I am not sure if I have told you yet, but I am a horrible cook. Actually, that isn’t entirely fair, when I have tried my hand at a recipe it turns out well, I just don’t enjoy cooking so rarely find myself tinkering in the kitchen. When I head to the grocery store I push my cart around the perimeter of the store, knowing that is where all the good stuff lives. I fill my cart with loads of produce, having actually no idea what I will make with the ingredients but know that it is healthy. On occasion I have been known to detour on my way to checking out and have found myself in the freezer aisle throwing in a package of pizza rolls. Pizza rolls, you know the ones, the overly processed little bites of molten lava heaven. These things are my kryptonite, or at least a part of my kryptonite family. I head home and over the next few days I have been known to “dine” on the rolls while my produce turns brown with anger in my refrigerator.
My lack of skills in cooking is a huge part of my weight issue. I turn to convenience items such as frozen meals and……happy hours. Cooking is not easy for me, in fact it is incredibly challenging. This personal struggle with being able to throw ingredients together and create an edible meal has haunted me for years. It is because of this I have great adoration for those who are able to creatively cook food that is both nutritious and flavorful. I have had the pleasure of meeting a handful of chefs throughout my life and while I don’t fully understand their crazy choice in pants I do marvel at their artistic ability as well as their love to provide quality food to those around them.
It is with this adoration for Chefs that I eagerly pulled my car in front of the Farmhouse that is the administrative offices for The Chef’s Garden, located in Huron, Ohio.
What originally started as the Jones Family Farm has turned into a niche micronutrient garden focused on supplying Chefs from all over the world, some as far away as Hong Kong, with items that are difficult to procure elsewhere. In the 1980’s after a devastating loss of crops the family met a chef at a local farmer’s market who was interested not in the squash, but in the squash blossoms. It was a unique request at the time, but they were able to fulfill it and before long word got around and more and more culinary professionals were reaching out to them for unique and specific items.
A new business was born and is coming up on its 30th Anniversary of sustainable, eco-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable farming.
It is not an easy feat being economically viable, there is a lot of man power needed to run the Chef’s Garden. Their 300 acres are farmed by one team member per acre where a typical farm would employ under five people total for the same 300 acres. They also legally employ migrant workers from Mexico, flying them to the farm every season and paying them a fair wage, 401K and a bonus. In addition to the farm hands every Chef is assigned a Product Specialist who become their eyes, ears and taste buds at the farm, providing them with inside information on what produce is looking the best at that time.
The Chef’s Garden has over 500 Chefs visit their farm yearly to see first hand the over 600 different species which are grown in chemical free soil and harvested by hand. Many spend spend time at the Culinary Vegetable Institute and given access to a professional kitchen where they are able to work with their team and play around with various foods.
You don’t have to be a professional Chef to enjoy the bounty of The Chef’s Garden. They have expanded their business to provide quality produce to the at-home Chef through Farmer Jones Farms. They have several memberships to choose from but all result in fresh, in-season produce that you often times cannot find at your local grocery being delivered to your door.
I can honestly say at this point in my journey that I would rather receive a box from Farmer Jones than I would from Totinos Pizza Rolls, and that is saying a lot.
The main office at The Chef’s Garden
Me, the non-Chef, wannabe Chef in front of the farm.
Road snack, fresh from the garden!