The Chef's Garden
One man's trash, another man's development

Tradition meets extraordinary at The Chef's Garden and has for the last thirty years.  The Chef's Garden is a small family farm located in Huron, Ohio that grows and ships the very best specialty vegetables, lettuces, greens, herbs, edible flowers and microgreens for the best chefs and restaurants in the world. 

The Jones family and their team employ traditional farming methods combined with innovative technology to stay on the leading edge of the produce business, and 2017 saw continued advancement at the farm. 

In an effort to extend the Northern Ohio growing season, the Chef's Garden built another greenhouse to grow more of the products their chefs love.  In addition to being their largest greenhouse to date, the new greenhouse implemented a cost-effective, sustainable, environmentally-friendly heating system.  How?  The greenhouse is heated by a corn cob converter that converts another farmer's byproduct into a sustainable heating fuel, effectively reclaiming a product that was once considered waste. 

"For years," Farmer Lee Jones says, "we had a neighbor, just a mile away, who needed to pay to have excess corn cobs hauled away from his farm. But , now that we can use them to heat our greenhouse, the neighboring farm gets paid for its cobs while we get the source of our heat delivered directly to our door. This aids the sustainability of both farms and is environmentally friendly. Everyone wins, and nothing excites me more than the opportunity to work collectively to solve problems creatively."

Burning corn cobs creates fuel called cellulosic ethanol and after broken down, via enzymes and yeast, it burns cleanly.  The Chef's Garden is on the forefront of this development and expects research to carry the process into other industries.  For example, at the University of Delaware they are efficiently extracting sugars from waste products like corn cobs in order to create a cheaper substitute for the petroleum currently used in manufacturing consumer goods.  The result will be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The Chef's Garden has  never wavered from their commitment to farming that is environmentally friendly, socially responsible and economically viable. Their dedication to health and well-being of future generations is foundational to understanding the chefs they work with.
Chefs are looking for unique products, grown sustainably, picked at the peak of freshness. While local product is still important, quality products shipped direct from the grower to the kitchen are more in demand than ever. The hand-in-hand relationship, the Chef and the Farmer, is what drives success at the Chef's Garden.
More developments are on the horizon for the world's most discriminating chefs.  The Chef's Garden has just started construction of a new state-of-the-art research building that will run tests on everything from their soil to their harvested products, and every stage of growth in between. We look forward to sharing the details of this exciting development in 2018.

They may be a small family farm, but the Chef's Garden is the leading grower of artisanal produce in the nation, with a 150-person team shipping to all 50 states, 17 countries and clients like Air Force 1 & Disney Resorts.  The farm credits collaboration with its creative and extraordinary clients for its success.  We want to acknowledge the inspiration they provide to us and other residents of Erie County.  Our community is enriched by their values and timeless execution.
Abbey Bemis, Executive Director

PS - Any and all lovers of food & art, must follow the Chef's Garden on Twitter @thechefsgarden. Who knew vegetables could be so beautiful?
Energy development is an integral part of enhanced economic development.  Expanded provision and energy services can both lead and respond to new development.  Over the past few years, we've seen new services and solutions take root in Erie County to drive energy development, efficiency and cost savings.  The Chef's Garden found a sustainable solution that worked for their business.  Others have taken advantage of wind turbines, specialty burners or retrofits of existing space.  ECEDC's recently partnered with the City of Sandusky to bring another tool to the table, an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) that provides alternative funding sources for energy efficiency improvements.  Be sure to us let us know what energy, plans and improvements you're bringing into 2018!

The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio.  Each day this week and next you will receive an email spotlight on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2018 list!