Selling to Chefs: Overcoming the Logistic Challenges

Farm fresh chef's vegetables

By Adrienne Cohen

Whether you call it farm to table, locally sourced food, or a hyper-local food revolution, today’s hot trend is toward buying ingredients that are produced closer to the point of consumption. We have seen the growth of craft beers and local wineries, the explosion in popularity of local farmers markets and regionally-produced cheeses, pick-your-own orchards and vegetable farms. Numerous pop-up dining venues and eateries with limited menus feature only seasonally-available options, and their numbers increase every day.

It’s not only television chefs and fine-dining establishments that embrace the flavor, nutritional value and seasonal variety of foodstuffs and ingredients produced close to home; it’s also homemakers who frequent weekly farmers markets for organic produce and natural foods. It’s anyone who helps support a sustainable environment by buying from local farmers. And it’s the taste appeal of artisan bread, homemade jams and pickles, and local salad greens.

Reasons are diverse, ranging from distrust directed at big producers, recent food scares, flavor, freshness, GMOs and environmental concerns.

A Creative Collaboration

One-of-a-kind cafe owners, Mom and Pop proprietors, trendy food truck cooks and chefs who know the importance of fresh, tasty, natural ingredients have discovered the value of seasonal menu options. They recognize even more value in developing personal relationships with the people who grow and produce the food.

Rather than simply placing orders for ingredients that must be transported an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table, they get to know their suppliers by name and forge bonds that lead in innovative directions. They even suggest new crops on occasion, to the delight of growers who love to experiment.

Farmers who sell directly to restaurant chefs gain an understanding of the creative process of recipe testing and menu development. Not only is there a financial advantage for both, but the corresponding boost in respect becomes clear and well-defined.

The Logistics of Delivery

Delivering the goods, however, can represent a major stumbling block. Crop scheduling, farm recordkeeping and production management are tedious and time-consuming chores for a small farmer. Add time away from the farm to make deliveries and the business model can become untenable. Chefs, for their part, traditionally require a guaranteed order delivered on a regular timetable, a need that can be torpedoed occasionally by weather or pest infestation. Mutual understanding is key.

Almost 50 chefs throughout Dallas and Collin Counties now constitute a core group of food professionals who have taken the “seed to plate” concept way past the experimental stage. Profound Microfarms, a family-run farm in Lucas, Texas, a suburb approximately 25 miles north of the Dallas core, was the innovative catalyst. Jeff Bednar’s greenhouse hydroponics farm produces a variety of leafy greens, herbs and edible flowers, and during a past several years, since starting his farm, he forged relationships with a number of local chefs and restaurateurs. “We speak chef,” he says, noting that he enjoys learning from the chefs and responding to their requests for unusual produce, including edible flowers.

In April of 2018, Bednar and Nelson Carter of Cartermere Farms in nearby Celina teamed up to form Profound Foods, a farmers distribution company that now delivers products from about a dozen different farmers to chefs across a two-county swath of North Texas. The deliveries, made on Tuesday and Thursday, include a variety of different proteins, including beef, lamb, pork, chicken and eggs, cheeses, greens and other vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.

Goals and Long-Term Plans

“We want to raise awareness for local food,” according to Bednar. Across the country, there is ongoing interest in a variety of unique models for food hubs and farmer-directed coops to expand the availability of locally-grown food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture endorses the effort; Profound Foods is the recipient of a $495,000 USDA grant that will allow the venture to grow during the next three years. The plan is to add new farms, attract new restaurants, expand the delivery territory to nearby Fort Worth, purchase equipment, including computers and refrigerated trucks, and hire a full-time driver. The fledgling company has already brought on board a staff director of farmer relations. The future is bright, says Bednar.

While it may be rare these days for a chef to visit the field to select fresh produce or to personally pick a side of beef, restaurants throughout the country are partnering with small-to-medium size producers to satisfy customer demand for fresh, nutritious food. The details may differ from one region to the next, but a powerful collaboration is being driven by innovative growers and food producers who market and deliver directly to enthusiastic chefs and local restaurateurs.

We all become winners when the collaboration is successful.

It’s possible to taste the difference when the lettuce and tomato on your burger was picked that same morning, and conversation seems to flow more naturally at the local coffee shop when both chef and customer can greet a farmer who deliver eggs and bacon to the back door. If that was once the norm in small-town America, it may again become the standard for market farming in the modern age.

Adrienne Cohen
Adrienne Cohen

Adrienne Cohen is a full-time freelance writer with a passion for travel, good food, urban agriculture, school gardens, and architecture and design. She writes about them all and is happiest when her travel plans allow her to visit with farmers and educators, restaurant owners and chefs in far-flung places. Although her forebears were farmers, she claims to struggle with her own garden, but loves plucking fresh flowers from their stems and harvesting fresh herbs to use in new recipes. She is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association, maintains a couple of personal blogs and contributes to travel, agricultural and lifestyle magazines, both online and for print versions.

 

 

Sources

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/ten-reasons-restaurants-should-buy-local-foods-2888595

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/local-food-trends-for-restaurants-2888604

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-start-farm-to-table-at-your-restaurant-2888285

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/ten-reasons-restaurants-should-buy-local-foods-2888595

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/restaurant-trends-boost-sales-2888674

https://www.greenbiz.com/article/can-cooperatives-save-americas-small-farms

https://www.cartermerefarms.com/about-us.html

 

The Effects of Fertilizer Runoff

Runoff from harmful algal blooms

Fertilizer Use Revolutionized Food Production

Have you ever wondered why so many people are concerned about the use of fertilizer in agriculture and the impact of field runoff on the environment?  Let’s talk about it for a minute.

The use of fertilizer in agricultural practices revolutionized food production and helped to build modern society as we know it today.  From the big, industrialized farms to the little organic plots, most producers improve the efficiency of their soil by adding sources of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N, P, and K) to their cultivation practices.  These traditions have been in place since the beginning of modern farming and make it possible to feed the world.

A field can only hold as much fertilizer as its soil can capture.  Soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay.  Each of these structures have different sizes and qualities.  They mix together to form the soil’s texture.  This texture informs how a soil behaves: how crop roots develop, how much water the soil can hold, how well the field drains, and how much fertilizer can the soil structure hold.  Soil is only capable of holding a certain amount of nutrients based its structure.  Fertilizer compounds that are not contained and held by the soil structures dissolve into the water of the field and are carried away as fertilizer runoff.  It does not matter if the fertilizer is organic or not.  All added nutrients to soil have the potential to become runoff.

Lost Nutrients Increase Costs

Fertilizer runoff is a concern for both farmers and environmentalists.  Nutrients lost from fields are wasted resources for farmers.  These inefficiencies created unnecessary operational costs and limit the profitability of a farm.  The environmental impact of runoff is a concern for everyone in the community, including the farmer.  When the nutrients in fertilizer flow into local bodies of water, they can have damaging effects on local wildlife and water quality.

The nutrients found in fertilizers are not just good for crop growth.  They encourage natural biological growth as well.  Normally, more growth from fertilizer would be a good thing.  However, natural systems, like rivers and lakes, have a balanced ecosystem that keeps them healthy and clean.  When fertilizer leaves a field and enters these systems, the balance is thrown off.  N, P, and K nutrients are naturally present in these bodies of water in very small amounts. The concentrations found in field runoff are typically much higher than an ecosystem is used to.  Bacteria and algae grow extremely quickly using fertilizer nutrients.  As their population explodes, the quality of the water decreases.  The water becomes too toxic for fish and other aquatic life to live in the system.  Eventually, the water begins to stink, turn green, and become unsafe for humans to use.

Nutrients in Runoff Create Toxic Effects

The scary thing about this effect is that it does not stay in the local river.  All rivers flow to bigger bodies of water, and those nutrients travel with them.  As they flow downstream, more runoff from other fields is added to the river until it reached its end point.  In the United States, this is typically an ocean or one of the Great Lakes.  When all of the nutrients from all of the field runoff reach those big bodies of water, we see the same algae and bacteria growth we saw in the local river on a massive scale.  This growth is what causes large algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and on the Great Lakes.  The water surrounding these blooms becomes so toxic, so quickly that mass die offs of local fish and plants occur.  The blooms also make the water unsafe for humans to use or even touch in some cases.  This effect is commonly referred to as hypoxia.  It can cause problems at home and even bigger ones downstream.

In case you were curious about why so many people are talking about the problems of agriculture runoff, these are some of the reasons why.

Claire Haselhorst

About Claire:

I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Purdue University and am currently working on my doctorate. My research focuses on improving the productivity of small scale local producers and new farmers entering agriculture.  I believe that strong and clear communication between educational bodies and agricultural producers can provide the tools and opportunities to build a better tomorrow.

 

What Are the Requirements for Organic Certification?

By Susan Beal

As people worldwide understand the importance of taking control of their health, they are also taking control of their eating habits, and that is one factor that contributes to the demand for organic certification of food products. The growing demand for organic produce is one of the driving forces behind the surge in the number of organic farms. According to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, there are over 22,000 certified organic farms in the nation, and that count increases every year, if not more often.

The USDA has strict regulations regarding the use of the term “organic,” and how, when, and where the USDA Certified Organic seal could be used on farm-produced products, including food (dairy, vegetable, and animal), animal feed, and fibers that are used to manufacture clothing. Organic certification offers benefits to food producers and handlers in a variety of tangible and intangible ways.

  • It allows food producers (growers, livestock and dairy farmers) to charge more for their commodities.
  • Organic certification encourages support for local economies.
  • Organic certification allows vegetable farming operations to use the USDA certified organic seal in all of their marketing and promotion endeavors.

The Five-Step Organic Certification Process

The USDA Organic Label is a sign to consumers that the food products they are thinking about buying from any market farming operation, comply with the strict USDA Organic Regulations and the requirements of the National Organic Program.

Step One – Development of an Organic System Plan

The Organic System Plan lays the foundation for the entire organic certification process. Every operation – whether it’s a large or small farm, must provide government inspectors with a detailed plan that will show certifying agents how the farm plans to comply with all federal regulations.

  • The plan must address everything from how the farm goes about tilling the land to planting seeds (or transplanting seedlings that were started elsewhere) and harvesting.
  • The plan must also include a list of every substance (chemical or otherwise) that the farm intends to use and a detailed protocol for monitoring the use of those substances.

The plan must also provide details about all proposed recordkeeping systems that will prevent crops that will be certified as organic from mixing with or spreading into fields where non-organic vegetables grow. The Organic System Plan also requires a detailed outline of the manner in which the farm will prevent crops meant for organic certification from having ANY contact with forbidden substances as they are described in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

Step Two – Implementing the Organic System Plan Before Requesting Certifying Agent Review

The small farm must implement the Organic System Plan before the farm asking for an authorized certifying agent to review it. Certifying agents may come from a foreign, state, or private organization or company. All certifying agents have USDA accreditation. The primary role of certifying agents is ensuring that any organic farming operation and the products they grow or produce, meet the required organic standards as set forth by the National Organic Program.

Step Three – The Inspection Process

Certification is ultimately contingent on the results of the comprehensive inspection. This thorough inspection is tailored to the type of farm and the products or commodities that the farm grows and produces.

For a vegetable farming operation, the inspectors will conduct:

  • Field inspection
  • Soil condition inspection
  • Crop health inspection
  • Weed management protocol inspection
  • Insect and pest management protocol inspection
  • Seed starting system inspection
  • Diseased or contaminated plant disposal inspection
  • Water source and irrigation system inspection
  • Plan for preventing cross contact between organic and non-organic plants

Step Four – Certifying Agent’s Review of Inspection Report

The certifying agent goes over the inspection report and compares the findings with the information he or she obtained when they did the preliminary inspection. The certifying agent will also evaluate the risk assessment as it relates to the potential for crops to get contaminated from prohibited sources. The risk assessment will also include a list of every potential hazard that could cause contamination. But the inspection will also provide the certifying agent with information about the manner in which the small farm will deal with, control, or prevent the spread of infection.

Step Five – Farm Receives Decision From Certifying Agent

Once the certifying agent is confident that the vegetable farming operation complies with the required standards, the operation gets a certificate that includes a list of all the farm vegetable crops that can be sold and labeled as organic.

A continuing requirement of the certification process requires the farm to keep records of changes or modifications to its practices and procedures. The fact that a farm goes through the five-step process to get the organic certification is not a guarantee of continued certification. Maintenance of the organic certification is contingent upon the results of the yearly inspection to which every farm must submit.

The certified organic label is a sign to consumers that the fruits or vegetables they are buying were grown in compliance with the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program, and that the farm complies with the rigorous standards that the government poses on any farming operation that seeks organic certification. It may also help consumers understand the justifiable reasons for which organic food products almost always cost more – at farmers markets or in grocery or specialty food stores. See sources below for more details.

About Susan:

Author Susan Klatz Beal

Susan Klatz Beal is a full-time freelance writer and member of GardenComm – Garden Communicators International.  She is a self-proclaimed plant geek who enjoys the thrill of growing everything from succulents and native plants to exotic and tropical plants, every type of houseplant in existence, and fruits and vegetables. Susan eagerly challenges herself to try to grow plants in every possible way, including container gardening, raised beds, traditional soil gardening, and hydroponics. When she’s not writing or playing with plants, you’ll find her obsessively looking for ways to bring more hummingbirds to her garden and patio.

 

Sources

http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title7/chapter94&edition=prelim

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=3f34f4c22f9aa8e6d9864cc2683cea02&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title07/7cfr205_main_02.tpl

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=cc52cfc9697475f50089fc0e19484022&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title07/7CIsubchapM.tpl

https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/organic-standards

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=cc52cfc9697475f50089fc0e19484022&mc=true&node=pt7.3.205&rgn=div5

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/handbook

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/ActionUpdatePlanEnforcement.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Pesticide%20Residue%20Testing_Org%20Produce_2010-11PilotStudy.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOPOFPA.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/need-be-certified

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/becoming-certified

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/10/10/organic-101-five-steps-organic-certification

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/labeling

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/handbook/sectionb

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOPOrgChart.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/handbook/introduction

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/NOPOFPA.pdf

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/12/16/organic-101-what-organic-farming-and-processing-doesnt-allow

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/01/25/organic-101-allowed-and-prohibited-substances

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/national-list

https://www.ams.usda.gov/resources/organic-certifying-agents

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Pesticide%20Residu

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/need-be-certifiede%20Testing_Org%20Produce_2010-11PilotStudy.pdf

https://www.ams.usda.gov/reports/organic

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/10/10/organic-101-five-steps-organic-certification

https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/labeling

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/need-be-certified

https://www.ams.usda.gov/reports/tip-sheets-organic-standards

https://www.ams.usda.gov/reports/tipsheets-certification-guidelines

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification/benefits

https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Crop%20-%20Guidelines.pdf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AgnutSUQMc

 

Using Your Local Agricultural Extension Office

large farm fields

Farmers – familiarize yourself with using your local agricultural extension office and the resources it offers

Every farmer should be familiar with using their local extension office, the resources it offers,
and how best to use them. With the officiation of the Morrill Act of 1862 (signed into law by
President Abraham Lincoln, during some of the bloodiest days of the Civil War), land-grant
universities were formed by state governments in cooperation with federal instruction and
funding, as, “institution[s], that shall possess the means of affording scientific and practical
instruction in the various departments of agricultural husbandry.”

What is a Land-Grant School?

Like other universities, land-grant schools, (i.e. The University of Massachusetts
Amherst, University of Connecticut, Cornell University), have two primary goals which justify
their continued existence: Research and Education . But, unlike other universities and colleges,
land-grant schools have a third primary purpose: Extension . This means, not only do they use
their academic resources to illuminate and document new knowledge; and not only do they
accept official recruits into the world of academia in the form of students; but also they have a
third primary purpose and activity, which is, to propagate the fruits of knowledge outside of the
university, making them public for the benefit of everyone. In essence, the Cooperative
Extension System —the system which unifies the land-grant schools across the country—is, “a
non-formal educational program…designed to help people use research-based knowledge to
improve their lives” (Co-Op Research and Extension Services.).

Scientific Agriculture

But as a farmer, this knowledge is aimed at helping you the most. For, as was argued in
the Massachusett State Senate, January 31st, 1850 by Joseph T. Buckingham: “No country can
be populous and prosperous without attention to [agriculture]—and exactly in proportion to the
difficulty of securing ample returns from the simplest and rudest forms of labor seems to grow
the necessity of substituting art , and of enlisting the aid of science to guide the application of
means to attain the desired ends” [emphasis added]. In other words, the institution of land-grant
schools, is the government saying—( theoretically as the voice of the People) — “We want
farmers, and we want them to succeed. Here are the resources; made available to the best of
our ability to everyone on equal terms.” Of course, we always need to be demanding better
Government; we do that best by participation.

How can an Extension Office Help Me?

At the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, there are several programs that can be
utilized by farmers. There is a soil testing lab, a plant diagnostic lab, and several educational
programs—like Pesticide Education Training, Nutrient Best Management Practices—among
other services. Check out this resource for beginning farmers from UMass: Paige Laboratory – Office of Umass Extension

Paige Lab
Paige Laboratory Umass Extension

Getting a Soil Test

If you want to try using one of your extension office’s laboratory resources, consider
ordering a soil test, which will involve gathering twelve samples from a depth of six to eight
inches, randomly, from different spots in the soil you want to test and mixing the collection in a
cup. You can follow online instructions like the ones offered here, when you click Get A Soil
Test.

Specify Your Analysis

Sending in your samples, you will be able to choose different levels of analysis. For
example, a basic Standard Fertility Test ($20), “Includes pH, acidity, Modified Morgan
extractable nutrients (P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, B), lead, and aluminum, cation exchange
capacity, and percent base saturation.” The report will also include, based on information the lab
collects from your samples, “recommendations for nutrient and pH adjustment”. This will allow
you to make precise applications of fertilizers, nutrient amendments, and pH adjustments, not
wasting valuable resources, while creating the optimal soil chemistry. You can also spend an
extra $6 to add Soil Organic Matter or Soluble Salts analyses, or an extra $8 for a Soil Nitrate
analysis.

Conclusion: Agriculture, Both Art & Science

With all the knowledge and laboratory resources which land-grant schools offer through
their extension programs, knowing and using your local extension office can greatly improve
your utilization of a scientific agriculture. We all enjoy doing work by listening to our gut,
especially in agriculture, when having a ‘special touch’ can mean all the difference. But,
organized, systematic approaches in obtaining the greatest value from nature allows us to not
reinvent the wheel. We can be kind and thoughtful farmers—partnered with the Earth and all of
humanity—while at the same time using technology and knowledge, in the generations long
project of being the most prudent farmers we can be.

About Erik Vegeto

 

Erik is a student of Plant, Soil and Insect Science at Umass Amherst. He has a passion for restorative agriculture and environmental stewardship that drives him forward into new frontiers of thought. Erik loves to read, play guitar, and be creative. One day he hopes to have his own farm and write for a living.

References

Buckingham, Jos. T. “Concerning the Establishment of an Agricultural School.” Commonwealth
of Massachusetts, 1850.

Act of July 2, 1862 (Morrill Act), Public Law 37-108, which established land-grant colleges, 07/02/1862; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1996; Record Group 11; General Records of the United States Government; National Archives.

Co-Op Research and Extension Services.

What Plant Propagation Methods Fit Your Needs?

Plant grafts

Easy Propagation by Division

Since some plants have trouble reproducing on their own, humans have created plant propagation methods to help aid in asexual reproduction. The first main type of propagation that is the simplest to perform is division. It pretty much is as easy as it sounds. Division is a method where the plant is broken up into multiple parts. Herbaceous perennials (aka herbs, non-woody plants that live for more than two years) are the most common type of plant used in division, due to their root and plant structure. The process is quite simple- gently separate the crown of the plant that contains shoots and roots either by hand or using a tool. As long as every separate section contains these shoots and roots, then it’s ready to replant! Division is a great and easy way to expand your plant population and can be done successfully almost any time of the year.

Simple Propagation by Cutting

Another simple method of propagation is cutting. This again is as simple as it sounds! Research should be done beforehand on the type of plant you want to cut, to double check and make sure your plant can root from a cutting. To begin taking a cutting, remove all flower buds and flowers from the stem, so more energy can be focused on the growth of the roots. Take the cut as close to the stalk as possible in order to get all the essential growth parts. After taking the cuttings, either directly stick them in potting soil, (if you only have a few), or store the cuttings in a high humidity place covered in plastic to help reduce water loss until planting. Cutting is extremely simple and beneficial if you’re wanting to expand the plant population by just a few, but it can also be beneficial when wanting to store and plant the cuttings in bulk.

Intermediate Layering Propagation

Layering is a more difficult method of plant propagation but can still easily be done. Layering is when root development begins on a stem while the stem is still attached to the parent plant. This is beneficial if you have a plant that struggles rooting from seed, so in this case, they can root from themselves. There are many different types of layering techniques to fit your need- and they all have an extremely high success rate. Simple layering, with no surprise, is the simplest form of layering. In this process, a low growing stem can be bent, staked, and covered with soil. If the bend is done properly and is facing vertically, then the bend will induce rooting and thus a new plant will begin growing. This process can also be repeated in the form of compound layering, where several layers can result from a single stem.

Mound and Air Layering Propagation

Mound layering is used more with heavy-stemmed branches or with rootstocks of fruit trees and is a process where the plant is cut back in the dormant season, and then covered with layers of soil as new buds shoot.

The last form of layering is called air layering, which is a method used to propagate large houseplants or woody ornamental plants. A wound is created on the stem of a plant, then the area is covered with moist soil and wrapped in plastic. This creates a growth environment for new roots to grow! Once the covering is filled with roots, you can sever the stem underneath the air layer and pot to continue growth. Since layering is a more in-depth technique, research should be done on your plant first in order to know which method would be most successful!

Grafting in the Details

The last, most detailed method of propagation is grafting. Grafting is a way to join parts from two different plants and have them become one. (It’s basically surgery for plants). A common reason for grafting is wanting to grow a cultivar of a plant that doesn’t come true from seed. Grafting is an intense method of propagation used to create desirable traits in plants based on what the plant and farmer’s needs are. In this case, the scion of the desirable plant can be connected to the stalk of another until they grow as one.  There are many types of grafts, and they range in complexity. Grafting is a high leveled-skill, since vascular systems of the plants need to line up, and growing conditions have to be ideal. Experienced scientists or farmers can easily grow any plant they desire using grafting.

These main propagation methods, along with many more, assist farmers and home gardeners in their every-day lives by helping reproduce asexually and allowing for desirable traits of your favorite plant to shine through!

About Parker Greene

Although I grew up in the city, I found my passion lives within the farming lifestyle. I am currently a student at NC State studying agricultural education, where I spend most of my time learning hands-on with plants and animals. If I’m not found out at the farm, I’m usually spending time with family or at a sporting event supporting the Wolfpack.

Works Cited:

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/plant-propagation-by-stem-cuttings-instructions-for-the-home-gardener

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/plant-propagation-by-layering-instructions-for-the-home-gardener

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/grafting-and-budding-nursery-crop-plants

 

 

It’s Pumpkin Season!

Crowded pumpkin field ready to harvest on a cloudy Autumn day

This large, orange fruit (yes- fruit!) is typically associated with autumn and the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays. Pumpkins always remind me of cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and time with family and friends. Not only are pumpkins a fall staple in the United States, but they are also full of nutrients and are being used as flavoring in more and more food products. Read more to find out how pumpkins are harvested and how you can use them in some of your favorite dishes this season!

Continue reading

Sales Orders and Farm Production Systems for Vegetable and Flower Growers

Farm Sales Order Entry

The Sales Order Entry (SOE) function, also known as Customer Order Entry, is the Supply Chain gateway for external demand flowing into the farm fulfillment process, and ultimately to the production planning system somewhere in the back office. As technology slowly invades farm delivery processes, SOE has currently been relegated to the accounting function, with a manual hand-off to the back office. This makes sense in some measure because sales orders eventually become billing, and that is when money starts flowing, assuming the product flowed in a manner that made the customer sufficiently happy.

But increasing competition is going to change this picture substantially.

The back-office planning system needs to get the SOE delivery information sooner rather than later. And the back office needs to know in a timely manner if the delivery requirements are going to change or perhaps have already changed. Why you might ask?

If the product quantity and delivery timing is far enough in the future, the farmer may alter planting schedules. However, if the lead time is shorter, then harvesting and shipping schedules are the remaining levers to make it happen. But information and timing are very important.

To react effectively and efficiently to changing demand, the scheduling function must have easy access to the supply side, in the form of harvest schedules, and the demand side in the form of shipment schedules. If these two business schedules reside in different systems, one in an accounting system and the other in a spreadsheet, then the reconciliation process will require an individual to perform a manual comparison. And then both systems need to be updated with the changes.

And that is why farm production systems need to include SOE as part of the planning system.

What is the scope of this new visibility and how should it be presented to the scheduling function?

sales orders sales menu

For starters, we recommend at least 4 things:

Customer data including, as a minimum, the name and delivery address or addresses. We refer to this information as Cards.

Sales Order Doc, which includes the Sales Order Document Number, Customer Name and shipping address and Sales Order Type. Sales Order Type would be a value that distinguishes between Restaurant Delivery Schedules, CSA Delivery Schedules and other things such as Roadside Stand for example.

Sales Order Lines, which includes one line for each discrete product shipment quantity and date, within each sales order.

Shipments to Harvest Reconciliation Screen. This screen is the nexus of delivery schedules, harvest inventories and unharvested product growing in the field or greenhouse.

The reconciliation screen should bring together the following schedule inputs.

For a Specified Product Number: Arugula 

Inventory Input Type Quantity Date
All Unshipped Sales Order Line Detail Ship Quantity Ship Date
All Scheduled Plantings Expected Harvest
Quantity
Harvest Date
Harvest Feedback Actual Harvest Quantities Within Shelf Life Days of the current date.

All of the data displayed by the grid above exists in the control of the farmer. So the question for the Business Minded Farmer is:

Can you leverage the information you already possess, to make better business decisions?

Chris Trow, President ADAK Software

Chris Trow has been immersed in the application of Production & Inventory Management systems and techniques, and the design of computer based manufacturing planning solutions, for more than 20 years.  Worked in traditional manufacturing at General Electric as a systems analyst, software designer and project manager.  Transitioned to independent employment as a consultant for small manufacturers and developed a small manufacturing production and inventory management solution that is still in use today.

Chris discovered the need for a manufacturing solution for vegetable growers when joining the Roxbury Farm CSA in Columbia County New York, shortly after it was founded in the mid 1990’s. The current cloud based solution for vegetable and flower growers was implemented in 2013 based on the application used at Roxbury Farm.  BASc Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto Certified Fellow, Production & Inventory Management Master Industrial & Management Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.