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How to Sell your Produce and Microgreens to Top Restaurants | Episode 3 - Wilson Gibbons (Farm.One)

In our 3rd episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMU9hNId0jQ&t=) we chat with Wilson Gibbons, sales manager at Farm.One - One of the most unique and innovative vertical farms in the country that grows for top Michelin starred restaurants in NYC. He gives the best sales and marketing advice so you can get your foot in the door at restaurants.

Do you have or are you thinking about starting a vertical farm?

Do you want to know how to get your produce and microgreens into some of your top local restaurants?

Then you need to watch this episode!

Thanks to Wilson for taking the time and sharing his knowledge and insight. If you have further questions you can reach out to him at wilsonrgibbons@gmail.com.

Also, thanks to everyone who asked questions for this interview across Facebook, Instagram and Reddit. I tried to fit as many as I could into this interview!

Interview Timestamps

  1. 0:54 - How do you make first contact with a chef? (Facebook - Margo)
  2. 1:50 - When to try and talk to a chef.
  3. 3:07 - Research a restaurant’s menu.
  4. 5:04 - The most common rejections from chefs.
  5. 8:27 - How do chef’s value variety vs. scale and consistency? (Reddit - upcycled_gourmet)
  6. 11:41 - How important is pre-washing microgreens before delivery? Is there a preferred packaging style or method? (Reddit - frankfromacnl)
  7. 14:34 - What about growing medium in kitchens? (Facebook - Dyanna)
  8. 16:06 - How did you figure out pricing?
  9. 20:27 - Everyone goes after restaurants. What do you think of targeting the places where people need it the most like retirement homes and hospitals? (Instagram - Steven)
  10. 21:13 - How often do restaurants typically order?
  11. 21:57 - How do you handle payments?
  12. 22:23 - Any major issues that happened and how you went about resolving it?
  13. 26:10 - What should you grow if limited on space?
  14. 27:33 - Any other tips or advice?
  15. 29:30 - How to target smaller restaurants.
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In this second episode (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIyAS8OR4Ns&t=), Albert interviews Mary and Electra, founders of Green Food Solutions based out of the Bronx, NY.

They are helping others start and maintain local, urban farms utilizing the tower garden aeroponic system. We talk about how they got started, what you can grow in tower gardens, costs of the system, and challenges they faced when starting their business (as well as starting an urban farm).

If you want to learn more about them check out: http://greenfoodsolutions.com/

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My interview with Dr. Paul Gauthier is finally finished! Super excited to share it with you all. We talk all things hydroponics/vertical farming and take a tour of the current vertical farm inside Princeton University. I promise it's worth the watch. =D Big thank you to Dr. Gauthier.
https://youtu.be/IEb_r6IT5iE

--------------------------------------------------

Future Farms and Food is a new vlog project I've started. It aims to educate and bring further awareness to current and future farming practices/technologies. If you would like to be on the show or know anyone who you think would be a perfect fit, let me know!

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Super excited and honored that we got featured on this list!! =D Link to the article.

Here's the excerpt from it:

While it seems to many to be a fairly new technology, growing plants hydroponically is actually an ancient system dating back to the hanging gardens of Babylonian and Aztec cultures. Used intermittently through the ages, the technique of growing plants in soil-less environments was perfected in the 1940’s. The last three quarters of a decade has brought a tremendous amount of technological growth to the science, advancing not only commercial hydroponic growing systems but also developing systems which are easy to use and manage by home growers or small-scale operations. Hydroponics, as well as so many other facets of agriculture, stands to benefit greatly from technologies being developed and introduced to the industry. These 10 companies are making huge strides with their hydroponic innovations.

VegBed

One of the largest recurring costs for hydroponics growers is replacing growing media as it breaks down in the process. Some kinds also leave behind residue that needs to be continuously cleaned out, or promote fungus and bacteria growth (rockwool and cotton cubes are notorious offenders). The founder of VegBed set out to find a better solution that was clean, easy to use, and wouldn’t break the bank.

VegBed seedling foam is a perfect way to germinate plants, which then allows them to be easily transferred to a system of choice after germination. Their current focus is on their Grow Cube product, but the company is looking to integrate related growing products into their company in the future.

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I gave an introductory talk about hydroponics at a NY AgTech Meetup event last summer. If anyone is curious or wants to know more, I've uploaded the slides so that you can take a look. Also if you have any questions on anything, shoot me an email (info@vegbed.com) or leave a comment. Cheers! =)

 

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Let's Go Back a Bit

Hydroponics has the stigma of being solely used to grow marijuana. Every time someone asks me what I do/what industry I'm involved in their initial reaction is to say, "you mean weed?!?" I'll then give them a chuckle and explain how it can also be used to grow vegetables and other produce.

Even though hydroponics has been around for quite some time, it still surprises me how foreign of a concept it is to the general public. In an effort to help those who may not know much about the subject and to refresh those that already might, let us delve into the world of water farming!

Hydroponics might have first been introduced in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon circa 8th century B.C.
"Guys, did you hear? Bob still uses dirt. Ha! Loser."

We aren't 100% sure of this since there is no evidence that the Hanging Gardens ever existed. If they DID however, it might have been likely they used a form of nutrient film technique (N.F.T.) to water their plants (I will cover this topic in a future blog).

Now, the first written evidence dates back to 1627 in a book written by Sir Francis Bacon entitled Sylva Sylvarum. I've tried to read excerpts from it, but Ye Olde English is darn hard to read and understand. 

Fast forward a few hundred years, where in 1929 a man by the name of William Frederick Gericke of UC Berkeley started to advocate "solution culture" for use in agricultural farming. He grew tomato vines in his backyard with his method that towered up to 25ft. tall! The term "hydroponics" wasn't coined by him until 1937.

Unfortunately, the school and many of his colleagues were skeptical of his methods and found it no more beneficial than soil growing. If only they knew how much pollution traditional soil agriculture causes. Alas, we'll discuss that another time. (P.S. - It's A LOT)

In the 1980's NASA created a research department and facilities devoted to growing food hydroponically in space. They are continually growing and experimenting to this day. Two main reasons why hydroponic farming research is important:

1) There is no gravity in space, thus you cannot just place soil in a pot and put water into it. The soil would get everywhere!

2) Shipping food with astronauts is heavy and thus cost prohibitive. Being able to shed as much weight as possible for a launch is critical. If they are able to grow their own food instead of taking it with them, it would mean lighter/cheaper flights into space.

*3) Quality of Life (not mandatory, but would be nice). Ahhh, nothing like crisp, fresh lettuce in space. For astronauts, who only eat freeze dried or vacuum packed food, this would be wonderful. None of that stuff is fresh and probably tastes bland as hell. Fresh produce could boost moral from mundane eating AND convert the carbon dioxide back to usable oxygen! Win-Win!

Is that you Matt Damon? But don't you NEED soil to grow plants?

NO, as long as you can provide the plant with a solution of proper nutrients, it can grow just as well, if not better. This is one of the main misconceptions people have about plants. Soil farming is obviously the most common and most used practice still in existence, but that has led the general public to believe that it is the ONLY way.

In a hydroponic system you are directly feeding the plants in a more efficient and eco-friendly way. In the next post I'll discuss the key benefits of hydroponics vs. soil farming. 

 

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VegBed Hydroponics Blog by Albert Lin - 7M ago

We are super excited to launch VegBed and finally give growers a clean, easy to use medium that won't break the bank. The VegBed Seedling Foam is a perfect way to get your plants started. You can easily transfer them to a system of your choice after germination. Let's start growing and remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. #myvegbed for your chance to get featured!

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