Ep 134: KC Cattle Company

To bring in the new year, the first episode of 2022 is a great one. Today, I’m interviewing KC Cattle Company CEO and Owner, Patrick Montgomery. Before starting KC Cattle Co, Patrick spent time as an Army Ranger. Many of the members of the KC Cattle Co family are veterans and have brought what they learned in the service to the company that specializes in wagyu beef. In our chat today, Patrick and I will chat about how he started KCCC, what makes Wagyu so wonderful, how their hotdog was voted “Best Hotdog in the WORLD“, and how they deliver straight to consumers.

This is a fun one! And check out Patrick and KC Cattle Company at the links below.

Website: KC Cattle Company

Instagram: KC Cattle on Instagram

Facebook: KC Cattle on Facebook

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes:

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtravele

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

Big things happening in 2022

In case you didn’t see our post on social media, there will be a slight change to the posting on content on the Farm Traveler podcast channel. But don’t fret, it’s nothing major!

Podcasting has been an amazing hobby that I am now able to turn into a side hustle. I am now producing a few other Ag-related shows, more info on those soon! But, to help with not getting overworked and also balancing my day job and a master program I’m taking, we will be changing up the scheduling of FT content.

Every other Tuesday, you’ll be getting new podcast episodes.

Every other Friday, you’ll be getting new Farm News Friday episodes BOTH on the podcast channel and over on our YouTube channel (and if you haven’t already, go and subscribe to the channel HERE).

That’s it! Nothing else major. Just more time for me to produce high-quality content for you on food and farming.

Thanks again for the support. For listening and sharing this fun passion of mine. Can’t wait to see where it goes in the new year!

Ep 132: Alberta on a Plate

Canada, a neighbor to the North is home to countless amazing farmers, ranchers, and restaurants. Our guest today is Rheannon Green from Alberta on a Plate, which Canada, a neighbor to the North is home to countless amazing farmers, ranchers, and restaurants. Our guest today is Rheannon Green from Alberta on a Plate, which is dedicated to celebrating farmers and restaurants throughout the province. What was first inspired by Alberta Farm Days has transformed into a huge resource for farmers, consumers, and restaurant owners who all want to support local food. Check them out at the links below.

Website: https://www.albertaontheplate.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/abontheplate

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abontheplate

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes:

  • 40000 farms in Alberta
  • Rheannon’s background Background
  • Start of Alberta on a Plate
  • Alberta farm days
  • Why is a strong local food economy important?
  • Any examples of farmers and chefs working together?
  • How has this helped Rheannon see how food is made and how we can make better food decisions?

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

Ep 131: Sweet Thistle Farms

Have you ever been to a flower farm? I sure haven’t! It’s an often overlooked part of the agriculture industry, but flowers are a huge part of horticulture and account for billions of dollars every ear across the US. Today on the show, I’m interviewing Sarah Shoffner with Sweet Thistle Farms, a cut flower and pumpkin farm in the Central Valley in California. In our interview, Sarah and I chat about her background, how she grows flowers and pumpkins, the fall rush with customers, and a loooot more!

Sweet Thistle Farms Website

Sweet Thistle on Instagram

D

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

  • Sarah’s Background
  • Growing pumpkins and flowers
  • Goat dairy
  • central valley California, Fresno
  • Growing flowers from plugs

Question from a listeners:

  • Mildew control in pumpkins…
  • Best way to market flowers besides a farmer’s market?
  • What kind of soil do pumpkins grow well in?

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

Ep 130: Is the Food Supply Chain broken?

Can we fix our food supply chain? Yes, we can! And companies like SIMPLi are going to be at the front of that fight. Today, I’m joined with Matt Cohen, co-founder of a company called SIMPLi that is revolutionizing the food supply chain. Learn more how Matt and everyone at SIMPLi are working directly with farmers to bring better products to consumers while also helping those farmers as much as possible.

SIMPLi, an ingredients company whose mission is to bring the best, most nutritious and delicious single-origin ingredients (quinoa, extra virgin olive oil, beans, etc.) from around the world to your kitchen.

Matt and co-founder Sarela Herrada

EatSimpli.com

D

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

  • Matt’s Background
  • Entreprenuers
  • Metaverse
  • Start of Simpli
  • Normal Supply Chain vs SIMPLi
  • Fraudulent food activity?
  • How has Covid impacted these small farmers?

SIMPLi, an ingredients company whose mission is to bring the best, most nutritious, and delicious single-origin ingredients (quinoa, extra virgin olive oil, beans, etc.) from around the world to your kitchen.

  • Eliminate fraudulent activity in the supply chain + create sourcing transparency on a global level. Food fraud is estimated to cost the industry between $30-40 billion per year. By working directly with growing communities in Peru and Greece to consolidate all the middle parties (co-ops, broker, exporter, importer, distributor, etc.), they have been able to create a fully vertical supply chain for getting products from farms to consumers, preventing 100% fraudulent supply chain activity.
  • Combat climate change. Agriculture emits an estimated 10.5% of greenhouse gases. SIMPLi’s partners use regenerative organic farming in order to grow the most nutritious ingredients possible and to minimize the harmful effects that conventional agriculture has on our environment. Simpli has helped 560 farmers and 1,060 acres transition from traditional to regenerative organic working farms.
  • Supporting global farming communities. After harvest, ingredients will touch about seven steps in the supply chain before landing in the hands of a business or consumers. These middle players can trigger a number of transaction fees, taking money directly away from farmers. Because of SIMPLi’s simple supply chain of “Farmer – SIMPLi – You”, they are able to pay above market price and improve the livelihoods of their farmers.

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

Ep 129: A TikToking and YouTubing Texas Farmer – Farmer Dan

Have you ever heard of something called “Milo”? I sure haven’t. I apparently do know it’s more common name, which you’ll find out soon in today’s episode!

Today’s guest is Dan Sell, aka FarmerDan, who grows wheat and milo in Texas. Dan and I chat about his background, how he built an awesome following on social media, his future plans, and much more! I had a blast chatting with Dan so I definitely think you’ll enjoy this episode! And don’t forget to check out Dan’s content below.

Dan’s YouTube

Dan on Instagram

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

  • Dan’s background of being a 7th generation farmer
  • Harvest 2021
  • Crop rotation with wheat and sorghum
  • Leave out ground
  • No till and no till fertilizing
  • Wheat and Milo (aka sorghum)
  • Planting sorghum
  • Got married recently and went right back to planting
  • What’s the planting/harvesting schedule look like
  • What are some big misconceptions consumers have of farming?
  • YouTube videos/Instagram/AND TikTok
  • Harvest videos and pictures

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

Ep 128: Ranchers Thinking Outside the Box

Let’s talk about ranching. Specifically, what ranchers are doing to set themselves apart as well as improve both their enjoyment with work and profit of the business. My guest today is Jared Luhman from the Herd Quitter Podcast. Jared is a busy man with a day job, ranching job, AND a cool podcast focused on, you guessed it, ranching! The Herd Quitter Podcast is all about learning from ranchers around the world that are thinking outside the box and going new and exciting things to both help their businesses turn a profit as well as increase their happiness on the job. In our interview today, Jared and I talk about the biggest lessons he has learned, stories of ranches diversifying to the extreme and being super successful, and how it’s important to shift the business even when you think you can’t.

Herd Quitter Podcast.

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript


Trevor: All right. Well, Jared lumen welcome the farm traveler podcast, man. How are you doing?


Jared: Oh, I’m doing great. Thank you so much. Yeah. Happy to be here, dude.


Trevor: Yeah. I’m excited to chat with you. You’re a fellow podcast or you’ve got a cool podcast called the herd quitter. Um, so I always like to geek out with fellow like ag pod-casters and stuffed it.
I mean yeah. They figure out what your, what your niche is, how your podcasting journey is and all that stuff. So, yeah. Uh, before we kinda dive in about your podcasts, kind of tell us a little bit about yourself, kind of your.

Jared: Sure. Yeah, no, I, I would love to it’s it is fun to talk to other podcasters. I I’ve had conversations with people and stuff on the side just to like, yeah.
The, the nitty-gritty things of how they’re doing, what they’re doing. So I’m excited to get into that. But, um, my, my background, so I grew up right here. This, the house I live in is my, it was my grandfather’s house and our family has been here on this land. For quite a while. Um, the farm we’re on, we got in the 1960s and our family has been farming on this street, [00:01:00] uh, for over a century.
So I’ve been in farming. My family has been in farming and agriculture for quite a while. Um, we. Weren’t always kind of doing what we’re doing now. I would say my grandfather was a fairly progressive kind of a conventional commodity based farmer. He was farming like a thousand acres, 140 beef cows milk and nearly 200 cows and a couple of hundred sheep back in like the seventies, which was wild for its time.
Like very progressive and big. And we had, uh, a foreign exchange student who actually came to our farm back then in, in. The late eighties, I want to say, or something like that. Uh, the mid, mid eighties who was at our place and just flat out told my dad and my grandpa, uh, you guys are doing this all wrong.
Like why, why are you working so hard? You, you should, you know, you’re 15 years behind us over in New Zealand. Um, and so. My grandpa, you know, could have easily taken offense to that. But instead of taking offense, he actually sent my dad kind of encouraged my dad to go over to New Zealand and learn [00:02:00] what he was talking about.
So my dad went over to New Zealand, worked on a gray grazing based dairy and another grazing based beef and sheep station. And that’s kind of changed the trajectory of our family farm for. You know, for decades now. And he came back home and started a grazing based farm. And, and today now that I could spare you all the details of the 30 year transition to where we are now, but now, uh, we’re.
Uh, primarily pasture based operation. We raised red, it registered red Angus beef cattle. Uh, we sell seed stock or bulls through Farrow cattle company. My wife and I own, uh, uh, the grass fed cattle company, which is kind of our direct marketing enterprise for our farm. And we market pasture chicken that we raised on our farm and grass fed beef, and then pastured pork.
We get from another farm. Um, and that’s kind of what my wife and I have been doing to kind of add on enterprises to our farm and add profitability and also to, you know, really, it’s just a lot of fun to be able to connect [00:03:00] with consumers. It’s gosh, some of the, the relationships we’ve developed with our consumers has been a blast.
So. Um, yeah, that’s fun. And then in addition to the farm, which keeps me pretty busy, I also work for the sustainable farming association of Minnesota as their soil health lead. So I do a lot of consulting and networking with farmers all across the state of Minnesota to help educate farmers on soil health and, and how they can use and implement soil health principles within their own context and on their farm.
And then, uh, yeah, I think that’s most of it, our farm, our marketing enterprise, the podcast and the soil health or the soil health lead for the sustainable farming associate.

Trevor: So a little bit going on, it sounds like just a little bit.

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. We stay busy, but it’s all, it’s all, you know, the cool thing about it is that I love everything I do.
And there’s a lot of truth to the statement. I mean, it’s cliche, but if you work, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. And so I definitely stay busy, but if I enjoy every bit of [00:04:00] it, then it’s pretty.

Trevor: Well, that’s good. And kind of going back to that soil health. I mean, if you’re, I feel like if you’re, um, doing like rotational grazing and just grass fed beef, I mean, your soil health is going to be like the most important thing you’ve got to pay attention to.

Jared:
Yeah. And that’s a big reason why we kind of have been transitioning to the grass-based agriculture. Um, I, there in that long history of our farm, my dad went home. I’ll kind of briefly summarize it. My dad started a farm of his own, uh, doing a grazing dairy. And then in early 2000, when my grandpa was ready to back out of the home farm, we came to where we are now in the home farm.
And he stopped doing the grazing dairy. We still had beef cattle, but we started organic crop farming and. Over 20 years of doing that, our family, my dad taught my grandpa or my grandpa taught my dad. My dad taught me always. We want to leave the land in better condition than we found it. And with all of the tillage that was required to manage weeds in that organic cropping system, we didn’t feel that we were advancing our soil health [00:05:00] in the direction that we wanted to go.
And so that’s really in the. Five years we’ve started. And in the last two to three years, we’ve really started to accelerate this transition to a hundred percent perennial pasture based farm. Um, for that reason that you just mentioned of, you know, wanting to improve, improve our soil health and we’ve, while we’ve been.
For many decades. Anyway, it’s been kind of on the side, like on the grazing acres, not so much on the tillable acres, but we’ve seen the benefits of it. I mean, just production increases, erosion decreases, you know, just soil seems healthier, more green, lush, plants, more everything. And we wanted. Continue to grow that across our farm.
And so, yeah, we’ve made this transition now to where, with the exception of one farm that’s down the road, that we haven’t figured out how to get cattle there. Uh, we, we rent it and we’re not sure about installing the infrastructure to make it grazing with the exception of that. And now the whole farm.
Perennial pasture, [00:06:00] and we’re really excited about it and what it can do. It’s a lot of fun to it. It definitely, I always joke. It was kind of odd. I grew up wanting to be a crop farmer. I loved sitting in a tractor and when I was in high school, it was probably easier because when something broke down, I’d just be like, Hey dad, you know, I’m gonna head out with the friends you fix this.
Let me know when you want me to sit in the tractor again. But when I got home to farm full-time and then when something broke, it was no longer. I’d call him dad. And he would be like, well, fix it. You’re working for the farm. So fix it. And all of a sudden, uh, cattle seemed a little more appealing to me and that along with other reasons, we really do enjoy grazing in livestock.
And so it more aligned with all of our goals.

Trevor: That’s awesome. And so kind of, I guess this kind of involves your podcast a little bit, but kind of that enjoyment, I mean, with your podcast, herd quitter, you’re kind of talking with ranchers, um, That are at, they’re doing a really good job. It seems like of being both profitable [00:07:00] and enjoyment, like enjoying what they’re doing.
And so how hard is that? I mean, from, from your perspective, how hard is it to not only like turn a profit with. But also to enjoy it where you don’t get burned out. So how hard is that?

Jared: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a good question. It is a challenge. Um, you know, it’s interesting because as we made this transition to more grazing, the problem that we saw was not that the income wasn’t there to sustain both my dad and myself on our farm.
The problem was there all sudden there wasn’t enough labor or there was enough work for the labor we had. We, we had. I like to joke that kit feral got me fired kind of in this philosophy of low input ranching, all of a sudden, Alison I wasn’t necessary anymore. So it increased our lifestyle to the point where we really, that didn’t really make sense for me to be around here.
Cause the life, you know, there wasn’t there wasn’t enough work and that’s kind of what led me off to do some of these other things, you know, the job and the podcast, uh, came have come since that transition. But it can be a challenge to, [00:08:00] to do so many things. And I would say that it’s, it’s a challenge that I fight with today yet is that I have this desire to always do more and do more that I enjoy.
Um, but especially since the birth of our baby boy, Colton, back in June, I’m realizing that there’s more to life than work and, and, and that the work side of, you know, this maybe isn’t the most sustainable long-term and that, uh, you need. And the limits, I guess I need to learn to say no better. So you’re right.
It’s a real challenge.

Trevor: Um, yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, not only you got the business, you got the job, the day job, the podcast, also a dad. So that’s, that’s probably a little bit hectic. I can imagine juggling all that stuff.

Jared: Yeah. Some days get wild, but I’ve got an amazing supportive wife. Who’s an amazing mother and partner in all of these things as well.
Uh, with the exception of the podcast, she helps in the farm. She helps in our she’s very, uh, vital in our marketing enterprise. So definitely not a solo act.

Trevor: No, I believe you. Yeah. And I mean, kind of relating to the whole podcast thing. I mean, I think it is definitely a struggle, like turning a profit and also enjoying it.
Like I started this podcast, I think, like I was telling you earlier, like two and a half years ago. And I think after two and a half years, we’re like $25. Profit this month so far, like, or no of the year, which isn’t bad. And so we’re getting there and I’m also like enjoying it, but I mean, sometimes you get burnt out and you like compare yourself to other podcasts out there.
And so I think you just gotta focus on like being better than you were last month and just kind of enjoying it. So, but, but I mean, again, this is just like a small, small hobby, I guess. So there’s not as much.

Jared: Yeah. And with the podcast, I don’t know how you, you know, how you started, but I started thinking this may or may never be profitable.
I don’t know. But I saw it almost the biggest part of it was like, Hey, this is a great excuse to call a lot of people that would have thought it was weird if I called them otherwise, you know, if I call up some of my kids [00:10:00] out of the blue and said, Hey, can I ask you some questions? Y, who are you? Why? No, by instead I say, Hey, I’ve got this podcast.
I’d love to interview you. And they’re like, oh, sure. Yeah, I’d be happy to do it. So it’s an excuse to get, to meet people and build a network that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, whether it was profitable or not. It was a heck of a lot better, more affordable education than I ever could have gotten through university and other things.
Yeah,

Trevor: that’s a good point. I mean, cause yeah, it is weird if you call them out of the blue and they’re like, first off, who are you a, why should I talk to you? And you’re like, Hey, I’ve got a podcast. Like I, as well as my listeners want to learn from you. So let’s chat a little bit. So that’s such a good point.

Jared: That’s funny. Yeah. I figured that, you know, for, for them it’s like, yeah, they get to share whatever they’re doing. And it’s probably like. I mean, like when you reached out and stuff, it’s like, yeah, I’d be honored to talk about what I’ve learned, whether I have anything to share really or not. You know what I mean?
So, yeah, it definitely makes a little bit easier. The approach to some of these pretty incredible people who have some pretty incredible.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s true. [00:11:00] So going off of that, your podcast heard quitter, um, your tagline is awesome. It’s about farmers and ranchers that do things differently that are going outside the norm, trying to turn a profit, trying to be different.
And so what I mean, what have been the biggest takeaway so far from doing your podcast? Like what have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned? And I mean, I know there’s a bunch. Um, so what are, what have kind of been the biggest takeaways?

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. So like, you kind of mentioned the name, the herd quitter podcast, and that phrase, it wasn’t my own.
It came from kit, uh, who we raised bulls for and stuff like, and I talked to him and. The idea of this herd quitter, for those of your listeners who have cattle, is we probably all, they’ve probably all moved this group of cows and there’s the one cow that’s fighting her way back, you know, trying to go the other direction and just drives you nuts.
Um, but she’s, she’s that herd quitter cow. And at first, at first glance, you think that’s pretty, just an annoying animal. You really don’t want her there, but if you really think that. Of this herd of [00:12:00] whatever 200 cows, 500, whatever it is, that is the only cow who’s thinking for themselves and like truly thinking for themselves and doing their own thing.
And you gotta respect that really. I mean, that’s, that’s pretty neat. And so that was my goal out of this is just to interview people. Are not afraid to be like that cow and think for themselves, even if the people pushing them in the other direction, don’t like it, even if all the cows are pushing by her, you know, pushing her the other direction, you know, they’re thinking for themselves.
And so your question of like, what have I learned? It’s been really like, just thinking of all the interviews, kind of a common thread that I would say with everyone is like true intentionality with every decision they make. I would say it’s probably one of the bigger ones. Like they’re not, they’re running their business.
They’re not letting their business run them. They’re not just doing what they’ve always done because they’ve always done it. They’re intentional about every decision does, does in the question, thinks they look at what their dad and grandfather didn’t say. Does this make [00:13:00] sense? Look, let’s look at current market conditions.
Look, look, let’s look at our context. What are our resources? What are our advantages and disadvantages and does doing that make sense? Not because the neighbor does it or my grandfather did it, but does it make sense today? A lot of them maybe found that certain things didn’t make sense. And then the thing that kind of goes along with that intentionality is then the ability to act, you know, the ability to, to do something different, to seek out something different.
And you know, I’d say, so it’s kind of an overarching theme mindset. I mean, it’s all over. Uh, very little of it has to do with what we’re doing day in and day out. It’s it’s the, the mental ballad battle to be willing to think differently and then act differently. If you find that maybe what you had been doing doesn’t make sense.
Trevor: Um, yeah, so I’ve heard from a lot of like old, old school farmers that, I mean, quote unquote, they do it just because this is kind of the way it’s always been done. So do you think that’s [00:14:00] kind of like an old school rationale?

Jared: Yeah. You know, and it’s so circle, you know, every, every farm probably does things for their own reasons. So I never liked don’t want to paint with a broad brush and say, everybody does it for one reason, but I do think there is, you know, there’s definitely something to tradition and doing, you know what, we’ve always what we’ve always done and maybe not even doing it intentionally because that’s what they’ve always done, but just not even recognizing that there’s a different way to do it.
Um, I mean, I think a lot of us in this. Like a credit to the industry are incredibly hard workers and they spend a lot of time working in the business day in and day out. And so they never have the time to think to work on the business. I think this is that’s kind of the work, what we versus what would be like working in the business versus working on the business, kind of goes through the ranching for profit, I think has kind of who came up with that.
But, um, If you don’t have time to really think about it at all, because you’re spending [00:15:00] all your time doing your job, your, your, the daily jobs and stuff, you’ll never be able to make a change. And so, you know, I can’t say if the true source or the root cause of, of not changing is because it’s just like a desire to do what we’ve always done, or just like a lack of time to think differently or something.
But, uh, you know, that’s, that’s a good question because if we could figure out what the, the, the challenge is, the reason why. We’ll never change or won’t change people don’t change. You know, we could address it and make some pretty big changes pretty quick. But the, the ag industry, they say changes one funeral at a time, which is kind of maybe the, a little bit of a sad statement and stuff is that a lot of times it takes a generation, the net, you know, passing to let the next generation have the ability to start doing things, to do.

Trevor: I haven’t heard that, but that does make a lot of sense. I quote, um, yeah, I mean, you brought up something like ranching is such a 24 7 job. I mean, if you find out that there is a different way of doing it, I mean, that’s going to be stressful. That’s going to take you so [00:16:00] much time to implement those changes.
I’m sure. And so, I mean, that’s, I mean, like you said, it’s probably a reason why a lot of people didn’t change. Like it was just so much that they had to do to get to that step.

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. You know, a lot of the things that. The w we talk about that the guests that I’ve had arm talk about are our ideas that just to a person who’s done it one way or more of the conventional way, their whole life.
And then for generations seem ridiculous. I mean, for one, for example, To Kevin May and June. We’ll just take that as an example, uh, CA calving in may and June is what we recommend for multiple reasons. I mean, you’re aligning your you’re calving season, w which is the time when a cow needs the highest nutrient requirement with when the environment produces the most, the highest availability of high quality nutritious feed.
In spring, we have the spring flush of grass and abundance of grass when the cow needs it, it makes sense to me, but a lot of people’s mindset is. Uh, we’re trying to sell pounds, total pounds [00:17:00] of meat. And the earlier that I can have a calf, the longer that a calf has to grow during the year, the more pounds I’ll have to sell them a fall when we sell meat.
Um, that, so for them to think I’m going to move my cabin back to three, four months. Is mind blowing. I mean, just, just, it’s just a challenging, a lot of these things, maybe aren’t even infrastructure changes or, you know, work changes. It’s, it’s mental barriers to thinking, you know? Okay. That maybe could make sense.
Um, that’s one example. There’s so many that could make sense to like another example. People, a lot of times will have their cattle and pastors spread all over the countryside. Or if they’ve got, you know, say a thousand acres, they’ll have them broken out into 150 200 acre paddocks and have a group of cattle.
Each paddock and they spend all day checking every group, checking every water. When in reality, they, they could just put them all in one group and move them daily. But the, the idea is if I had all these cattle in the group and I have to move, I have to move cattle every day. That sounds ridiculous. Why would I move cattle every day?
Instead they just [00:18:00] spend all day going and checking 10 different groups every day. And so not only then does that benefit end up reducing workload by moving them in one group, um, versus checking 10 groups. There’s tremendous land and soil and grasp, uh, production benefits that come along with moving cattle more regularly.
And so I do think that, you know, a big part of it is just that some of them, some of the practices that some of the folks that come on, my podcast that I’ve talked to, it’s just so contradictory or counterintuitive to the production model that they’ve been doing. That it’s almost the barriers, just, you know, mental, you know, we can’t do that. That doesn’t make any sense. It won’t work here.

Trevor: Hmm. That’s interesting. Yeah. Um, yeah. So talking about your guests and it, it was funny. I had no clue you’d bring them up, but actually listened to your episode with kit Pharaoh, talking about building a network, kind of the importance of that. And so, I mean, you you’ve interviewed a bunch of people around the U S around Australia and stuff like that. So when you’re talking to them, what are kind of some of the [00:19:00] biggest struggles that all of these ranchers are facing, whether it’s environmental factors, market factors would have kind of been. I guess the most common struggles that they faced.

Jared: Uh, that’s a, that’s a good question. It’s probably one that I need to focus more on. I’ll be honest. It’s as probably to the wrong side of my, my podcast is that I focus on the things that they’re doing well, and I need to focus more on their struggles. Cause that’s where we all need. We can learn from the most, um, you know, it, it seems like the majority of the things that they’re struggling with or.
Things that they were struggling with. I keep going back to this mental challenge for the longest time. A lot of these folks will just have thought that something different wasn’t possible and they find out after practicing or trying a little thing that it was. But as far as challenges for the whole, you know, the whole industry that a lot of these guests faced at one point probably a big one is the cost of production.
I mean, in agriculture, [00:20:00] I don’t know that. Like looked at the cost of a tractor recently or something or a combine. I mean, it’s skyrocketed, it’s wild. I mean, I was just watching a YouTube video the other day of a, and this is a grain farm. They had five S seven 90 combines and the person was talking about the value of it.
And I was just doing the math in that field. That farmer had three and a half million dollars tied up in just combines and corn. Alone, just in that, in that field. And that’s, you know, the cost of production is, is wild. And so if you are in a business model, which the majority of agriculture and the majority of ranchers are in have a high input system. Um, where you, your thought is based around selling as many pounds as possible. Um, the only way I can do that is by, you know, high inputs, high expenses, you know, that’s a tough game to win because you’re competing against people who have way more and kind of can, can compete on scales of efficiency that I can never dream of, you know, on my farm where now we got little over 200 cows and there are people.
20,010, 2000 cows for me to compete with them, you know, to own the same equipment, to feed my cows as them. It doesn’t make sense. Um, I, I shouldn’t try and compete with them on a cost of production, battle and stuff. So that’s kind of why a lot of my producer, the guests I have on are focusing more on low input, high profit, as opposed to high input high production, which may or may not lead to profit.
Um, So, yeah, that’s probably the biggest one and this model that we face or that we’re trying to implement in that most of my guests are trying to implement as mimicking nature with. It’s not it’s it’s dependent. Do you mean really your only cost of mimicking nature then is your land cost and your labor costs.
You don’t have to worry about, you know, any other equipment and stuff. And so when we just get out of the, the rat race of trying to compete with some of these other guys kind of, I guess [00:22:00] another challenge you could say would be that kind of keeping up with the Jones’s mindset, looking at the neighbors and what they have and what they.
They do and trying to compete. That’s that’s not worth it. Like you had mentioned about podcasts too. I mean, same thing. Looking at the next person’s podcast, I’ll never be a Joe Rogan. I know that. I don’t even know how many podcasts listeners he’s got, but, uh, I don’t even bother. It’s not worth it.

Trevor: Some of the millions, um, so going, going back to, um, your guests, so getting off of their struggles would have been like, what are some things that they’re succeeding at? I mean, what are some things that have been like super remarkable to learn that they’re doing that they’re doing differently that have maybe helped, I don’t know, maybe save their bids.

Jared: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Uh, so I mean, kind of the, and I don’t know how specific you want me to get into the ranching, you know, kind of business and stuff. They’re very simple changes that all stem back to a simple mindset change, first of all, but. You know, a big one calving window, like I [00:23:00] said, I mean the simple thing of changing their calving window back allows them to reduce their winter feed costs tremendously.
Um, it also reduces their labor inputs. I mean, when you can, in January and February, first of all, you need to have building infrastructure, especially up here in the Midwest, I’m in Minnesota. Uh, you have to have infrastructure to keep them warm and to keep those cabs warm. And, uh, and, and so that’s expensive.
Plus there’s more cabin troubles in barns and in winter and stuff than there is out in pasture when they can kind of cab naturally and everything. And so people check their cows for calving and their heifers for calves every couple hours. And that’s labor intensive and stressful. When I came home to farm, we were actually calving in March and I think it was.
Partially joking, mostly true, uh, that I would put on my winter weight all winter, and I would lose about 15 pounds in about six days of calving season, because it is so labor intensive and hard work. Um, you know, so that’s a big one. Um, another guest that, well, a couple of guests I’ve had on Wally Olson and Doug Ferguson have been their topic, uh, has been really popular with a lot of my listeners of sell by mark.
Which is kind of just a different view on marketing. A lot of people in, in agriculture, in the, in the feedlot business or in the cattle feeding business, focusing on, uh, buying at a certain time at a certain way and selling at a certain time at a certain weight, everything is a very calendar-based, you know, strict strategy.
It’s very systematic and the same thing happens every time. And what they’re doing is, is just. The opposite. They’re saying I’m not going to buy based on a certain desire if everybody’s buying on the same thing, that animal based on simple economics is going to be higher value overvalued. When more people are interested in something at the same time, it becomes overvalued.
And so what they’re saying is they buy the undervalued animal that not as many people want, bring them to, uh, you know, cheaply on grass, bring them to a weight that they’re all of a sudden overvalued and sell them. It doesn’t matter if it’s. Two weeks or two months later. And doesn’t matter if it’s January or March there, they’re always trading cattle [00:25:00] and just managing, buying the undervalued and selling the overvalued, as opposed to just buying and selling based on a calendar and a pre conceived plan or existing strategy.
And that, that philosophy I’m pretty excited to go. I’m going to be going to one of the classes of these folks here in a month or so to try and learn more about it because it, it really. Um, pretty unique and innovative thinking in this and it kind of goes, they both learned it from bud Williams is the kind of the originator of that idea.
Um, but that, you know, that’s a. Another thing. And then these things can also be applied to cow calf production as well. You know, with cows, each cow has a depreciation schedule. They’re worth more at certain times and certain ages than they are at other certain times at certain ages. And so being intentional again, back to that intentionality about buying cows at certain times when they might be undervalued and selling them at certain times when they’re overvalued, before they begin to go down in value again, There’s there’s just, you know, [00:26:00] I, I’m just fascinated when I talk to these people about how much they think about business in ways that I’ve never even thought about.
It’s like, I thought we’re just out here to move cows and build fence and they’re like, no, no, no. You mean, that’s the $15 an hour, $20 an hour jobs. The money is made in the desk at the desk, thinking about what you’re doing and being intentional and just, I’m just blown away by the intentionality of some of these folks thinking, you know, it’s, it’s.

Trevor: Yeah. I haven’t heard of methods like that before, but I mean, it seems so different, but I feel like things like this might be the future where you gotta be intentional about when you’re going to breed your cows, when they’re going to give birth, when you’re going to sell them. Instead of just kind of like, like you said earlier, kind of going with the flow and just doing what is normal and what’s expected really.
I mean, so it has a lot of that been successes of trial and error, or have there been like, I don’t know, some studies that people have been focusing on and practicing those studies and going.

Jared: Yeah. I mean, it’s cool because I get to talk to some of these people that are kind of coming up with some of these ideas, like kit feral, for example, is kind of the original herd quitter. As far as this whole cow calf philosophy of low input cows, smaller frame, moderate frame cows, and we get to talk to him. And so there’s some people who like I get to talk to who have suffered through the. Learning process those early stages of developing the philosophies in the first place. And they probably had more failures than a lot of us latecomers who get to benefit from the many years of experience, trial and error, uh, that, that those folks had.
So some of my guests are early. Early adopters. And, and some of them are people like myself who listened to a podcast and think that’s an awesome idea. I’m going to try it. And hopefully, you know, podcasts like mine can help them have some resources to try it in a way that won’t be a total failure, um, because they get to learn from somebody else’s failures.

Trevor: That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, I feel like going back to the podcast thing, I feel like my. Lessons that I’ve learned have been from my own failures and then kind of learning from people along the way. I mean, and even so I taught high school ag for two years too. And I feel like some of the biggest lessons I had there were through my own failures and kind of learning them and fixing them.
So it kind of goes back to that like diagram, you always see where it’s like, oh, people think success is a straight line when your reality it’s like all over the place. So you’re failing, succeeding, failing, succeeding. And so you’re never actually like improving unless you’re tracking. And failing every now and then.
So, but I feel like that’s every industry or every discipline or every job, but I think it’s always interesting to watch people do it, um, in the farming and ranching industry, because I mean, they’re failing their businesses depending on it. And so hopefully those are going to be little failures along.
Jared: Yeah. And that’s, that’s a big, I think that’s a big part you asked about like w why some of these things don’t necessarily happen more something. And some of the challenges is there’s like this business is [00:29:00] very slim margin business, and there may not be a lot of room for error and trial and error. Um, so yeah, that, that’s a good point, but I don’t know who says it or how even the quote goes or something it’s like, but yeah, if, if a person never fails, they, they’re not someone to look up to.
It means they haven’t tried enough or something, you know, Yeah, paraphrasing or something like that. I don’t look to the people who’ve never failed. That doesn’t really say much to me. It just says they’re really good at staying comfortable,

Trevor: saying comfortable, being uncomfortable

Jared: and being failing and all that.
Yeah. I appreciate you being an ag teacher too. My wife and I just got back from national FFA convention and yeah. Ag ag programs were huge for us. Appreciate that. Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Trevor: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. I had a blast. I only taught for two years in Daytona and I mean, I was in an ag program in high school when I was a state officer down here in Florida.
And so went to, um, national convention twice, super fun. I was, I think, six rows away from Mike Rowe and he was giving like the, um, he was speaking at national. That was awesome. We

Jared: all went out whenever micro came out, I think at that convention, but I don’t, I don’t think I got that close.

Trevor: That’s awesome. Yeah. I don’t know if he’s been back. I hope he does, but I mean, I honestly can’t tell you how many ag classrooms I’ve been in, where the teacher’s out and they’re playing dirty jobs and it’s always like a good educational episode. Everybody loves it. I mean, it’s, it’s such a cool concept and

Jared: everybody loves one. Yeah, no doubt. No, that

Trevor: does it. So, all right. So some of your other episodes have talked about like ranchers kind of diversifying their operation, whether it’s with like agritourism or even like opening hunting leases on their ranch, which is such a good idea. And so what are some other, maybe some uncommon ways farmers are kind of

Jared: diversifying.
Yeah. Oh, that’s a, that’s a good question. This is one of my favorite interviews was Jerry . And I don’t know [00:31:00] if you’ve listened to that one or not. Uh, in North Dakota, his family, like he had three sons, I think that came home and this was one of my early ones. So I’m going to be, I may or may not be wrong on some of this, but he said, you know, each of them.
Come up with something, bring some value back to this because it brings some value value back to this ranch, because there may not be room for you otherwise, and stuff. And so, um, they, they came back in and he talked about how I think. The first son said, well, we’ve been giving away hunting in this ranch for years.
Let’s let’s, uh, let’s start selling this, you know, make some money on this. And so they started just leasing it out. Well, then they said, you know, rather than leasing out, let’s do a full like outfitting business. So they started doing that. And then they said, we’ve got all these houses that used to be employed.
But nobody wants to live in the rural country anymore. So they’re just sitting empty. Let’s turn these into like lodges and start leasing this out. And then another son came back and turned the barns into like an event center and another son made a brewery. And so they’re just doing so much stuff. And now they’re direct marketing meat.
They’re doing events, they’re doing lodging and outfitting and it’s just like mind blowing. And I think that’s so cool. You know, and his kind of key was like, come up with what your unfair advantages. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do here on our farm. And he said, you know, we’re, we’re our, our context, our resources. We’ve got this vast amount of open Prairie land. That’s great hunting ground. We’re 45 minutes from an airport and a big city, you know, this, this is something that we can tap into. And so they did, and we’re trying to figure out the same thing at our. You know, what can we use, but some other to answer your question, cool.
Diversifications that people have done that I’ve heard about is, um, there’s an individual in Northeast, Minnesota that, that. Just does kind of lodging as well. They built a year to actually at their place, uh, shout out to farm. Yeah. They built a, uh, and they have another house as well that they rent out and it’s like, that’s awesome.
I mean, they have a beautiful area. They’re in a very, like, they recognize that they’re up by Duluth and the north shore of lake superior, like a very tourist popular tourist location. They said, why not take advantage of this? And so they did, I mean, know your area, know your, your. W w what, what can you take advantage of in your region and stuff?
And, um, I mean, We’re just lucky on this in agriculture, kind of a land-based industry to have unique things, to be able to do with the resources. People can come up with creative ways to utilize the resources that, you know, a standard, you know, person who owns a downtown building may, may never be able to do with their real estate resource.
And so. You know, if we can think creatively it’s, there’s the opportunities out there are endless and I’ll have to think more intentionally on some of the, or think some more on what, uh, what some of the people have done on the guests, guests on the podcast. But that Jerry Dolan one jumps out to me immediately because they took, they didn’t, they weren’t settled with one, they just kept on going,

Trevor: oh, they hit the ground running.
I mean, a brewery, a lodging and [00:34:00] outfitting thing. I mean, that’s awesome. I mean, you, you don’t hear about that many. Um, I guess business ideas happening at a ranch, usually it’s like one or two, but I mean, that’s awesome. They kind of hit the ground running there.

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s like kind of a necessity too.
I mean, how many, fortunately. They were able to do that because a lot of ranches can’t sustain three children coming back and that’s a, that’s about true. That’s an awesome opportunity, but it’s also a pretty big challenge to make a ranch that’s profitable enough to sustain three separate families. Plus the older generation four separate families on one land base, they had to come up with something differently and prop to them for being able to.
Yeah, that’s not

Trevor: bad. And I’ve heard of so many, um, ranches going direct to consumers. There’s a ranch here that we’ve been, that we’ve had on the show, Boyd farms fresh, um, in Florida. And they have been selling direct to farmers a lot more, thanks to the pandemic. And it’s great. They go to all these farmer’s markets, they sell their meat right out of a refrigerator truck, and you can buy.
[00:35:00] High quality meat. Usually some of the best cuts on a cow that you usually can’t get for that sort of price. I mean, you go to like a Publix or Walmart or somewhere, you can’t get the kind of cuts that they have. And so it’s cool that a lot of ranches have started selling more than.

Jared: Yeah, I love it. I mean, yeah.
You kind of asked the question earlier about what are some of the challenges that some of these people are facing and a big one is like the commodity market. I mean, we’re competing against people. Even the commodity markets goal is to buy product as cheap as possible. And generally the big operations can produce product cheaper than we can.
And if we’re trying to compete with them on a commodity. Uh, you know, we really can’t. And so to your point about this awesome thing that’s happening in the last year, especially if more farmers doing direct marketing, that’s incredible. I love, I love seeing that because it’s, it’s people finding a way to adapt.
People thinking, you know, maybe this isn’t a good long-term solution for me to continue to try and compete with these big operations on a commodity market. How can I [00:36:00] adapt to that and still do what I love of raising livestock and they’re doing it by going direct to the consumer. There’s, they’re selling more than just meat.
They’re selling their name, they’re selling their relationship. They’re selling their farm. Uh, that’s what we do on our farm. Encourage and invite people to come visit it and experience it. It’s part of our kind of mission and goals of, we want people to have a connection to their food that they would never get by shopping at Walmart, you know?
And so I love that there are more people doing direct marketing it’s, it’s exciting to me, and it should be exciting to the consumer because they get to experience food and a whole new.

Trevor: Oh, yeah. I mean, you literally get to see like the people that are making your food, where it’s grown. I mean, especially if they visit your farm, like you’re talking about like doing, um, agritourism.
I mean, I think that’s so fun. Like you can literally go there and you can say, Hey, that guy was going to be a steak that I’m going to eat, and it’s a couple of months, like you can, you can connect them. And, and I think that the closer the farmer and the consumer are like the healthier both are going to be.
I mean, you can take out that middleman. So it’s going to be cheaper. It’s going to be healthier for [00:37:00] you. It’s you’re probably going to eat less processed stuff if you know where your farmer is and if you’re like, you know, buying produce or something from like a farmer’s market or something. I mean, I think it’s a winning idea.
So it’s kind of been this, I guess, a success thanks to the pandemic. Like, because there’s been this necessity of like pitch of pivoting a little bit. And so I think it’s been kind of like a win-win

Jared: for them. Yeah. Oh, totally. And I, like you said, like you could point out a cow and say, that’ll be a steak.
I’ll share just a brief story that I once made the mistake of not knowing my audience or my customer wants it. There was an animal that was just giving us trouble loading on a trailer for some reason, just it happens every now and then nothing uncommon or whatever. And I made the comment to the person.
Yeah. I said, Hey, your beef was dropped off at the butcher this morning. We barely got it on the trailer, but we got it on the trailer. And she was like, she knew, he knew like that. She was just like, and it was like heartbroken that she thought the animal knew what was happening and where it was going. And I was like, oh, I got to keep my mouth shut.
So yeah. I scared her a little bit broke her heart, I think. But yeah. Know your audience know who’s interested in knowing exactly what their stake will be. Cause some people don’t want to look at that cute calf and know there’ll be eating it next fall.

Trevor: Yeah. That’s true. That’s funny though. I mean, that’s one of those things where you’re like, oh my bad.

Jared:
Yes. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

Trevor: That’s so funny. So I know, I know something going on now is like this whole push for sustainability. So like sustainability paying closer attention to our environment. So have you learned a whole lot of what ranchers are trying to do? And I know like crop rotation and there’s a bunch of stuff, ranchers that are doing the tech to kind of address sustainability that normal, like consumers don’t know about.
And so what have you noticed, like kind of interviewing all these people? Are there any. Very successful sustainability practices going on.

Jared: Yeah. So I could list practices all day. Cause like there’s so many ways that people are doing this. I’m not, but I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the [00:39:00] soil health principles, if you’ve ever heard of those or are not.
Um, gay brown is kind of an originator of this idea of the soil health principles. And I just was interviewing someone else earlier today for my podcast who rattled through them like a pro. And I told him whenever I try to rattle through them, I’ll butcher it completely. And I know I’ll forget what. But I’ll give it a shot.
Um, the principles are diversify, you know, as much diversification as possible diversification of plant species, animal species, wildlife species, maybe. Had diversity monocultures are not diversity, so increased diversity. That’s the number one soil health principle. And in any order of these might be, uh, minimize disturbance, disturbance, both tillage, chemically, you know, minimizing disturbance in, in, in any way that you can.
Um, because. Wasn’t disturbed by a big plow regularly or chemical and stuff, uh, green and growing plant as much of the year as possible. This one’s really cool because one of the best things that we can do for our soil is build carbon, build organic matter in the soil. And we build organic matter through [00:40:00] photosynthesis.
The more plants that are growing the longer they’re growing and photosynthesizing, they’re pumping carbon into the soil. That’s great. It’s advantageous, you know, let’s do as much of that as possible. So, so that’s, that’s one. Uh, now here’s where I, I know the fifth one livestock integration, because when you look back at nature and stuff, bison, elk, mule, deer birds were an integral part of nature and wildlife.
And so livestock integration was the other one. Um, and I knew the fourth one, I’m going to totally forget which I knew I would and stuff, but these principles. Uh, you, you kind of asked about print practices, uh, you know, a practice, like for example, no, till may or may not work on one farm versus another.
Um, but a principle like minimize disturbance, if that’s the principal, you know how we apply that in any farm can be different or integrate livestock can be different on every farm. And so all of these principles need to be applied within the context of an individual’s farm. Uh, if that makes sense, and these are kind of the things that I work with.
When I, when I, uh, go for my job for the soil health or the sustainable farming association, that soil health lead is I go to farms and I say, here’s these principles that are proven to improve soil. Um, let’s figure out within your, your context on your farm and your given environment, how we can apply these principles as best as possible.
Um, Yeah. And I, and I just looked up on my phone here to see what the other principal was. Cause it was bugging me and that’s just keeping the soil covered. Um, whenever there’s exposed soil, I mean, there’s research out there that shows when soil temperatures hit like a hundred, 120 degrees or something, biology starts dying and it’s dead.
Biology likes temperatures like we do in the seventies and eighties and stuff. And so we need to keep our soil covered to protect it from the sun and the heat, as well as from wind erosion and rain erosion. That’s pretty neat too. I have a little thermal thermometer kind of gun thing that they, you know, check your temperatures with and stuff, but, uh, uh, if you do.
Just pointed at the soil surface when it’s shaded [00:42:00] by grass or something growing, you know, if the air temperature is 80 degrees, that soil temperature might be 70 degrees. But even if the air temperature is 80 degrees exposed soil, the soil temperature might be 110 degrees. It can be way hotter than air temperature.
And so we it’s so important to keep soil covered. Those are the five soil health principles and how people are applying them all across the farmer or across the country are different everywhere. You know, people are playing, doing no till strip till in wetter areas so that they can still do a little bit of tillage to dry out the soil.
But they’re using that, uh, in, in agriculture and grazing, you know, rotational grazing as a way of keeping soil covered and keeping plants growing and integrating livestock. I mean, cover crops. There there’s ton of different ways that we’re practicing, implementing these principles, but those five prints.
Applied within your context is the main way that we can build soil. And it is pretty cool to see some of the impacts. I mean, in our farm, on our farm and in our state here in Minnesota this year, we had one of the driest years, since a lot of people talk about 1988, the drought of [00:43:00] 1988. And. I was fortunate to be able to get out on farms all around the state and see people who are implementing certain principles that by no means made us, you know, immune to drought, but made resilience to drought.
And we, a lot of individuals fared better than their neighbors because of certain management practices that they’ve had. And it was really, you know, an awful. Experience. I mean, it was depressing sometimes to see this drought impact people. I mean, it was pretty sad, but then to see at least that some people fared a little better than others by implementing different practices.
It was really.

Trevor: I bet it was. And I think that point that livestock management is a part of the solution is really important that a lot of people aren’t paying attention to. Um, I saw a study a few years ago. I can’t remember what it was, but I’ll have to look it up, but basically I think he was in the UK. Um, they compared grassland, that was just grasping. At, with grassland that had livestock on it, it was like rotationally graze. The livestock grassland captured countless, like so much more carbon than the regular grassland. And they’re like, this is obvious. Like we need to kind of have livestock working in.
W with the soil to help produce or to help combat sustainability and stuff like that. But you have a lot of these people that are like anti livestock and they say livestock is causing it when they are literally part of the solution. I mean, you look back. I think like 100 years of robot, like 3 billion bison in the United States or something like
Jared: that.
Yeah.

Trevor: They were never the cause of climate change. I mean, nobody ever said that. I mean, but I think to say that livestock needs to be stopped, which w like a lot of opponents are saying is absurd because they are definitely part of the solution, which I think is very, very interesting. And I think more and more people need to realize.

Jared: Exactly. I mean, you’re so right. And I just kind of a neat thing that we’ve seen on our farm as we’ve [00:45:00] solely picked up, you know, another farm or something in 2014, we got an 80 acre farm down the road that was in CRP for 15 years conservation reserve program. It sat idle in grass for 15 years, essentially.
Biologically dead. I mean, that soil was, there was nothing there. Grass would hardly grow once we got in livestock on it and started implementing some of these, you know, these, these, uh, practices and principles, um, that farm is now way more productive. I mean, so it’s awesome. And to your point about like being able to sequester more carbon when grass is just, it grows up, I mean, cool.
Season grass is the done. Grass species now in the upper Midwest and stuff way up here. There’s a lot of cool season grasses that grow really fast in may and June. And if you don’t do anything with it, they’ll grow up. They’ll go to seed, they’ll get mature and they’ll die. And then they’ll lay flat and smother out future growth.
So there’s really no more. Growing green and growing plants the rest of the year. And those green and growing plants are what’s photosynthesizing and [00:46:00] capturing carbon. And so an animal comes through and kind of acts as like a pruning tool, sets it back and keeps it vegetative and keeps it growing and allows that plant to continue to photosynthesize throughout the whole summer.
And you can, you can have a plant photosynthesizing. Pretty much, as soon as the ground thaws out, it’s amazing how quick some of this grass starts to bring it up and growing until well into the fall. We’re still photosynthesizing today out at our farm and stuff here, even though the, you know, the nights are cold and, and so, yeah, livestock are incredibly important to that process.
Yeah. Appreciate you saying that, sharing that if you knew where that study was, you should, I’d be curious to read it.

Trevor: Yeah, I need to find it. Um, there’s an author that has a book out. I think it’s called. Oh gosh. What is it? Sustainable dish, sacred cow, sacred cows. Name of the book.

Jared: I have listened to part of the audio book, but I’ve not finished it.
Okay. Yeah.

Trevor: I mean, not that put you on the spot. So I bought it months ago. I still have not read it. I really need to read it because I want to have her on the podcast. Um, but she really talks about it. How like livestock and ranching [00:47:00] cows are literally the answer to help the food system to help the planet.
And it’s not the main cause. And so I think that’s super. Important and, um, yeah, I mean, she had, there’s a, there’s a documentary out and I think almost had Ron Swanson, but the guy that plays Ron Swanson in parks and recreation narrated it, Nick Offerman, he narrated it. Oh, that’s nice. Yeah. That’s why I want to watch it just to hear his voice.

Jared: Yeah. Yeah. Right. I, uh, I haven’t, I think, yeah, there was supposed to be a documentary that went along with the book and I have not seen it, so I’ll have to look for it.

Trevor: I haven’t, I don’t know what it’s not, I don’t think it’s on Amazon or Netflix or it’s probably on one of those obscure documentary places or something.

Jared: Yeah.

Trevor: awesome. So what’s the future of the podcast? What’s the future of herd quitter? I mean, obviously you wanna interview more ranchers out there to kind of see how they’re quote unquote quitting the, her and doing something different. So it’s.

Jared: Yeah. I mean, it kind of just like you saying, carrying on hope, hope to keep interviewing more people.
What I would like to do that, I mean, challenged I’m [00:48:00] challenged in the amount of time that I have is, is build a more engaged following listening. You know, I I’d like to get more engaged on social media, start getting more. Listener questions, stuff like that. So that I can ask specifically, you know, if I have a guest lined up for two weeks from now, I’ll put out what do you want to hear from them?
Kind of a thing or something like that. I’ve just been so limited in time that I haven’t been able to really do that. I’m not sure if that’s something you do or not, but yeah. I struggle with that, but that, that for sure, I want to get more of what my listeners want. I like to joke sometimes that this is my podcast.
I’m asking the questions I want to learn, but it is important to me too, for the listeners that we get, get them, uh, the, in their questions answered as well. And hopefully just continue to grow it and have more people learning. I mean really what the goal of it was is to share what I mean, these people I’m interviewing are finding extreme success in their businesses, by doing some of these things.
I mean, really big success and the story of ranching across the country. Right now, there’s a lot of pretty [00:49:00] gloomy stories and stuff that people, people need, some something to change. And I’m just hoping that this gets out there. It gets in front of them. They can take a listen to some people and maybe learn something different and change, turn their story around.
And so that. They have a better life and future generations on their ranch might have a better life that, that maybe wouldn’t have been possible if they didn’t. So that’s, that’s the goal. We’ll see where, where it goes.

Trevor: Well, so spring boarding off of that a little bit, I mean, obviously if somebody wants to learn more about ranching and how to diversify their operation, I mean, obviously listen to their herd quitter podcast.
Um, but what are some other resources out there that you might recommend? Um, maybe somebody like somebody like kit Farrow or somebody else, what are some resources you would advise people to use?

Jared: Yeah. So the podcast or kit Pharaoh, Pharaoh cattle.com is a great resource. There’s blogs and things out there that that kit Feroz shares all the time.
It’s Farrow cattle.com. He’s got a newsletter that goes out once a week. And if you buy a bull, you get on his discussion group, which is an [00:50:00] amazing resource of thousands of people across the country who have bought bulls, who are just constantly cheering. Asking questions, sharing ideas from a wealth of knowledge of ranchers all around the country.
So that’s, that’s one. Um, as far as books and things like two books come to my mind is my favorite books. And one of them is dirt to soil. By gay brown, gay brown has an amazing story. Uh, in North Dakota of going through four years of total failure, crop failure and things that forced him to look at things differently.
I mean, he had hail, hail drought hail or something like that. And just right after he bought a farm, total crop failures and stuff, and it forced him to do things differently. And he is now one of the biggest names and kind of regenerative ag and sustainability. And it talks more about those soil health principles that I addressed earlier.
And then my favorite book now, after reading it is the turnaround a ranchers story by. Dave Pratt. That’s like a business book that has so much great knowledge packed into a book. That’s just totally [00:51:00] readable. I mean, I, I read through that love and it tells it and kind of a story format of a ranch family.
Learn this at helping another family who’s needing the help. And so it tells it in a format that’s very readable, but it’s great content and a, and a great book. So I would check out those books for sure. Um, podcast, the working cows podcast is a great one. Um, I love clay Connery and what he’s doing in his podcast.
He’s kind of one of the big reasons that got me to do a podcast in the first place. So, uh, I would recommend that as well.

Trevor: Nice. I am going to add them on here. Making some notes, those sound like really good books. I have heard of the working cows podcast. I haven’t listened to it, but I’ve heard a lot

Jared: of really good things.
Okay. Yeah, totally great. One clay does a great job. Um, and yeah, it was funny when I first learned what podcasts were I remember is at a wedding and somebody said, oh, you can do the podcasts. You should listen to podcasts. Like from that, that day, I just like searched. I got a podcast app and I started searching [00:52:00] cows, cattle, ranches, like trying to get as much cattle podcasts and working cows is one of the first ones I found.
I’ve been listening to it ever since. Just, just great, great podcasts. That’s awesome.

Trevor: I’ve found it. There’s a lot of, um, there’s a lot of great ag and farming podcasts out there, but a lot of them are super focused on one particular topic. And that’s phenomenal. I mean, like if you’re a dairy ranch or if you’re a dairy farmer or, um, like a beef cattle ranger, like there are numerous podcasts out there specifically for you.
Um,

Jared: It’s cool. Cause I didn’t know, like, I didn’t know how many listens I’d have no idea how many listeners, the working cows podcasts get and stuff, but he’s doing it still after a few years. So I was just like, you know, I dunno. I mean, if I get 10 listeners, is it worth it? I mean, is it a hundred lists? I don’t know how many listeners I have to make a do worth, but it’s pretty actually cool.
How many people out there, you know, will listen to such a specific podcast? Like you say, cause they are very specific. I mean, my audience is very limited. I’m not going to get someone from the city other than my aunt in Rochester. Shout out to [00:53:00] Cindy. She still listens to these. I appreciate that. Uh, yeah.
Uh, not many folks are going to listen to this who aren’t involved in the industry. That’s. Um,

Trevor: yeah, I mean, and that’s just the way it is. I mean, I feel like there’s a lot of people that, I mean, they find the podcast, they hook onto it and they just want to listen to it over and over again, like learn some stuff about ranching or about farming or about networking or whatever.
I mean, yeah. I feel like only few people can pull off the broad podcast ones like a Joe Rogan, but because they already know. That exposure really? And so they don’t have to be super focused. I mean, they can cover basically whatever they want and they’ll get

Jared: millions of downloads. But yeah, that is what it is.

Trevor: t’s been the weirdest thing like the past year. I think our downloads have been down just a little bit, but word of mouth and feedback from friends and family and random people on the internet has gone up. And so I’m like, this is weird, but I like, I like it. Like, this is good. Like we were getting like a decent number of downloads and we weren’t getting like any feedback or anything, but now I’m like, this is weird, unexpected, but great. So you never know what to expect on this. Podcast world journey

Jared: for sure. Well, I don’t know where you were before versus now in your skill, but you’re very talented guests or interviewer so far.
So probably quality has gotten to the point where you get lots of good comments. So keep it up. Well, thank you.

Trevor: I appreciate it. Yeah. I, in the beginning, I would always like, after a guest would say something, I would always be like, oh, that’s really cool. That was like my word filler. And so now anytime I do an interview, I have like notes pulled up and I have it highlighted, do not say that’s really.
And so it’s all I guess, adapting and learning to do the good things and not to do the bad things, but you definitely learned through doing.

Jared: Yeah. And that’s the beauty of editing is I edit out a lot of my filler words. I ended up the guests as much as I can to it, but I ended out my own. So I don’t sound like I’m saying the same thing over and over again, because I’m the same boat, same boat here.
So

Trevor: do you, do you find it painful to listen to [00:55:00] yourself while you’re editing? Because I, I can never listen to myself in the edit. I’m like, God, just, just keep talking. Like it’s, it’s not painful, but it’s just like

Jared: annoying. I would say the only reason it’s not as, because I’m listening, like, did I make myself sound stupid in this statement?
Like, that’s what I’m listening for. I try to try to do my best to pull that out. So

Trevor: Hey, there go. I mean, every, usually during an interview, if I’m interviewing somebody that’s not on podcasts a lot, I’m like, Hey, the, the podcast is made in the edit. Don’t worry. If you mess up, I can edit it out. I will probably mess up.
Um, but yeah, the worst edit though, I had to do, I, it was like the first one of the first 10 episodes. I think I had this farmer in south Florida. Um, and he was starting a tractor mid-sentence and I love sharing the story because he was starting it. And I couldn’t hear a word that he said, and I was like, dude, can you redo that please?
And so I had to go back and edit it out.

Jared:Cause it was, it was hilarious or like not do field work while we’re doing a podcast, please.It was so funny.

Trevor: I had, I mean, it’s funny what you’ll get, you’ll hear dogs in the background and sometimes, or you’ll hear people in the background, you’ll hear a fan or phones going off all the time.
You just, you honestly never know what you’re going to get. It’s it’s pretty bad. Have you had any, any happenings

Jared: like that? Just earlier today? I was my wife and I. Yeah in the hospital, actually the last couple of days for my, my son and we were out late and I ran to my mom’s house to do this podcast recording with somebody that I’ve been really excited to interview, but had been putting out, trying to been struggled to get scheduled for months.
And so I was like not missing this random, my mom’s house. And then in the middle of that, my stepdad came home and his dogs were barking and he walked in and like started tromping through the living room and started doing dishes. And it was like, you could hear it all on my end. Luckily I can edit out my style.
Yeah. So. 39 episodes or whatever. And I, I still can’t, uh, instill can’t do unwell yet, I guess, but I did get home for this one. So you don’t have to deal with those issues. There you go. Hey,

Trevor: it happens. It’s all struggle. All struggle. I mean, [00:57:00] that always just makes the episodes

Jared: more. You. Yeah. Yeah. I agree.
Hopefully the listeners agree.

Trevor: I mean, as long as I listen to a degree, that’s good. If they don’t, then that could be no bueno we’re there. This has been awesome, man. Chatting with you learn about all that you do about the herd quitter podcast. Um, if people want to follow you follow the podcast, obviously it’s herd quitter.
It’s on, um, apple podcasts. It’s on Google. It’s on Spotify and a bunch of other podcasts
Jared: players. Yup, yup. Yup. It should be everywhere. Most people listen. So. It’s like, well,

Trevor: where, where else can they go to kind of follow you guys and see what you guys are

Jared: doing? Yeah. I heard quitter podcast.com or heard quitter podcast on Facebook, Instagram, or you can follow me Jared lumen on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Um, I kind of link through all those things as well, but yeah.

Trevor: Deal. All right. Well, Jared, I appreciate it, man. Good luck with the podcast. Oh, and also I forgot to mention this. I absolutely love your logo. I think it’s awesome. The bowl, the very simple [00:58:00] text herd quitter with the microphone in it. It’s, it’s a beautiful, simplistic logo.
And I think there aren’t nearly as many podcasts out there with a really good logo

Jared: and here’s just one of them. So I appreciate that. Thanks so much. I had a great, great person put that together and stuff, but thank you. Thank you so much,

Trevor. Really appreciate being on.

Ep 126: Moomers Homemade Ice Cream

Moomers Handmade Ice Cream is home to the best ice cream in Michigan and I can attest to that! It’s also approved by the President of the United States! Today on the show, I chat with Jon Plummer about his family dairy business, how it started, and how they do everything on-site in terms of milking cows, processing the milk, and selling it or turning it into some great ice cream.

Jon (Left) and POTUS (right) with the ice cream.

Check them out at the links below:

Moomers.com

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

  • Background of Moomers
  • Start of the dairy and ice cream
  • Why Holstein cows? Volume of milk!
  • Processing milk on site.
  • What goes into creating flavors?
  • Thoughts on farmer/consumer relationship
  • Traverse City is the Cherry capital of the world!
  • President Biden’s visit

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

coming soon!

Ep 122: Killing Weeds with Lasers!? – Carbon Robotics

There is really nothing more futuristic than lasers, right? My first thought goes to the Death Star when I think about it. Now, imagine a Death Star…but for weeds. That is the subject today as we chat with John Mey from Carbon Robotics. John and the team from Carbon Robotics are developing an autonomous weeder that uses lasers to zap weeds into oblivion. How awesome is that?!?! John and I also chat about his background, deep learning, the future of ag tech, and much more.

Check them out at the links below:

Carbon Robotics

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

Show Notes

  • John’s background – Aerospace to AgTech
  • The next-generation Autonomous Weeder, a 10,000-pound autonomous robot that utilizes high-power lasers to eradicate weeds
  • Deep learning
  • CO2 lasers
  • How accurate is the tech?
  • Can it work during all growth stages of plants?
  • Will this replace jobs or help reduce inputs and create more opportunities for workers?
  • How can this help fight climate change?
  • What has the response been like?
  • Are tech like this and driverless tractors the future?
  • What has been your biggest struggle designing this?
  • What about your biggest win?
  • Thoughts on farmer/consumer relationship?

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

Transcript

May or may not be 100% accurate. Transcripts are close!

Trevor:
All right, well, john may Welcome to farm traveler podcast. How are you doing?

John:
Very good. Thank you.

Trevor:
Thanks. So you’re, you’re with a super cool company. It sounds like carbon robotics. And we’ll talk about that in a second. But kind of tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of how you got started working with carbon robotics.

John:
So my education is in mechanical engineering. And then I’ve been doing robotics for a super long time. Most recently, I was working at a company up in Muckle to that provided robots for Boeing and Lockheed Martin and all those guys to build their airplanes to basically fasten the skins to their substructure. And when Paul reached out, he, you know, his background is software. This is our founder and CEO. He was looking for somebody to do the hardware. So when I found out about its mission, it matched with what I’m, I’ve always been wanting to do, you know, something better for the world. And better for, like humans, basically. So I jumped, like, right at the first chance.

Trevor:
That’s cool. Yeah. So I looked at the website, and basically the whole thing with carbon robotics, it’s a 10,000 pound autonomous robot and basically eradicates weeds using lasers, which, I mean, is super neat. So you’re talking about it’s better for the world. So kind of, what was the inspiration behind it behind this weed here? And what was the whole process of kind of developing it toward is now where you guys have actually got, like the full system going. So what was that whole production process? Like?

John: 4:39
I guess so. You want to start from like, Where did the idea come from? Sure. So our CEO, Paul, he wanted to start a company, you know, he’s started a bunch of tech companies that did really, really great. And then he went over and worked at Uber for quite some time on their AI and deep learning. But he wanted to get into robotics, it was just like this realm, he hadn’t been wanting to do it. So he was gonna sell his airplane, and basically focus on that. And he ended up selling it to a farmer. And that farmer and him started talking about, you know, if they were to do something in farming, like what would be the most helpful thing. And they looked at a whole bunch of different aspects to farming, and found that weeding is like the number one pain point, you know, it’s a huge cost for their, their operation, both in conventional and organic. And so they kind of looked at what’s out there, you know, they saw other, basically cultivating robots, and said, Well, we don’t want to do the same thing as everybody else. So let’s figure out a way to do this, like, using deep learning and using whatever crazy new technologies are out there. And I think they just maybe stumbled upon the idea of laser reading, and then it just took off from there. So it was pretty cool. And they basically had a laser on a on a wood cart. And then they’re like, Can you make this, you know, shoot the ground. And so we got some mirrors, started practicing aiming. And it was like, pretty clear right away that you can kill weeds with places.

Trevor:
That’s so cool. Yeah, I mean, right now it’s so it’s so pricy to spray pesticides on the course, I mean, it’s not the best for the environment depends on what you’re spraying. I mean, depending on your crop, you might have to spray over and over and over again. And so what I mean, what kind of like lasers is using, I mean, I’m imagining it’s not, you know, like your death star laser, where it will blow up everything in this path. But so how powerful are these lasers that are kind of destroying those weeds.

John: 6:47
So these are the same, this type of lasers, a co2 laser, so the glass tube, that’s basically co2 gas, but some other gases like helium. And you run electricity through it, and it excites photons to exit out one side, they bounce around inside this thing, and there’s only one way out, so you can aim it. And that is 150 watts. And so this, this laser could be used with some different focusing elements to you know, cut steel, or aluminum or wood. But we d focus it to help with our accuracy killing the weeds. And it takes, you know, 250 milliseconds, up to 2000 milliseconds. So two seconds to kill a week. Oh, wow, that science. Okay,

Trevor:
so what, what exact part of the weed is targeting like the leaves or the root structure? What exactly is the target?

John: 7:42
Yeah, we originally started by basically doing this, like, you know, quote, unquote, eraser mode, where we would basically burn the entire weed. And we just found that to take way too long. We talked with some biologists that University of Washington and learn that you really just need to kill the Mary stem. So there’s, you know, the undifferentiated meristematic cells, basically at the center, like if you look at a generic weed, like pig weed, you can see it, it’s directly in the middle. That’s where new leads are coming up and out.

Trevor:
Okay, gotcha. And so what’s kind of the average? Do you guys have like an average per acre on how quick it can destroy weeds and an acre of area?

John: 8:25
Yeah, so roughly, you know, you could say, like, half an acre an hour, up to like, two, depending on the weed density. You know, if it’s a, if it’s a field, that’s crazy weedy, like, they didn’t control the season before, and it just got out of control, you’re going to be on the lower end, like half an acre now. But if you’ve done a good job, but you just tidying up the field, you can go, you know, two acres an hour or so.

Trevor:
Okay, that’s pretty good. So how exactly does? How exactly does deep learning kind of play a role into this, because when I’m imagining the whole system is learning what a weed looks like, because of course, it’ll be bad if it targets the actual plants and destroys your whole crop. And so how exactly is deep learning playing a role into that?

John: 9:09
So the kind of like, go to analogy for me, it’s, you know, like Facebook, if you look at your pictures on Facebook, it can identify your face, or maybe it identifies like your brother, and it’s like, is this you know, Ashton. So, it does that by getting just a ton of examples. And so that’s what we do when we get to a new region or new, you know, new crop, we get examples of it. He really only takes about 100 images, which is actually pretty amazing because there’s, that’s, that’s solely due to like our CTO, Alex, Sergei, who’s just one of the country’s best deep learning guys. He also came from Uber. But you know, we get 100 pictures, like day one, and then we label this is, you know, pigweed. This is pursuing those types of weeds, and then we’ll look We’ll label this is spent, you know what click actually where those things are for about 100 images. And then we do a thing called training, basically, you’re just reinforcing the algorithm to make choices along the way that ended up in the result of this is a weed, this is the crop. And then as we go, you know, continue going on that farm will keep getting images and keep pushing those to get labeled. Just so we can keep learning. But really, it takes like two days for us to go into new crop, which is really incredible.

Trevor:
Yeah, that’s really quick. So it sounds like I mean, it’s still learning. I mean, it’s not like you just upload those first 100 images. And it’s done. I mean, it’s still collecting images and still learning.

John: 10:48
Yeah, and like when we’re in production, we’re sampling the field, you know, to get an even distribution. So, you know, in case there’s some specific weed at the northwest corner.

Trevor:
Okay, so how exactly does this whole autonomous wieder work? Like? How often does it get sent out? Is it completely autonomous, like you set a time for it to go? And then how does it get its power? And kind of all that good stuff?

John: 11:12
Yeah. So above the lasers, if you look at pictures, like there’s basically white cabin inside there, there’s a 74 horsepower, Cummins diesel engine, that’s how you feed a diesel, it’s got enough for 24 hours of operation a little more, just so that, you know, the idea was you touch it one time a day. And then that drives a generator for all the power for the computers, lasers, all that. And then has a another PTO shaft that runs a hydraulic stack. And so all of our motors, we have four wheel drive, they’re all hydraulic. And then we have some steering actuators that are also hydraulic. And then, so you’re asking about, you know, how does the How does daily operation look where they’re most of the time, somebody from carbon, because we’re honestly just moving so fast, and going into new crops and new regions that were there to check its performance, make sure it’s killing all the weeds that are out there, and not shooting any the crop. But as far as the autonomy, it’s, it’s going up and down the rows by itself turns around at the end of the rows. sets, it’s it’s more of a supervisory function. In some places like California, actually require you to have somebody in the field, they don’t actually allow fully autonomous things yet. Oh, really? Was that? I mean, it’s, you know, kind of, like, why you don’t have for self driving cars yet? Yeah, that’s, there’s some risk associated. And so they, you know, they’re not comfortable with that on public land, you know, because the robot could easily, you know, in theory, go past the farm, you know, up the field and into a road or something. So they just, they want eyes on it.

Trevor:
Okay. No, that makes sense. So, I know, I’ve seen pictures of it, it looks like right now it’s kind of, for smaller crops. So how can this work for I would say, maybe like a corn or something that’s super tall. So Well, I mean, what’s the plans there? I mean, can it work for taller crops like that? Or is this just kind of for something kind of a little bit lower to the ground?

John: 13:27
Well, we’re primarily focused on, you know, specialty crops like onions, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, all that kind of stuff. But in theory, there’s no reason that can’t work in corn or soy, or, you know, wheat, especially in the early stage where it’s most important to do the weeding. Because that’s, you know, like, that’s the time when the crop is really competing with the weed for nutrients. And once it gets to a certain size, it’s shading out the ground. And so that’s where we kind of don’t need to continue bleeding. We may learn something as we break into those different crops that could encourage us to, you know, come up with a different model that was specialty made for tall crops. Okay.

Trevor:
Yeah, that makes sense. That’s pretty cool. And yeah, I mean, that’s such a good point. Because especially like right after these plants are either planted or transplanted. I mean, that’s when they’re really going to be in danger of like weeds overtaking them. But once you’ve got like a crop like corn, you’re usually going to be good from weeds. I mean, usually. So I know when a lot of people see technology like this, they instantly get scared that’s going to replace jobs. So I mean, how do you guys view is this here to replace jobs or to reduce inputs? I mean, and also with this, you’re creating more jobs for like you and everybody a carbon. And so what’s your whole viewpoint on that?

John: 14:48
Well, to begin with, it’s not replacing jobs necessarily because there’s a labor shortage in farming, you know, so we’re actually supplementing and giving the farmer Some sustainability, you know, and reliable, like, just the reliability in their operation. As far as some of the jobs like the hand laborers that are in the fields, we’d like them to transition to more operating machinery type jobs, like the supervisory function of watching the robot. body and also creates a whole bunch of tech jobs since in Seattle, and which is nice, because it’s good to see. Tech going into something like farming, not just, you know, making like a new Snapchat app or something. Oh,

Trevor:
yeah, absolutely. I’ve seen a bunch of videos on like, super, super small scale organic farms where they have like this. It looks like a hospital bed, kinda. And the person will lay flat on it, and they’ll crawl around. Oh, yeah. Have you seen that? Oh,

John: 15:50
yeah, totally. It’s actually a really great idea. Yeah,

Trevor:
no, it’s a good idea. But I mean, of course, that would be like, nearly impossible to do for like 1000 acre farm. And so this, I mean, this technology is basically that on a larger, larger scale,

John: 16:03
right? Yeah. And our, I mean, a real, real goal here is to help eliminate chemical usage. And that’s not that’s not you know, replacing anybody’s job. Yeah, exactly. I could be replacing the chemical click Next.

Trevor:
That’s true. But I mean, they’ve got millions of dollars they can find someone else to do. I mean, so do you see like technology like this as the future because I know right now, I think it’s case Ah, are they’re developing like driverless tractors? So you’ve got driverless tractors, autonomous weeding machines? So do you think tech like this is going to be the future and ag?

John: 16:40
I think it makes sense. Because there’s just in every, like, job title in farming, there’s a labor shortage. So tractor drivers, hand readers, you know, everybody, I think, if we don’t do things like this, we’re gonna be in trouble with being able to sustain, you know, the country’s food supply. We’re the world’s rather. So it just makes sense. Like, the technology is here, you know, it’s, it’s just making sure, on our end, that we listen to the farmer and, you know, give them what they need.

Trevor:
Hmm. I like that. And speaking of that, I mean, what’s the response been, like, from farmers where you’ve used it on their on their land? I mean, has it been good? Have they been? Have they had any, like, very helpful critiques about it?

John: 17:28
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s been really cool to see it, take off the way it has. I’ve run most of the demos. So we’ve done a couple seasons of like, full season weeding, and onions, you know, in New Mexico and Eastern Washington. But about three months ago, we realized that basically, every farmer wants to see it in their field in their crop. And so we had like demo days, but they’d come see it in Washington, but then they’re like, well, I need to see it in carrots, you know, in California to believe you before buying it, we’re selling equipment, we’re not doing leasing or like, pays, you go, like per acre model. And I started doing demos in California and breaking into crops, and it was just like, as soon as they saw it in their field and invited, like, they immediately go and invite all their co workers, like all the, you know, higher ups of the farm, the decision makers, if the if I’m not already talking to that person, and then it’s like, basically, the conversion rate from demo to sale has been really high. We’re basically sold out for 2022 as well. Oh, wow. Like, in addition to this year, it’s being done. Which is great. We’re getting, you know, the kind of adoption that we were, we knew that this was going to be the situation. So it’s good to see that, you know, happening.

Trevor:
Yeah, and that’s great that I mean, once you’re doing those in person demos, I mean, people can see it on their property, doing their crops, and they have that sort of buy in from there. So that’s awesome. There’s been a good conversion ratio.

John: 19:12
Yeah, I mean, their eyes light up. This is like, most of them are like, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Huh? Yeah, good.

Trevor:
Yeah. No, that’s awesome. And so I would love this so I don’t have a farm. I’ve got a yard. What do you think like maybe in the future, there could be a much smaller scale version of this like going around your yard and taking care of weeds? I mean, do you think that might be something that might come of this maybe in the future?

John: 19:40
We’ve toyed with the idea like my my dad’s asked for one, you know, you can just a handheld shooter version, you could go around instead of spraying chemicals. We’d have to figure out the safety of it. You know, having a person hold a laser is a lot different than a robot with them aiming only down. You know, like, that’s where we get our safety. It’s gonna happen, like, as a hobby project at least. And we’ll see how feasible that would be.

Trevor:
Yeah, that’d be super cool. I mean, I know that I’ve seen my sister has sent me a snapchat of her neighbor. In Germany, they have like, it’s like a Roomba, but it’s a lawn mower. And so it just goes around their yard. Oh, yeah. Adding up everything Aparna does that right? Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I thought that was super cool. And so I’ve often wonder, like, when are we going to have those big weeders? Kind of like how you have but on a smaller scale? Or maybe even do you see maybe one of those farmers going to take that big system home, and they just let it do their yard or something? Of course, not in a commercial area, just like, on their home, or something.

John: 20:42
I’d say goodbye, like, especially with the weight, you’re gonna lose your grass.

Trevor:
You might get rid of your weeds, but you’re definitely gonna be able to see where that thing went. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, what’s been the biggest struggle during the whole development of this kind of getting people to get on board with lasers? Or the technology behind it? Or maybe the r&d? What’s been the biggest struggle?

John: 21:05
Well, I think, I think it would be the fact that like, the tech is just getting to the point where it’s capable of doing this, like the computers and the the cameras, and the gold and the lasers. I mean, those have been around for a while. But none of them were designed for a farm environment. And so we’ve, I mean, we’ve gone through, like, more iterations than I thought you would need to, but it’s good that we moved so fast and broke so much stuff, because we learned how to like ruggedized, you know, a computer with eight GPUs in it. That is like, you know, pretty expensive and sensitive to vibration, shock, heat, you know, but we’ve broken everything in every possible way and found how to not break it anymore. I mean, the tubular glass, they’re about six feet long. Oh, wow, about, I think 80 millimeters in diameter. So what’s that, like? five inches, four inches. And so you can imagine that being pretty brittle, right? Like that long of a thing. And so just, yep, we froze the tubes. Before we figured out we needed antifreeze. And just a ton of it’s been good, because our CEO, Paul has pushed us super hard to get into the field, like, day one, you know, we kept taking prototypes out there, breaking it, fixing it, making the new, we basically were always in this stride of, as soon as one is coming out of the fab shop. We’re like designing the next one. Like, it’s no, no delay.

Trevor:
That’s awesome. Yeah, I didn’t even think about that. I mean, cuz like you’re saying, like a farming environment is going to be, I mean, pretty tough, pretty unforgiving. And of course, you’re gonna have all this tech in there. So what’s the repair? Like? I mean, can you guys record repair these things pretty quick, or is there a lot of downtime involved.

John: 23:07
So by doing all this prototyping, and breaking things, we’ve learned which components, you know, could break. And the tubes are the number one thing. But not only can they they break, which they don’t, this is the possibility. And there’s so many of them. That we wanted it to be really easy for the farmer to replace. So we made everything like that, like the lasers or the computer, or, you know, all of our little packages. Everything is really nicely packaged and self contained and modular. So it’s like, we just hired a VP of sales and his first time out of the demo. Out of seeing the robot demo. I just had him replace it to. I was like, let’s see how easy this is. I didn’t tell him how to do it. He just opened the hatch. Okay, so there’s water to water lines to power lines. And then you just flip a little latch and pull it out. Put a new one in, takes like two minutes.

Trevor:
Oh, that’s not bad. Yeah,

John: 24:10
so I mean, you know, mechanical engineers, especially from the company that was previously do a pretty good job if they know something, you know, could be needing replaced, making it easy to replace. Because most of the time, especially in like startup world, you’re going to go and fix your own shit. So you just, you know, you go through those pains.

Trevor:
Yeah, that’s kind of different from what you hear about, I mean, different large scale startup companies like a Tesla to where you know, they’ve got, of course, the whole right to repair thing, but replacing their stuff or fixing their stuff is super duper complicated. And then you have people online like di wires, they’re like, it doesn’t need to be this complicated at all. And so it’s good you guys have made it. Super simple to replace. Biggest things, which are, I mean, super tech savvy, super advanced, but still pretty, relatively easy to replace and fix?

John: 25:08
Yeah, you know, I don’t I really don’t necessarily understand the reason for locking people out of that kind of stuff. It’s definitely not our philosophy we want. I mean, if the farmer can replace it, like, you know, immediately without having a cause that’s way better for a product and then let you know that the outlook on our product?

Trevor:
Yeah, I mean, even like companies like john deere, I mean, they have the whole rent repair thing and that going on. So I mean, that’s something that you guys are definitely beating the multimillion dollar companies that so that’s good to hear. Um, so what do you think about, I’ve seen more and more ag tech startups like this kind of booming in the past decade? And so I mean, what do you think kind of started that, like just kind of Silicon Valley, and everybody started to want to have their own impact on the environment? And all this new technology came out? What do you think kind of inspired all this? And ag tech?

John: 26:02
Yeah, I think it’s driven by like, the fact that, in general, I think people want to do stuff that’s, you know, good, like, in general, good for the earth or good for people or good for their, you know, friends. And I think tech, maybe got so heavily involved with, like, maybe stuff that’s a little less important. You know, like, making some app that doesn’t actually increase. Like life, you know, happiness. So I imagine there’s just a lot of people that were like, you know, I want to do something good. And there’s all this tech coming out, deep learning and all that stuff. And farming is just, you know, I think farming has always been innovative. Like, if you go to a farm, you just see like, 10,000 new different things. And so from mechanical engineer standpoint, that sounds like a lot of fun. You know, designing stuff like that, especially because farmers are so sure, like, they’re okay with a little bit of risk. And so these things can look like death traps, like most of the stuff on a farm. And then I think from the software side, like I said, I think it’s just people wanting to do something. Good.

Trevor:
I like that. So did you do you have like an agro farming background? Or is this kind of all kind of new to you, when you when you started this, or when you joined it?

John: 27:45
It was totally new to me. And I’ve loved the journey of like learning about farming, because I don’t think I would have ever gotten that experience just living in Seattle working at a you know, aerospace automation company. Shea Meyers always jokes about you know, the, the buyer who asked to sit on the entry or whatever. I love that. I always think about that. But um, I have spent a significant amount of time at the farms. And I just really enjoy talking to the farmers, and just seeing all the varying ways they can do their, their operations. And they’re just super good people. Like, I haven’t met one farmer didn’t like that, like they’re so willing to, you know, jump in a truck with you. And show you their farm for like, four hours to talk about stuff. Yeah, just yeah, at the drop of a hat.

Trevor:
That’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, that’s quite a big shift from aerospace to kind of working in the ag tech world. So has it made you think more and more about kind of, like, where your food comes from? And have you thought any more about it? Like when, whenever you go to churches or anything?

John: 28:54
Absolutely, yeah, and I mean, I’ve, I’ve always kind of lean towards organic, and I definitely go for organic when I can now. But I also try to encourage, like, my friends, you know, understanding of farming, so I take billion pictures, and I explained things to kind of show them like the pains that farmers, you know, go through. So yeah,

Trevor:
that’s cool. I like that. Yeah, I mean, that’s a fun, we went to, we went to a chocolate farm in Hawaii, and we actually interviewed them on the show. And I mean, they were super nice. They give us like the behind the scenes tour of everything. So I mean, it’s just cool. When you finally meet the people that make your food, it makes it that much more relatable. And you’re like, Hey, here’s the people behind my food. I didn’t tell my friends about this. And so I’ve been trying to tell all of my friends and family about them and they’re starting to buy their chocolate so it’s cool. I mean, it’s just like those little personal relationships kind of bridge the gap between farmers and consumers, which is pretty cool.

John: 29:54
Yeah, I love I love going for, you know, let us that is from a farm. I’ve been to That’s a weird feeling. I don’t think most people, you know, I don’t think most people in the country probably know exactly where the food’s coming from.

Trevor:
Oh, yeah, yeah, no 100%. And so do you think like for farmers that uses technology? Do you think they might be able to use it for their marketing? Like, hey, we’re using we’re reducing spring, we’re using autonomous leaders. Here’s how it’s helping the environment.

John: 30:22
Absolutely. I had this idea to have like a laser weeded sticker that they could put on their produce, either on either on the bag or on like the apple or whatever. And have that be kind of something that like, society goes for instead of and knows that, that means there’s no chemicals, or at least no herbicides used?

Trevor:
Yeah. No, that’s such a good idea. I mean, could something like this kind of work for pests? Also, I mean, if you might have, like a pest outbreak, you can maybe use something to where it targets just the bad pests for a crop?

John: 30:57
There’s no reason it can’t. Yeah, we’ve had farmers ask us about different types of beetles. And we know the deep learning cannot detect it. But instead, a lot of time to figure out how much time like no laser time you would need to do to kill whatever beetle. But I’m sure we’re gonna be doing it at some point. Yeah, I mean, I can ask for it.

Trevor:
I can imagine just like little turrets on top of this autonomous weed, or where like, as the bugs fly by and just kind of zap them. I mean, that’d be pretty cool. Be a little deadly, but it would look pretty badass.

John: 31:29
It’s super fun to watch. Like, I’ve spent, I don’t know how many hours behind that thing, walking in looking at the lasers running, that if you look at our YouTube, it’s just so cool. Like, it looks like a little light show.

Trevor:
Oh, that I haven’t looked at the YouTube yet. But I’m gonna have to go look at it and just kind of see what that looks like

John: 31:47
that yeah, it’s it’s insane to watch it work in like the high density crops like spinach and chards. Because you can’t even see the weeds a lot of the time, because it’s so dense, but the robots seeing it and using that super, you know, surgical laser to get in between and kill the weeds.

Trevor:
Now all about precision, I mean, a lot more precise than just blanket spraying chemicals, whether it will crop Yes, or spray or anything possible. It’s cool. That’s so cool. Well, john, this has been awesome, man. If people want to learn more about carbon robotics, where can they go to learn about you guys and kind of see how the whole developments going for the autonomous leader?

John:
Yeah, so we have a really great website, carbon robotics comm that’ll link you over to like, YouTube, and all that kind of stuff, Twitter, Instagram, and on the website, you can click, you know, contact us. And I read a lot of those, and then I’ll reach out and, you know, if somebody’s looking to do a demo at their farm, we’ll we’ll do that set that up, or invite you to a demo nearby.

Trevor:
So Are y’all pretty much available around the US? Or is there any particular area y’all focus more on,

John: 32:54
we are focused for the 2022 season, or basically the entire year for West Coast. We’ve got customers in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico’s kind of our farthest. And we’re probably going to wrap that up, so that we can build out that support organization, that’s going to be the most critical thing for the next year. We have technology that works. We need to make sure we support it well, and the farmers are happy. But 2023 will probably break into Midwest. And then I think plan is to go international after that.

Trevor:
Oh, awesome. Well, that’ll be exciting. I mean, yeah, I can’t wait to see you guys. Take over the US and I can’t wait to see more of these on farms. I’m gonna start looking at YouTube videos now. And I’m gonna look at that video. So that’s I think this is I mean, super neat. It’s the perfect blending of agriculture and technology. I mean, it’s a problem we’ve had for years and such a great answer to it.

John: 33:52
Yeah, there’s just so much like tailwind you know, like, it’s good for the planet. It’s good for humans. Farmers love it. You know, our customers love it. Everybody wants to work here because it’s super cool. It’s badass. We’re working on a laser weeding robot?

Trevor:
Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s awesome to hear that every day.

John: 34:09
There’s there’s like, I can’t find a problem with with the situation. Yeah.

Trevor:
Well, that’s awesome. That’s good to hear. I’m glad you like it. I’m glad you like this job. I think this is super cool. Well, we’ll have to touch base with you guys soon. Maybe 2022. Whenever you guys are slowly growing. We might have to touch base with you all again. But thanks so much for coming on the show, john.

John:
Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

Trevor:
Again, thank you for listening to this episode with john. I was wanting to include some laser sounds in the intro, you know, because I thought it’d be kind of fun and kind of cheesy, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t utterly ridiculous and really corny. So now. So anyway, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, if you learned a thing or two, maybe you’re new here. Consider leaving a review on Apple iTunes. That helps us out ton. I think right now we’re sitting at something like 69 ratings on Apple, which is phenomenal. So if you haven’t already, please consider leaving us a review. Or if you’re on a platform like Spotify or Google podcasts, consider sharing with a friend or family member. organic growth really helps us reach a whole lot of people and a bigger audience for this show. And we can help people learn more and more about where their food comes from. So thank you so much for supporting the show and we’ll see you next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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!

Check them out at the links below:

Babe Farms Website

Click here to subsrcibe to the show

         

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.  

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

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,
 
Created with Otter Basic Plan
Transcription is up to 40 minutes per conversation.
Upgrade to get the full transcript.
Upgrade to Pro
 
 

Rate transcript quality

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

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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

 

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?

Be sure to follow us on social media!

https://www.instagram.com/farm_traveler/

https://www.facebook.com/TheFarmTraveler

https://www.youtube.com/farmtraveler

Subscribe here:

https://podkite.link/FarmTraveler

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!

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.

Farmland Investing with FarmTogether

There’s always been three people that I consider “Reliable financial advisors.” My dad, my grandpa (my dad’s dad), and Jim Cramer. The former two have dabbled in the stock market for decades and have seen pretty decent returns. Jim Cramer on the other hand is well known investment guru (and a hilarious one at that). These guys have been a wealth of knowledge to listen to. However, none of them knew about the prospect of farm land investing and how it is much more stable and often safer than stock market investing. Now one company, FarmTogether, is making investing in farmland much easier than ever before.

Recently, I sat down with FarmTogether founder and CEO, Artem Milinchuk, to talk about farmland investing and how FarmTogether is making it a much easier process than ever before.

So why invest in farmland?

First off, why would someone want to invest in farmland? As Artem mentioned in our podcast interview (check it out below), available farmland in the United States is shrinking due to increase in population. Obviously, with an increaes in population, we will need more food than ever. It’s estimated in the next 20-30 years, we will increase world-wide population by 2 Billion people. That’s 2 billion MORE mouths to feed, three times a day, everyday. That’s a lot more food needed than what we produce now. So it seems that farmland value will continue to go up as more farmers are either growing their operations, starting new ones, or even consolidating. With investments in row crops and even specialty crops like apples, and IRR (annual rate of growth an investment) anywhere from 7 – 20%, farm investment looks like a stable and very lucrative investment for any portfolio.

So why FarmTogether?

FarmTogether offers an all-in-one tool to invest in farms across the United States. While other investment sites only offer certain areas, FarmTogether allows you to pick any crop and any location around the country that is part of their extensive listing.

They also do their research when adding farmland to the platform. Using their state-of-the-art technology and curating process, FarmTogether only adds sites with real promise of delivering decent returns for your investment. The farms selected often practice sustainable, regenerative production methods with promises high quality soil and high quality produce. These production methods are growing in terms of populatiry with consumers, so farmers are staying on trend to capitalize as much as possible, both of profit and for environmental reasons.

Also, this isn’t some process where you invest and never hear from FarmTogether. They encourage investors who are looking at starting an account to contact them with questions, comments, concerns, etc. There are also wonderful resources on their website that offer more details on what the investment process is like and much more.

If have been thinking about diversifying your portfolio, I encourage you to check out FarmTogether. It’s a great platform that not only helps farmers, but also investors. Their easy to use site and resources take out the intimidation of investing.

Check out FarmTogether.com or our interview below!

Ep. 93: How FarmTogether is Changing Investing

Curious about learning more when it comes to investing? What about investing in farmland? Then you will find today’s episode very helpful.

This week I sit down with Artem Milinchuk, founder and CEO of FarmTogether, an online investment platform that makes investing in farmland as simple as it’s ever been. In our interview, Artem will explain why farmland investing is usually safer than the stock market, what returns are like, and how a reduction in available farmland might lead to greater profits for investors. Be sure to check out FarmTogether at the links below!

Check out FarmTogether at the links below

FarmTogether Website

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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

Show Notes:

  • FarmTogether
  • Artem Milinchuk
  • Farm land investing basics
  • Why farmland investing is a safer bet than stocks
  • Investment returns
  • Long-term vs short-term investments
  • Investing strategies
  • Process of farms selection with FarmTogether
  • Availability to US/International Investors

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. 92: What Makes this Hawaiian Chocolate Special?

Just in time for Valentines day, let’s talk about chocolate!

My guest today is Daeus Bencomo, from Lavaloha farm in Hawaii. Today, Daeus will walk us through chocolate production, from cocoa bean to chocolate bark, the role volcanic soils plays in giving their chocolate a unique flavor profile, and how their farm tours are a huge hit with tourists.

Check out Lavahola at the links below

Lavaloha Website

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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

Show Notes:

  • Lavahola Chocolate
  • Growing chocolate on the side of a mountain
  • What is “single-origin” chocolate?
  • Growing in volcanic soil
  • Harvesting cocoa beans and turning it into chocolate bark
  • History of chocolate
  • Difference between dark, milk, and lite chocolates
  • Farm tours
  • COVID-19’s impact on the farm
  • Misconceptions on farming

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. 91: Boyd Farms Fresh

We are continuing this unintentional streak of meat companies by interviewing one a bit closer to home here in the Florida Panhandle. Boyd Fresh Farms is a 7th generation farm that specializes in beef cattle. Recently, the Boyd family has transitioned to selling direct to consumers here around North Florida. For those familiar with the Boyd name, you might remember Alan Boyd, the former State and US congressman is owner and operator. He, along with his wife Jeannie, daughter Suzanne, son David, and David’s fiancé Kelly, are continuing the tradition of this family farm will transitioning it into a key sector of the food supply chain.

Straight to consumer business are booming now in the age of the pandemic, and with we have seen just how frail the food supply chain is. Now, more farmers and ranchers are doing the work of processing and distribution to keep their food closer to home and costs down for themselves as well as the consumer. This change in supply is huge and has the potential to change the industry as we know it.

This week, I sit down with Alan and Suzanne and talk about the history of Boyd Farms Fresh, transitioning the business to selling direct, and if Alan prefers working with cattle of politicians. This was a super fun interview and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did recording it.

Check out Boyd Farms at the links below

Boyd Farms Fresh Website

Listen to the episode on the apps below:

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

Show Notes:

  • Boyd Farms History
  • Suzanne and Alan’s backgrounds
  • Types of Beef Cattle
  • Inspiration being consumer direct business
  • COVID-19’s impact
  • Bottleneck of U.S. livestock processing
  • Farmer/consumer relationship

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!