I was reminded of how information changes hands so much faster than the old days of licking a stamp and sending a letter when we had Chef Toni Robertson here from Mandarin Oriental New York City, along with her sous chefs, Angie Berry and Mike Gordon. We are lucky to have so many amazing chefs visit the farm and they tend to love to get out into the field, get their hands dirty and do some work. It’s always fun and educational for all of us, the symbiotic relationship of chef and farmer working together, and it certainly gives chefs a greater appreciation of all the hard work, passion and love that goes into growing and caring for sustainably grown vegetables. And many times i think we learn as much from the chef visits as they do.
So here’s what happened…I used my cell phone to photograph Chef Toni while she was on the transplanter. I tweeted the picture of her working on the farm, and before she reached the end of the row, her sous chef back in New York City called her to say he wished he was here with us.
I’m the first to admit I’m much better with a tractor than with a computer, yet I am aware of how important and relevant technology is today. It's a great way for us to share real-time information about what we have available on the farm. Of course, we wish you were actually here walking the fields with us each morning so we could pick what’s looking great from the fields for today’s menu together. That’s not practical, but social media creates a window for that day-to-day look into the operation.
Of course, technology continues to become more and more affordable, so hopefully we can use it strategically to offset the competition of cheap labor in third world countries and help people to embrace, understand and support the difference in small farm sustainability versus mega farming. We have to look for ways that we can work more efficiently to be able to compete. We have to stay abreast of new technology to stay connected to the smartphone generation of chefs.
We’ve explored the concept of farmer’s markets via video conferencing, which has been a big hit with our customers. We also held the first long-distance chef and farmer dinner with Lockwood Restaurant in Chicago. It was a really exciting use of technology to connect diners with where their food comes from. We set up a camera in one of our greenhouses and the hotel set up cameras in the kitchen, so I was able to show off the food that we grew here on the farm and guests were able to see chef plating that same product for their next course. It won't be long before we’re connecting with smellavision.
The technology continues to develop at an exponential rate, thus opening opportunities where we may be able to support you. We will continue to look for ways that we can incorporate technology as it becomes more affordable, to better serve our customers and remain sustainable as a family farm. Find me on Facebook
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