The Chef’s Garden Experience
Recently, ODA’s Division of Food Safety team took an educational tour of The Chef’s Garden in Huron County, Ohio.
Bob Jones Jr., Co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of The Chef’s Garden, was kind enough to show us around the farm and greenhouse. Bob leads the farm’s team in research, food safety and food quality.
On our tour, we learned that the family business began more than 30 years ago when Bob Jones Sr. and his two sons, Lee and Bob Jr., harvested and packed produce weekly to take to Cleveland farmers’ markets.
Over the years, the Jones family has tailored their business to the needs of chefs, creating unique produce that looks good, tastes good and is good for you. Bob Jones will tell you that flavorful food is a requirement for whatever they are growing.
The farm focuses on rebuilding soil naturally rather than chemically; conducting seed, soil and plant testing; using trace-back and food safety programs; and rediscovering unique and heirloom varieties.
The Chef’s Garden sells to chefs in all 50 states and multiple countries, growing 600 different items including heirloom vegetables, micro herbs and greens, specialty lettuces and edible flower blossoms. They have a diverse clientele from home deliveries to foodies who want seasonal produce fresh off the farm, to world renowned chefs like Thomas Keller, to their largest customer Walt Disney World.
As a part of the tour, folks from ODA were able to visit the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI). The CVI was opened by the Jones family in 2003 for chefs as a culinary retreat, research and teambuilding facility. The institute features a fully loaded kitchen, dining area, sleeping quarters for chefs and their staff, and a library.
Located just a few miles from the farm itself, visiting chefs can experience The Chef’s Garden planting and harvesting methods, pick vegetables themselves and return to the institute to experiment with the produce they harvested fresh from the farm.
We hope you enjoyed a peek at our tour! For more information on The Chef’s Garden, visit http://www.chefs-garden.com/.