• SFM Chef Alliance & Community Communications

On the Menu

On the Menu

Welcome to March! Spring is here, it's getting warm, there continues to be hope in the air as we turn the corner on the COVID pandemic! Cheers to our chefs, farmers, purveyors and restaurants who have managed to hang in and pivot to keep business going and growing until normalcy returns again. Bravo to our Snail of Approval recipient Chef and Restaurateur Niven Patel of Ghee Indian Kitchen Restaurant. If you're ready to venture out, add Chef Patel's new incredible, locally sourced, & safe spot to eat Mamey Restaurant to your list. Located inside THēsis Hotel in Coral Gables, I enjoyed an unforgettable meal with The Villages Grown farmer and fellow vegetarians Executive Director of The Villages Grown™ Jennifer Waxman, Director Of Operations at The Villages Grown (TVG) Adam Wright, and my husband carnivore Bob Dorfman. ALL the dishes were fresh, colorful and deep in rich flavors. Can't wait to head back again for another round of delicious cuisine! Congrats Chef! Executive Director and Visionary at The Villages Grown™ (TVG) amazing AG extraordinaire Jennifer Waxman is this month's feature. If you don't know her, you will now; how she built this incredible vertically integrated, 84-acre, Controlled Environment Agriculture (‘CEA’), year-round, produce growing operation located in Central FL. Don't Miss! For those of you who continue to order in, pick up curbside and eat at home, be sure to catch our recorded Slow Food Miami '20 IG Snail Social Lives MC'd by our Chef Communications Director Alyssa Bantle. Check out at our Instagram page. They were super fun, interesting and engaging @SlowFoodMiami. Slow Fish Virtual Don't miss the upcoming Slow Fish 2021 Virtual Gathering where our Board Member Sarah Curry serves on the programming team for the National Slow Fish conference. March = Annual Night Out If you who missed the last newsletter, it's March which usually mean our Annual Night Out to celebrate our Snail of Approval Awardees. This year we are on hold due to COVID but stay tuned. Plans are in the works for a possible virtual presentation or live event at a later date in the year. If you have any thoughts, please share with our President Michelle Benesch Until we meet again! Lisa Dorfman, MS,RD-Chef Alliance Director @TheRunningNutritionist MEET Jennifer Waxman Executive Director & Visionary of The Villages Grown™

How did you get interested in farming?:

Growing up, my mother grew (and canned) our food and subsidized what she didn’t grow by going to U-Picks, Farmers Markets. I was plant-forward and passionate about the farm industry from the start – it’s always been in my blood. I also have several family members in agriculture all over the east coast.

I have been in Hydroponics my entire career (circa '00). While studying for my MBA, I participated in a Practicum for a hydroponic operation. I then started my career as a Global Marketing Manager for the largest manufacturer of adjustable micro irrigation with a specialization in hydroponics.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world meeting with Farmers and seeing all types of greenhouses, specifically Controlled Environment Agriculture (‘CEA’). I fell in love with the industry and launched a specialty consulting firm in 2005. During this time, I co-founded Slow Food Orlando with my partner, Rebecca Miller who is my right-hand and still works with me today at The Villages Grown.

Our mission was, and still is, connecting the intersection between Agriculture and Wellness – of which, if you separate the two, we become ill.

What is TVG? What makes it so special?

We are the largest Hydroponic, Year-Round (365d/yr), Multiple Verticals), produce operation in the South. When we complete our production construction expansion, we will be the second largest in US due to the nature of which we grow and the diversity in our product line.

We pride ourselves on a Food-as-Medicine approach. We grow for nutrients, taste naturally follows and our shelf-life and quality are leading Best Practices in the CEA Industry (Controlled Environment Agriculture.)

We have obtained our Global Gap Certification which is the highest level of Agricultural Certification an operation can achieve with an emphasis on Food Safety and Handling Protocols.

The Villages Grown is positioned on an 84-acre footprint with 40 acres dedicated to vertical, indoor production. (*We gain about 8 - 10 acres per 1 acre horizontal as we grow vertically).

Currently, we are producing in our Phase I greenhouses of which will yield 7m++ Lbs. of produce in Year 1. We will double in size in Yr. 2.

As of today, we grow a variety of: Tomatoes (including Slicers and Heirlooms), Lettuces, Herbs, Cucumbers, Root Vegetables and Microgreens. We also have the ability to Contract Grow specific crops. We harvest and have product available the same day or next for distribution.

Where can we find TVG delicious Produce?

Currently, we are sold through retail grocery, hospital networks, Assisted Living Facilities and Restaurants, including Chain Restaurants and Restaurant Holdings Groups.

What are the future plans for TVG?:

We will be embarking on the largest Health Impact Study that has ever been done. The intent is to use science to prove that eating from a Local Food System, of which produce is grown for peak nutrients, while focusing on a plant-forward diet is good for one’s health and well-being. This study will include pre-, mid-, post health analysis to further back the study. We are gaining an army of stakeholders who are leading the wellness sector and whom have a commitment to the Food-as-Medicine approach.

As far as expansion, we are set to develop into other types of CEA growing including expanded hydroponic and aeroponic methodologies. We will also be tripling in size and adding a cut-processing division will also be in our near future. We also intend to cover the State of FL as far as distribution.

Contact info for chefs, restaurants, members for ordering product:

*We are launching an online Wholesale Buying Platform in March.

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