’s like 15 Farms in our area that are all participating. It’s just a way for the public to get around and see. transplanting is one part of Ag us especially grower than the go down and see a strawberry grower and realize that every strawberry has to be hand picked. And they go wow. They don’t actually think about that until you see it. Pretty impressive.
Trevor Williams
37:18
Oh, I bet So yeah, I mean, that’s so cool to hear what what’s the response been like from those days where they actually come out, and they can actually see how their foods grown? how its pig, how its harvest. So what’s the response been like?
Jeff:
37:28
They love it. They love it. They bring their kids. We get people last year we had I think two years ago, before the pandemic, we had 300 visitors. And we were one of the more just because of the same thing, like we were talking about with the social media were more colorful stop. So they’re like obey farms or the Oh, we were out there more in social media. So they kind of know who we are even locally, they’ll know who we are. So let’s go there. And then the fact that we’re giving away free vegetables, they’re like, yeah, that’s a given we’ll come by. So it’s just it’s kind of like a farmers market without having to pay for on that Saturday. And then we can show them kohlrabi. They may not get that in their local grocery store and say, Hey, this is what it is. This is how you cook it. It’s pretty cool. Yeah, that’s
awesome. I love farm days and stuff like that. I think they’re super cool. I mean, they’re great. Not only a great, I mean outing for your family, but it’s also a great educational tool. I mean, people can literally see and learn straight from the farmer instead of Google and kind of ask any questions they might have.
Jeff:
38:22
No, I agree. And then and then as you and I know, anything you Google had, not to bring politics into anything, but everything has a spin. But if you talk to the grower, he’s a real guy. He’s just trying to make living like you are. And he tried to poison you, because he feeds his family, from every vegetable in that field is just like he’s trying to feed you. So honestly, we usually it’s very positive. I’ve never really had a bad experience talking to the public at those events. But if somebody is critical or questionable, they usually turn around pretty quickly when they realize that we’re just real people just trying to do the right thing. Yeah,
Trevor Williams
39:00
like you said earlier, I mean, that person, the person communication is really key where you’re not trying to be I mean, you’re just being honest and open with them, I think is huge. And yeah, I think that’s awesome. I agree. I agree. That’s so cool. Jeff. Well, I think this has been awesome. If people want to learn more about babe farms, you guys are active on Instagram, your website, where else can they go to kind of see what you guys are doing?
Jeff:
39:24
Yeah, that’s social, all social media appropriate, or platforms that you’re discussing Instagram, we know Facebook, where we have a website, they pay for specialist Comm. It’s it’s, it’s if you ever have a question, or you want to see who we are, that’s that’s how you can see us. But that’s probably the best way and then you get the visual. It’s amazing what you can see. Just by searching things for sure. Yeah,
 
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Ep 120: Aerofarms – Vertical Farming, Elevated Flavor

Vertical farming is a super interesting subject within Ag. I really do think it’s going to be the future of agriculture in cities across the world, especially in larger metropolitan areas. If you live around New York City, you might be familiar with our guest today is Tim O’Brien from Aerofarms. Aerofarms grows high-quality greens using vertical farming technology. Tim and I chat about the start of Aerofarms, the process of opening new operations, and how they are working with a few companies on growing cacao using this technology.

Check them out at the links below:

AeroFarms Website

Florida Cattle Ranchers on Facebook

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Show Notes

  • Start of AeroFarms
  • How does this technology work?
  • Plans for new Vertical Farm –
  • Can this help reduce carbon emissions from food transport?
  • What sets AeroFarms apart from other indoor farming systems?
  • What foods can this work for and what foods can it be applied for in the future?
  • Could tech like this work in space or other planets?
  • What does the future look like for AeroFarms?
  • What has been the biggest struggle growing the company?

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Transcript

There might be a few typos, but you’ll get the gist!  

Trevor:

Hello, and welcome to the farm traveler podcast. I’m your host Trevor Williams. Hope you’re doing great city pub and I have had the house to ourselves this past week, Allie and her mom and her sister Molly. They have actually been on a once in a lifetime trip to Greece. You know, the beautiful country of Greece. They’ve been to Athens, they’ve been to San Tareen. They’ve been having a ton of fun. And while they’ve been doing that Satie and I have been at the house, chillin, I’ve taken her to pet smart gotten her a bunch of treats been to Home Depot at least 12 times. And I’ve been catching up on some video games and movies, which I mean, you know, what you do? It’s been great. Um, so yeah, I I’m excited for today’s episode is with another vertical farming company. This one is called arrow farms. And they are around the New York area. So we’re chatting with Tim O’Brien from arrow farms. And we’re going to talk about how arrow farms is different, what their vertical farming looks like. And really how this new technology can help reduce carbon emissions. What sets us apart from other indoor farming systems in Canada, the future, they’re actually I believe Tim said that they’re going public, in terms of like, you know, investing very soon. And I think they’re also opening up another location. And I think I thought this was awesome. This was just such a cool timing. Because, you know, we went to LA aloha a few weeks ago. And we did that whole tour, which you know, if you haven’t already, go to YouTube and check out our farm tour, I’ll link that in the description, where we toured cacau and full circle aerofarms is actually working on how to grow cacau plants in a vertical farming environment. And so I think that’s super cool. nobody’s really done it before. And so they’re kind of at the forefront of that. So you never know, maybe in a few years, we can go towards a vertical farm that is growing cow aka chocolate, which I think is phenomenal. So yeah, this is a great interview with Tim we chat a lot about the future of agriculture, the future of vertical farming and stuff like this. I really think that this stuff is going to be the future I mean, if you’re in a larger area, like in New York or like a Philadelphia this would be a great way you can provide fresh local produce in terms of green greens and all that good stuff and actually if you’re listening and you’re from New York maybe you’re in Philadelphia wherever you can actually find their produce at Amazon Fresh which I did I didn’t know that was a thing. Also Whole Foods Walmart and a couple others like a shop right and stuff like that. And they’ve got a bunch of really cool greens you can buy like super mix some looking at their stuff right now they’ve got a spicy mix of microgreens which sounds delicious you know, they’ve got kale, or rainbow mixed or watercress and all that good stuff. If you want to check them out. Go to arrow farms calm that’s just arrow A e r o farms calm. So yeah, I hope you enjoy this episode. This was a blast talking with Tim and learning more and more about another fascinating vertical farm business. But arrow farms as Tim is going to explain is a little bit different. So hope you enjoyed it. And thanks so much for listening. All right, well, Tim Brian from aerofarms. How are you doing?

Tim:

I’m doing well. Thanks, Trevor, how about you doing? Well,

Trevor:

I am super excited to chat with you, as I was telling you just a minute ago, I’m a big fan of hydroponics and the whole future of urban ag. And so aerofarms does that. And so I’m super excited to chat with you about it. But before we dive in to aerofarms, kind of tell us a little bit about yourself kind of a background and how you got started with arrow. Sure,

Tim:

So I I’m a New Jersey native born and raised in New Jersey, very proud of the Garden State and like the family farms in my area where I grew up along the Delaware River in the Delaware River Valley. Several of those family farms face similar situations, and one in particular, faced the notion that their children did not the next generation did not want to take on the farm. And so a lot of those family farms that face that same consequence, ended up selling to developers and kind of suffered the urban sprawl. But one family farmer, my community, the Snyder family, they had the foresight to take their farm and bequeath it to Rutgers University, which in New Jersey is our land grant university where the Agricultural College Cooke colleges, and they bequeath it to them, and they created it into a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Center, which still is in existence today. This was back in 1987, that this event happened. But I say all that Trevor because I am part of a whole group of people, youngsters at the time that got high school summer jobs, college summer jobs, working at the Snyder Research and Extension Farm in pittstown, New Jersey, and did not come from an agricultural background. But after experiencing that facility and working there, particularly for me, I worked there for six summers in a row between high school and my undergraduate in college, it absolutely sparked an interest in sustainable food production, alternative ways to produce food. And it charted me on a course to get a bachelor’s degree in plant Soil Sciences from the University of Delaware. And where I currently live here in the Pacific Northwest, I came out in 1995 to get my master’s degree in sustainable ag from Oregon State University. And what I thought was going to be two years out here in the northwest before it came back to New Jersey turned into 25 years later, and a whole story that career. So for me and aerofarms This is a bit of a coming home. scenario for me coming back to New Jersey, working with aerofarms to work in this very interesting and innovative area of Ag biotech these days.

Trevor:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I think most people outside of Ag have no clue that technology like this is I mean, not only out there, but also it’s super popular. And I know over the past like decade or so it’s gotten even more popular. Like there’s companies like you guys aerofarms we had another company from Wyoming called vertical farms on and so it seems like indoor hydroponics and growing produce this way is really catching on. So going off of that kind of tell us if you can a little bit about kind of the background of aerofarms and how you guys started?

Tim:

Yeah, aerofarms is a fascinating business because its its original founder, a gentleman named Dr. Ed Harwood, who was a longtime professor at Cornell University in Ithaca. Unfortunately, Ed did pass away, just recently, and so we all at aerofarms are still grieving his loss and he’s left a void in the in our in our company, but we’re at a very exciting inflection point four in the history of the company. And we know that ed is watching down with that beaming smile of his as he’s finally seeing the the fruits of his labor from all those years ago but at Harwood started our company in his garage literally, and which is the classic American invention story, right. And he was building tabletop versions of his indoor vertical farm chamber to where it got large, large enough to where he took over his entire dining room and he turned that into a grow room if you will, of his endurable farm and he was trying to scale from there and he was you know, having different people build them in their back sheds and whatnot and And long story short Trevor he he finally went out and said I’m gonna go raise some money and kind of try and make a go of this with this business and in the great story that I’d used to tell was that the the original investors would, would ask him Well, well, who’s your chief grower He would raise his hand say I am and they’d say, well, who’s your chief financial officer and he raised his hand say Aye. And, you know, for every every task, he was raising his hand, and they all realized real quick, like, oh, boy, we got to get a team in and around and, and scale this thing. And so that’s, you know, entered David Rosenberg and Mark Oshima, who are carrying the torch forward in Ed’s absence here as we move forward. But they were in a different kind of early stage, indoor vertical farm business. And they met up with Ed saw the story saw the opportunity, and as they say, the rest is history. And they’ve been carrying the torch forward. And aerofarms has been around since 2004, as a more formal company. But it’s been tinkering that for for many years beyond that.

Trevor:

Okay, that’s pretty cool. So now assume that I don’t know how hydroponics and this technology work. I know there’s some people listening that might not know. So how exactly would you explain that to somebody that doesn’t really know how this process works?

Unknown Speaker 11:07

Yeah, so indoor vertical farming is a is a discipline within what’s known in our industry is controlled environment AG, controlled environment, agriculture. And so indoor vertical farming is essentially, fully controlled environments. So we’re not limited by the sunlight, we’re not limited by seasons are not limited by soils from that standpoint. And so we fully control all aspects of the growth of our plants, we have indoor lighting, we have a nutrient solution that we either use in a bath for the roots of the plants, or we can mist the roots of the plants in an aeroponic method, where we’re just spraying a very fine mist on the roots and keeping them moist all the time. So they, they think they’re in a perfectly moist soil bed. We we control all of the lighting, spectrum intensity photo periods, so we can design and tailor a lighting regime that the plant actually needs to be perfect. And contrary to popular belief, the sunlight that that grows our plants outside, there’s a lot of wasted spectra, there’s a lot of wasted energy there for horticultural agricultural crops. As a rule, you know, we can then prescribe our light regime to maximize photosynthesis and sugar production to produce whatever fruit or or tuber we’re trying to create from a horticultural value perspective. And so it’s a very detail oriented, prescriptive level of farming that is perfectly suited for areas that may not be suitable in the outdoor environment to grow certain types of crops. And it helps reduce the logistics or transportation associated with getting fresh, nutritious produce to large urban areas very quickly. And a great example of that is our flagship farm in New York, New Jersey, which sits right outside of New York City and is in this in literally in the center of the downtown of Newark, New Jersey. And we can produce just absolutely nutritionally packed leafy greens for the communities there, and they can be eating them within 24 to 48 hours of those being harvested in our facility and that’s that’s a powerful nutritional access story. That’s an apparent a very powerful horticultural kind of problem solution story around logistics, and shipping. There’s a powerful climate change and environment story to be told about the way that we can scale and grow indoors and maximize the productivity of the space we’re in.

Tim:

So what Yeah, what kind of space are you in? Because I’m learning that more and more people that start these hydroponic companies are usually in like old abandoned warehouses or like an old like shopping market or something. So what kind of warehouse Are y’all in?

Trevor:

So the best This is great. And our our one of our warehouses is actually an old paint ball gaming facility. This is cool. Okay, yeah, and so we’ve actually left some of the graphics on the wall, everything is a little homage to the the paintball facility. And, and the other is a an abandoned steel factory building that was there. And so, you know, we’re right in the iron bound district of of Newark. And so those two facilities produce our commercial leafy greens as well as produce our r&d based material that we use for for developing new concepts and products. So what kind of products are Making? I mean, I’ve heard that when it comes to hydroponics, I think I heard this from somewhere where they’re doing it kind of in space they’re doing, they’re doing like very small hydroponic systems on the ISS. And they’re saying that it’s really helpful when you do something that has a large edible biomass. So things like leafy greens and stuff like that. And so what exactly are y’all growing?

Tim:

there’s some very specific requirements of, of products. And there’s horticultural and economic requirements for for this. But there’s the one of the main drivers of the success of a product in inverse indoor vertical farms is light use efficiency. And so we really, we have a very rigorous and to be honest, a proprietary screening process that we evaluate various different crops, and we run them through a protocol and an algorithm to determine which ones are going to be successful. But what we like about baby leafy greens, and, and some herbs, is their ability to grow quickly, to be suited for automated automated harvest. We’d like their value in the marketplace and where we can be competitive at at the grocery store shelf. So we compete against field farmers for that same shelf space on those retail store shelves. And so we factor all that in to tailor our exact product mix. In each of our different farms that we have, we just announced our new farm commercial farm that’s going to be built in Danville, Virginia, right on the North Carolina, Virginia line. And we also just announced a farm being built in the St. Louis area in conjunction with the Henry Danforth center, as well as the World Wildlife Federation.

Trevor:

Okay, yeah. And that’s going to be a whole brand new kind of community you guys are going to impact with, with hydroponics with this vertical farm. So are you guys, what kind of like educational tools have y’all done, where you’re trying to tell people like, Hey, this is how vertical farming works. This is what it can do. buy our products, here’s how they’re helping the environment. So what all are y’all doing there on the education side? Yeah, so

Tim:

we’ve got a couple of different kind of what I would say, prongs to that fork, so to speak, one of which is, in our earlier days, we actually fulfilled Ed’s vision of building some, what I would call tabletop or, or modular grow systems that utilize our technology. And we worked with in the city of Newark, with one of the Newark charter schools, and we put it in the school to learn about urban ag with the students and teach them about that. And they were they would then eat those leafy greens as part of their salads at lunch. And that was just an awesome 360 connection for them on a variety of levels. For that, we are working on a variety of pilot programs with various land grant universities, to help them shape curricula around indoor vertical farming so that as the next generation of the labor force comes through the ag sciences programs, they are training them to have the latest and greatest skill sets that are gonna be needed by this industry as it matures. And then the ultimate thing is our flagship r&d facility where it’s a research and development facility, it provides verification of our different technologies. And we’ve expanded that and announced the world’s largest r&d based indoor vertical farm, which is we broke ground on this summer in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in conjunction with the United Arab Emirates University, and other industry partners there. And so we are really committed to education, r&d for this industry as it matures over time.

Trevor:

That’s so cool. I mean, I feel like as I mean, this industry has been around for a little bit, but there’s still so much r&d and kind of growth, because I know even just a few years ago, when really LED lights kind of became super popular, because you used to have to use these really expensive bulbs. I remember when I was teaching we had a greenhouse with a smaller hydroponic system, and the light bulb goes out and so to buy a new one was like $300, but now you can get an LED light system for that’s huge and outputs, the exact light spectrums that the plant needs, and it’s a lot cheaper. So I feel like that’s one a revolution that’s kind of happened. There’s no telling what’s going to happen next. Right. Absolutely. I

Tim:

think and that’s one of the reasons why it’s an exciting time to be in this industry, because it’s it is in its infancy, but it’s it’s maturing very rapidly. And I think that the opportunities in this industry From like what you said, with lighting efficiency, development, fertility regimes in these systems, there’s a whole world of genetics out there yet to be optimized and developed for CEA based or indoor vertical farm cropping systems. So it really, really is a ground level kind of getting in on the ground level opportunity in a variety of facets of this, this section of the industry.

Trevor:

So I know that one of the huge selling points about this technology is that if you’re in a large urban area, you can produce food locally, like you’re not having to bring in transport it from across the country or anywhere. So do you see this as kind of like kind of an answer to helping reduce our carbon emissions?

Tim:

Absolutely. And I think it also is going to help enhance the nutritional quality of our food, because you remember, for example, in strawberry, you know, a lot of times there have to be sacrifices made at the breeding level, because they need to be able to transport that strawberry across the country, or in some cases across the world. And so they need to breed for certain traits that tend to allow it to be stored longer, and transportability, lack of bruising and things. And so while they may be able to select for that, they may end up losing some of the flavor and nutritional aspects of it. But they have to kind of, you know, go for the best of both worlds. In our particular case, we represent an opportunity to reduce the amount of logistics required to get this product to the end consumer, we can scale vertically, so an acre farm of footprint can be up to 390 times more productive than an acre of field ground, then our system, and so you think about the the you know, and we don’t have the pest pressures, environmental pressures that come with that. So the the lack of pesticides that we you know, we don’t have to use the prescriptive levels of fertility that we can use. So there isn’t waste because we measure both what’s going in and we measure, because we’re aeroponic and hydroponic based, we can measure what’s coming out of the drain, and we can dial back or dial up nutrients based on what the plant is and isn’t using, feel farmers can’t do that. They don’t see that it just all runs offered, moves through the soil profile into the water system. And so there is an incredibly powerful environmental story to be told here. When you compare this to field agriculture.

Trevor:

Yeah, and also, I mean, with the systems you can grow year round, I mean, you don’t have to wait on the season, the right time of year to plan or anything, because it’s indoor, and it’s an indoor environment, you can grow basically, whatever you’re out.

Tim:

Yeah, I love that, you know, when I speak to to younger audiences. I love to just say that, you know, at aerofarms we’re not limited to the soil, the season or the sun, we can really grow 20 473 65 and it’s a whole new frontier for producing food. Yeah, I can’t wait to see what happens. Because I mean, there’s some that I know aeroponics is huge, where you know, you kind of suspend the plant and it’s like misted throughout the year. I know, that’s not really as popular because I mean, it’s a little bit more intensive, I think. But I’ve seen some companies like you guys, that will have like a little demo of that and kind of explain what that is. Like, for example, my favorite ride at Disney World is the land because they have hydroponics and aeroponics and so they have this little thing. And I want to say it’s brussel sprouts that are like they’re on this conveyor belt system where they’re moving around, and their roots are literally just hanging there. And then they go through this little door that miss them with water and nutrients. And so it’s super cool. I mean, there’s so many different ways and different systems that you have.

Trevor:

Yeah, I mean this this these indoor vertical farm systems are an agricultural engineers paradise, because there’s so many different ways that you now have available to you to work with the natural plant architecture that the growing habit and structure and form of the plant.

Tim:

And you kind of have this blank canvas to be able to design grow systems and grow chambers and towers around the ideal architecture of of the plant. For example, we are in a partnership with our good friends at Horta fruit, which is one of the largest berry growers in the world and we’re specifically focusing on indoor vertically farmed blueberry, which, as a as a New Jersey native, Trevor, the blueberry was originally domesticated out of the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey in the early 1900s. And became a main crop for not only the US and the world And here is arrow farms working with word fruit pioneering or re domesticating, blueberry for indoor vertical farms. And it’s exciting because those plants that they are using for these indoor vertical farm systems have such a unique architecture. And we’re building very interesting. Grow systems and structures to to capitalize on the canopy and the architecture of those plants.

Trevor:

Oh, that’s exciting. I didn’t know that about the blueberry. That’s pretty cool. So I know there’s a lot of different companies out there that are doing vertical farming and stuff like that. So how exactly are you guys that aerofarms different? Like, where do you guys get doing different? What kind of sets you apart from the other? vertical growing companies out there?

Tim:

Yeah, I think, you know, in a nutshell, for me, Trevor, I think it’s that we’re playing long ball. And when I say we’re playing long ball, we are very committed to our core of browned r&d associated with our cropping systems. We are in it to be the kind of industry leader in the industry stalwart in perfecting these systems, optimizing the systems, no matter which crop these that we’re working in, we have a whole portfolio of patents that we have filed around the various technologies that we’re developing. And so Ed Harwood, our founder, and his co founders, David Rosenberg, and Marcus Shima, have really set a vision for long term, sustainable presence and growth in our industry for aerofarms.

Trevor:

So I like that idea of just kind of sticking around for the long haul, instead of just really kind of going crazy and hopping on kind of the trend. I mean, that’s a good idea, you guys are kind of focusing on the long haul, where this technology is going to take you. And also, I saw some on your website about partnering with you guys about doing co production with with hydroponics, is that right?

Tim:

Yeah, so that’s a project that I’m actually involved in, as well. And so it’s new project, it’s with cargo Corp. And, you know, that particular industry is just absolutely being decimated by climate change, and the growing regions of the world, that they have their, their suppliers are really struggling with the quality of the product that’s being produced, the growth systems are being challenged now as climate and environmental patterns are changing. And so we are working with them to try and innovate in areas, particularly around nursery tree production for them to try and optimize the health and vigor of these trees before they go out into the real world and have to do do battle with all the environmental pressures that come from being out there in the natural world. And so our, you know, our theory is, is let’s innovate, and produce these superior nursery trees that can then just hit the ground running and be vigorous and healthy, because they came from, you know, this perfect environment. And, you know, we’re in the very early stages of, of an 18 month kind of benchmarking phase, that’s gonna, you know, parlay into a multi year partnership agreement. And again, that’s part of our long term vision for, for these projects and cargo realize that and we were thrilled that they wanted to partner with us over that.

Unknown Speaker 28:43

Yeah, that’s super exciting. I mean, that’s the first time I’ve heard of another crop like cacao that’s going to be grown, possibly using this technology. I mean, that’s huge. I mean, there’s no telling what’s going to be next, if it’s going to be oranges, apples, or, you know, kind of larger produce, it’s kind of more typically difficult to grow in those circumstances.

Tim:

Absolutely. And I think that, you know, this is our first foray into tree crops. And I can speak from experience in industry, you know, you know, the tree fruit folks and the citrus folks, and everybody kind of raised one eyebrow when they saw that one. Oh, okay, trees. Let’s keep an eye on that here in the coming years. And it wouldn’t shock me if if we were to, you know, in five or so years, we’re talking about more and more tree crops.

Trevor:

That’s super fascinating. Well, I can’t see I can’t wait to see how that goes. I mean, that’s going to be super neat to follow. So when it comes to this technology, and we kind of mentioned earlier, do you think things like this I know you know, Elan musk Musk is wanting to go to Mars, populate Mars, go back to the moon and stuff like that. And so as we’re slowly trying to like become a multiplanetary species. Do you think stuff like this kind of might be the answer to feeding people on different points? Whether that’s Mars, the moon or even the space station where we can use systems like hydroponics.

Tim:

Potentially, I think that we’ve got a lot of work to do here first on earth, and I think that we, we are going to be able to create a lot of learning and knowledge here that may in the future be applied up there. As you know, obviously, we are a ways away from that, but I can tell you that, you know, this, this horticulture in a box, so to speak, or farming in a box is is going to have to be a foundational element for ways to sustain, you know, human populations off the planet. So I’m sure this will be someday long before you and I or, or long after you and I are around, someone will be looked back at at an indoor vertical farming and say, yeah, that, you know, our space farms have their roots in that no pun intended.

Trevor:

Yeah, no, that’s true. That’s funny. Yeah, it’s gonna be very interesting. I mean, of course, with that, with those systems, you’ve got to have water. So you’ve obviously got to have some sort of production for water. So that’d be pretty hard to do in space stations are on Mars, or the moon or anywhere. So that’d be very interesting. So what’s the future looking like for you guys? I mean, I know you’ve got multiple projects going on, you’ve got another farm you guys are putting up in Virginia? Um, are you are you guys wanting to kind of spread throughout the country without also kind of losing the focus of playing the long term goal? So what’s the future gonna look like? Yeah,

Tim:

I think for for aerofarms, we’re going to continue to kind of expand our footprint. But most importantly, Trevor, I think that aerofarms is going to continue to build equity in the aerofarms, brand around, nutritionally packed, well, grown, healthy, great tasting food, whether that’s you eat an aerofarms, micro green, you eaten aerofarms, romaine salad mix, you eat an aerofarms, strawberry or an aerofarms blueberry in the future, we want to be associated with not only the indoor vertical farming, but the, the the nutritional quality, and the amazing flavor that comes from these these products, because of the growth system that we’re utilizing. And I think for us, success for us is going to be, you know, the best of both worlds in feeding people with just awesome tasting food, but also minimizing the environmental impact for folks. Hmm,

Trevor:

I like that. Yeah, I can’t wait to see more companies kind of jump into this whole vertical farming thing. So I mean, what’s been the biggest struggle? I mean, I know when you’re starting a company like this kind of, first off, one of the biggest struggles is going to be just steal it from cost, because this technology is really difficult. But I mean, also, I’m sure educating consumers is difficult getting investors. So what’s kind of been the biggest struggles you guys have faced? Yeah,

Tim:

I mean, for for aerofarms. Like any other, you know, early stage scaling company, it’s, it’s been resources, right, we’ve had to, you know, raise capital and use that capital wisely. You know, where we’re growing, we’re working with natural biological systems. So, you know, while we may be in a factory type building, this is not just factory farming. And so it’s not like we set a set a machine up, and it just produces less plants. I mean, there’s tremendous variability in genetics and other environmental inputs that we have there. So we have to really be on top of our game. And we have a tremendous growing staff and science staff that really work on the day to day challenges of, of these growth systems. And so there’s been a lot of horticultural optimization that’s taken place. And we’ve come tremendously far, but we we like all the other indoor vertical farm companies have a lot of room for improvement moving forward.

Trevor

That’s good to hear. So I’ve got a little hydroponic system, and I can never get it working well. And so how hard was it to kind of the biggest thing I struggle with was the nutrients either adding too much or too little and having the pH just right. So I mean, that’s a huge struggle when you’re trying to maintain 1000s and 1000s of plants. So I imagine it’s pretty important to pay attention to those levels, right.

Tim:

Absolutely. Absolutely. We have an amazing system that we’ve partnered with Dell corporation to build a data visualization module that aggregates all of our indoor farming environmental data and nutrition data, temperature, data humidity. And our science team uses that as a centralized visualization tool so that they can monitor all facets and aspects of the growth and measure that against our performance metrics of our crops so that they, on a real time basis can make adjustments to our growing systems to maximize the growth and yield of those products. Hmm.

Trevor:

Yeah, I mean, there’s so much science that goes into it. And I wish I could devote all the time in the world to just studying how, how to do it effectively. But I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. And so I haven’t cranked up one for summer or fall yet. So hopefully, sometime soon, I’m going to start small. And last year, I tried a pepper plant, it did not work out. So I’m gonna try something smaller, like a lettuce or spinach. So hopefully that’ll work or maybe some microgreens. Those are always fun the grow. So how do you feel about the farmer consumer relationship here in 2021? I feel like it’s improved. And this is something I always like to ask people in the ag world, because they always have a different perspective on it. So how do you think the farmer consumer relationship is? Well, I think,

Tim:

I mean, overall, I think that it’s a powerful relationship. I think part of part of our mission and all agricultural professionals mission is to further connect the general public to the food that they eat, we talk about that, whether it’s understanding where their protein their meat comes from, whether they understand where their vegetables and fruit come from, I think the more we can establish an emotional connection, and a consciousness by the consumer to a local farmer, I think the more value that the consumer sees in those products, and thus, they’re willing to pay more of a fair price for the product that is farmed by those farmers. And we can help the industry be much more viable and thrive better by having that consciousness be transacted through a fair price for a product that’s been grown. Because all too often, you know, the large industrial scale, conventional corporate farms, just brace to the bottom with price. And the consumers would, you know, don’t understand that. But the power of a locally grown piece of food is very powerful in the minds of creating value for the consumer and the general public. That and the word organic are two very powerful triggers, emotional triggers for for them, that they tend to be willing to pay more for something that’s locally produced and organic in its certification, because of the connotation that comes with that. So I think that that consciousness in that relationship between farmer and consumer, you know, as, as all of us in the farming community, whether we’re into vertical farmers are filled farmers, we have to continue to foster and build and maintain those relationships with the general public.

Trevor:

I like that, yeah. And I’ve always tended to think that the closer the farmer and the consumer are in terms of their relationship, I feel like the healthier the consumer will be. I mean, if you can find a farmer, and if you can just buy straight from them, you’re probably gonna buy less processed stuff, you’re gonna have a healthier food system, you’re gonna have healthier diet. And I mean, it’s a win win.

Tim:

It sure is for you know, I’ve volunteered over the years on various farmers markets boards, I’m a huge proponent of farmers markets. And I think that the more people can get that direct connection with that grower, but also they can understand that those dollars are going to then circulate much more locally in their economy. And that, that weaves a social and economic fabric that strengthens and strengthens that community. And so I’ve, I’ve always volunteered my time to, to help local farmers markets thrive. Because, you know, if you look at them on a national basis, they struggle a little bit with their authenticity, right, with real farmers, you know, selling the produce that they’ve grown versus, say, a wholesaler, or a middle person coming in and selling something that they just, you know, distributor bought. And so the more we can directly connect those constituents to those consumers with those, those farmers from their local region, it’s a very powerful, powerful model.

Trevor

I like that. Yeah, we we’ve actually got several here in Panama City, and I feel like they’ve gotten super popular especially now, during COVID. I mean, people want to buy more and I’ve heard All in South Florida doing that as well, doing more direct to consumers. And so I think one of the positives of all this COVID stuff is that that’s slowly happening. Like we’re slowly getting more out there. We’re learning more about where our food comes from. We’re taking more risks at farmer’s markets and stuff like that. So yeah, maybe it’s the future. I mean, we’ll see. We’ll see where that goes.

Ep 119: What makes Florida Beef special?

When you think of Florida, you probably think of beaches and Disney World. And honestly, you wouldn’t be wrong. But, believe it or not, Florida is actually huge in the beef industry. In fact, the largest beef cattle ranch is located here in the sunshine state! Today, to learn more about beef and its role in Florida, I chat with Gene Lollis from Florida Cattle Ranchers. Gene and I chat about the history of Florida beef and major breeds throughout the state, why land conservation and sustainability is so important in ranching (and how ranchers have been at the forefront of conservation for decades), and how the rise in direct to consumer beef products is improving the relationship between producers and consumers.

Check them out at the links below:

Florida Cattle Ranchers Website

Florida Cattle Ranchers on Instagram

Florida Cattle Ranchers on Facebook

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Gene Lollis (Law-less)
  • Florida Cattle Ranchers – Sharing the story of Florida Beef 
  • History of Beef in Florida
  • Desert Ranch – One of the largest beef cattle ranchers in the United States
  • How COVID impacted beef processing
  • How does beef play into sustainability?
  • Land conservation in Florida.
  • Misinformation in beef and it’s impact on the environment
  • The biggest struggles wit beef ranching

Be sure to follow us on social media!

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https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

Call to Action

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Ep 118: Launch of Farm Traveler Market Bundle!

Our goal with these boxes is simple:

Connecting the average consumer with high-quality, small farm products. We hope these boxes build both relationships and repeat customers to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers.

These boxes are literally connecting consumers with farmers across the country. Our first box is all about honey and features some delicious honey from: Register Family Bee Farm, Williams Honey Farm, and Rebels Roost.

If you are interested in these boxes, email us at farmtravelerseries@gmail.com or below! Once the first 10 boxes are gone, there gone, so hurry!

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Launch of Farm Traveler Market Bundle – Our take on Subscription Boxes – minus the monthly subscription.
  • First box – Honey Edition

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

A Thank You Letter to Jeremy Clarkson

If you haven’t already watched Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime, do so now.

One Christmas morning, about 15 years ago, I got my first iPod touch. It was by far the coolest piece of tech I’d ever owned up to that point. With a mean 16GB of memory, I could download hours and hours worth of movies, TV shows, games, and oh yeah, probably 4000+ songs. The first thing I did however, was open up the iTunes store and buy a few episodes of my favorite show, Top Gear.

One of the episodes I bought was when the trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May bought 3 inexpensive cars and turned them into police pursuit vehicles. Jeremy’s car had iron spikes welded to the rims while Richards had a tire spike strip mounted to the front. As usual, the episode was filled with hilarious calamity and complaining at how slow James May was driving.

Top Gear was a large part of my childhood. Here in the U.S., the show only aired on BBC America. So when it was on, you can bet I was glued to the TV. My friend Max and I would always send clips to each other of some of the exotic sports cars they’d have on the show or even the famous episode where they shot cars from a car cannon…seriously, that was a thing. My dad would even get some laughs out of the show as the trio would race around the country side while towing campers. Probably the coolest parts of the show were the grand adventures across countless countries. Driving across Africa, or though the Alps, or even here in the U.S., Jeremy, Richard, James, and their film crews always did an amazing job documenting the beautiful landscape of every country they visited.

Fast-forward a few years and now the trio is on the Grand Tour on Amazon. The same crazy adventures and multi-million dollar super cars can be found, just this time on a more convenient platform.

A little over a year ago, something cool broke out on my news feed, “Jeremy Clarkson Starts Filming Farming Show for Amazon Prime.” Just the thought of Clarkson working on a farm sparked my interested. While Jeremy is sometimes a bit brash and crazy, his entertaining skills are second to none. If anyone could do a farming show, it would be him. After the announcement, we didn’t really hear a whole lot about the show for quite some time. Almost a year after news broke, a trailer dropped. And boy did it look pretty darn cool. The trailer was followed by waiting and more waiting.

Until finally the series was released. And let me tell you…it did not disappoint.

Clarkson’s Farm is one of, if not THE, greatest series I have ever watched. Full stop.

I’ve been around farming and agriculture for a large portion of my life. It’s an industry that doesn’t get a whole lot of respect. We treat celebrity chefs with the utmost respect, but have no clue who our closest farmer is. Most people don’t know how much hard work goes into farming.

But now, thanks to Jeremy Clarkson, they do.

During the course of the series, we see Jeremy learn how to plow, how to care for sheep, how to harvest a crop, and even how to open his very own farm shop. His honesty throughout the series is both hilarious and inspiring. He starts out by not knowing how to plow a field and by the end he’s a natural. And of course, Jeremy’s typical over-the-top self shows up as he buys a monstrous Lamborghini tractor.

Jeremy doesn’t sugar coat anything during the series. He showcases the struggles of farming. Struggles like months on end of rain that all but ruins a crop, or the loss of sheep, or even the struggles of farming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I know this might sound cheesy, but while I watched this show I was so close to tearing up at a few scenes. As the music swells during several scenes while Clarkson and the gang are harvesting, I was so thrilled that farming is FINALLY getting the attention it deserves. It is FINALLY getting a series professionally and artistically curated to show what REAL life is like on a farm. It’s hard. It’s a 24/7 job. It’s back breaking. It’s essential.

But it’s also beautiful. It’s rewarding. And it’s worth every bit of heartache. Now Clarkson is most likely a millionaire several times over. So it’s not like he needed this operation to be a success. He had the resources needed to invest in equipment, personnel, etc. So while it was extremely difficult for him, imagine how difficult it might be for someone without his financial background. Someone whose livelihood is almost completely dependent on how well mother nature might cooperate that year. This is the real struggle of hundreds of thousands of farmers across the world.

So, to Jeremy Clarkson and everyone involved in the production of Clarkson’s Farm, I want to say this:

Thank You. Thank you for showing millions of people what life is a farmer is like. Thank you for being honest and entertaining in your approach to this often overlooked industry. The artistry and production of this series was astounding and unlike anything I have ever seen. I’ve heard farmers, ranchers, and people outside of agriculture say nothing but positive things about this show. Clarkson undertook an enormous challenge for his first year of farming. While many obstacles where thrown in his way, and even if he only profited $144, he succeed. Jeremy succeeded in telling his story and sharing how difficult and yet how rewarding farming is. And to Jeremy, thank you for your sincerity during your first farming season. We could tell you felt overwhelmed, but you didn’t give up and you hammered right through some of the biggest challenges anyone could imagine on a farm. Also, it was great to see the MFB again.

Thank you for this series. It’s everything I hoped it would be and so much more.

It’s clear how successful this show has been since it’s release. It’s been one of Amazon’s biggest original shows, ever! After only about four weeks out, it already has an order for a second season. So even more is in store to see Jeremy and the gang take on farming for a second year.

If you haven’t already seen the series, go and watch it. You will not regret it. It hits all the right notes. You’ll laugh (a lot), you’ll learn a thing or two about farming, and you might even tear up a bit.

In the meantime, I guess it’s back to reruns of The Office.

– T

Ep 117:Ag Aviation Adventures – Tyson and Cally

This is a re-air of my interview with Tyson and Cally.

Tyson and Cally are the two adventurous people behind Ag Aviation Adventures.  Through social media outlets like YouTube and Instagram, Tyson and Cally document the behind the scenes workings of crop dusting, their daily schedule, and also educate consumers on how spraying effects crops.  Their videos are super informative and take viewers inside the cockpit with Tyson as he talks about various agriculture topics during his spraying route.  This is a great conversation with Tyson and Cally and I highly suggest you check out their YouTube and other content.

YouTube

Instagram

Adventure Rig on YouTube

Adventure Rig on Instagram

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Start of Ag Aviation Adventures
  • Daily life and schedule of crop dusting
  • Offseason life
  • Fighting misinformation
  • How much pesticides is used on crops
  • Spraying GMO and organic crops
  • How Cally runs the ground operation
  • What makes crop duster planes so special
  • Fish guts for organic crops?

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 116: Water Quality Month

Listen to Cacee and I’s first interview here!

This month is National Water Quality Month with Farm Bureau. The program is designed to showcase the important steps farmers and ranchers are taking at both saving water and improving water quality. Here in Florida, Cacee Hilliard with Florida Farm Bureau’s This Farm CARES program will be highlighting farmers throughout the state that are doing their part in environmental conservation. In today’s interview, Cacee tells us about some Florida farmers using new and old technologies and how the goal for this program is to educate consumers and other farmers on current practices.

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Cacee Hilliard with Florida Farm Bureau
  • This Farm CARES Program
  • National Water Quality Month
  • How do farmers save water in Florida? A state with very sandy soil that doesn’t allow for a lot of water retention.
  • Farmers and ranchers are part of the solution with good water quality
  • Latest innovations and technologies
  • Tree T-Pee from Shark Tank
  • Water Wars

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 115: Farming without the bank?

Mary Jo Irmen is the woman behind Farming Without the Bank. In our interview today, Mary Jo and I chat about how she developed this strategy, why farmers have to buy the farm generation after generation, and how financing don’t have to be super complicated!

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Mary’s background
  • How do farmers make the bank plan B
  • How do farmers leave a legacy so we are not buying it with each generational change
  • Why farmers need to think of themselves as a banker and they need to be bank owners
  • The “Infinite Banking” concept 
  • Why it’s not bad for farmers of any size to be told no from the bank
  • Why farmers having control of their money is a HUGE factor in when to sell or hold
  • Mary’s Podcast: Farming without the Bank

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 114: Can Gene Editing make food healthier?

My guest today is Dr. Haven Baker from Pairwise. Pairwise is a growing food tech company working to create a healthier world through better fruits and vegetables. Uniquely, they are working to address barriers to consumption – think things like flavor, texture, and shelf life – to that will make healthier eating easier and more accessible. Today, only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC.

In our interview, Dr. Baker and I chat about how Pairwise is using gene editing to create healthier and tastier foods, the “snackification” of fruits and vegetables, and the advantages of gene editing over plant breeding.

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Dr. Baker’s Background
  • Background of Pairwise
  • Creating leafy greens, berries, and cherries
  • Working with Bayer
  • Working genetics
  • Gene editing and GMOs?
  • Advantages of gene editing vs plant breeding
  • Plant DNA
  • CRISPR technology
  • How this can improve diets.
  • The convivence of food.
  • “Snackification” of fruits and veggies.
  • Why we don’t see commercials for commodity crops.
  • Pairwise closed a $90M Series B funding round earlier this year, and now has more than 100 employees (in only three years.)
  • Addressing barriers to consumption – think things like flavor, texture, and shelf life – to that will make healthier eating easier and more accessible.

Quotes

  • “Today, only 10% of Americans eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC.”

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 113: What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are always super fascinating to me. Little, yet delicious greens that can be added to almost any dish. My good friend (and past guest on the show) Paul Hoff, introduced me to our guests today because he absolutely LOVES their microgreens! Daniel and Jordan Miranda are the minds behind Legacy Greens. Based out of Tallahassee, Daniel and Jordan grow several varieties of microgreens for customers all around North Florida. In our interview today, we chat about their backgrounds with sales and hemp, how they are able to grow year round in a very controlled environment, and much more!

And even enjoy a fun guest intro from my ol pal, Ben!

Check them out at the links below!

Legacy Greens Website

Legacy Greens Instagram

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Daniel and Jordan’s backgrounds
  • What are microgreens
  • Differences between microgreens, shoots, wheatgrass
  • Meeting demands of customers
  • Covid’s effect on business
  • Products: Broccoli, Kale, Purple Radish, etc.
  • Can almost any plant have a microgreen?
  • Creating Grow Kits for customers
  • Working at farmers markets

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 112: Jay Williams – Williams Honey Farm

Beekeeping and honey production are not easy tasks. Especially now as bee populations continue to dwindle across the world. My guest today is Jay Williams from Williams Honey Farm in Tennessee. Jay walks us through how he went from film school to beekeeping! Jay and I also talk about the issues facing bees, his beekeeping academy for beginning and novice beekeepers, and how he removes bees from all types of places where they AREN’T supposed to be.

And fun fact for you, Jay’s sister is the one and only Kimberly Williams-Paisley!

 

Jay’s Bio:

Jay Williams has owned and operated Williams Honey Farm LLC for the past 13 years.  He produces award winning honey, raises nucs/queens, teaches in-person/digital beekeeping schools, and coaches/mentors new and seasoned beekeepers.  His bees have been the subject of film and print productions both locally and nationally.  Globally, his beekeeping videos have been viewed more than 7 million times.  Follow along with his daily beekeeping adventures @williamshoneytn or visit www.williamshoneyfarm.com for more info.

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • Jay’s background in filmmaking
  • Filmmaking now Bees
  • The start of Williams Honey Farm
  • Tactical Beekeeping Academy and Coaching
  • Almond farms and bees…a unhealthy relationship?
  • Growing on Instagram with videos and reels
  • Mites attacking bee populations.
  • Harvesting Bee Pollen
  • What is Bee Venom and is it helpful to humans?
  • Getting stung on purpose? That’s apitherapy.
  • Bee removal process.
  • How Jay makes honey products.
  • Current issues facing bees and beekeeping

Facts on Honey and Bees

  • Queen bees can lay 2000 eggs PER DAY!

Top Quotes

  • “A lot of people focus on the honey.  You’ve got to remember that there are a ton of other thing a bee hive produces.”
  • “No one has figured out how to be the perfect beekeeper.  No one has really mastered it yet.  We’re still paving the way to do it better.”

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!

Ep 111: Less Waste = Cheaper Food?

Let’s talk about how reducing food waste might mean cheaper foods. Today I’m chatting with David Kat from Wasteless about how they are helping reduce food waste. Did you know that almost 1/3 of all food made for human consumption goes to waste?

David is responsible for establishing lasting partnerships as well as being an ambassador for Wasteless‘ technology. David was the online publisher and business developer for various VNU (now AC Nielsen) enterprises in the Netherlands, London, and Paris. He’s a business developer, entrepreneur, and active investor since 2004. He teamed up early with companies including Mobileye, X-Sight Sys, Magink, and AgentVI to successfully bring their innovations to incumbent industries.

See More at Wasteless.com

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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Show Notes

  • David’s background
  • “At Wasteless, we’re helping supermarkets and online grocery stores recapture the full value of their perishable products and reduce food waste through AI-powered dynamic pricing.”

  • What’s the difference between expires and used by date

  • Roughly 1/3 of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste.

  • Food waste at every step – Production, storage, processing, distribution, consumption.

  • Smart digital stores?

Call to Action

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The hardest thing about adulthood.

Back in the day, the Lego aisle at Walmart was my favorite place. Dozens and dozens of Lego sets were there for the taking. I was excited over the prospects of a new toy but also stressed out as to which one to get. “Should I get the new Bionicle set or another Star Wars ship? Or maybe Megablocks?….Eh no. Megablocks are bad.” The only real question was which one mom and dad would let me have because as most parents know, Legos are crazy expensive.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m feeling the same excitement and stress I felt on that aisle. Just this time it’s towards what hobbies to follow. Most of the time, every man has their go to hobby. But, I can’t really identify one or even two hobbies. Fishing? BBQ? Coding? Reading? Exercising? Wood working? Drawing? Hunting? Gardening? Firearms? Podcasting? Golf? Diving? Cooking? Flying? Just to name a few! Which do I choose?!

Many of my friends and family are experts in one or two hobbies. One friend knows all things about guns and cars. Another is an expert gardener. While another, is an outdoor expert. Yet, I’ve struggled to find just one or even two. Instead, I’m ok at BBQ. I can do the odd wood working project here and there. I’m a decent gardener and an “ok” cook.

Yet, there are a lot more things I’d like to do. Like flying (but I need a cool $10,000 to get started at that, lol), golfing, and fishing (R.I.P. our boat), just to name a few.

But the key lesson here, that I’m slowly learning, is that as long as your trying something and having fun, you’re golden. It’s okay to be a jack of all trades, master of none. It’s also ok to be a pro at one hobby. As long as your learning and trying to improve at something you enjoy, you’ll be just fine.

What’s your hobby? Or rather, what are your hobbies?

-T

Ep 110: Cow/Calf Veterinarian – Dr. Marissa Hake

Dr. Marissa Hake is the Director of Animal Welfare and Sustainable Farming and FariLife and is a former calf veterinarian. Today on the show, Marissa and I talk about veal, life as a veterinarian, as well as her new work with Fairlife.

Check out Dr. Hake at the links below:

Dr. Hake on Instagram

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

itunes  spotify  1200x630wa  Untitled design (2)  Untitled design (1)  red-sushi-logo.png

Show Notes

  • Marissa’s Background
  • Cow/Calf Veterinarian
  • Veterinarian mental health
  • Working with veal
  • What is veal?
  • Animal health
  • Animal welfare
  • Misconceptions in animal agriculture
  • Working at Fairlife
  • Fairlife incident
  • British white cattle

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Ep 108: Farm Finances with AgAmerica

Curt Covington is Senior Director of Institutional Lending at AgAmerica. In our interview today, Curt will explain what farm lending is, how it’s a pain for smaller farmers, and how AgAmerica is offering a new financial help tool that aims at helping farmers gauge their financial health.

Check out Curt and AgAmerica at the links below:

AgAmerica Website

Financial Health Calculator

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

itunes  spotify  1200x630wa  Untitled design (2)  Untitled design (1)  1200x630wa  red-sushi-logo.png

Show Notes

  • Curt’s background
  • What is the Ag lending market?
  • Mortgage origination – buy more land or refinance?
  • Work like bank lending?
  • Farmers today are increasingly expected to generate more output with less resources.
  • What is a real-estate investment trust?
  • Is there different value for “organic” land?
  • Financing and financial health of an ag operation.
  • Top financial challenges that farmers face today, how they’re coping, and tips for achieving financial stability.
  • AgAmerica’s Financial Health Check Tool that provides operators with a composite evaluation score of the overall financial health of their agricultural operation.

Call to Action

Want to stay up to date on the show, consider following our newsletter.  As a thank you for signing up, you’ll receive a FREE guide on 5 simple steps you can do to support farmers.  Sign Up HERE!