Jennifer Waxman is the Executive Director and Visionary behind The Villages Grown. Jennifer’s agribusiness and the natural wellness career began in 2000. She is Florida’s leading expert on CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) and Local Food Systems. As Executive Director, Jennifer developed The Villages Grown business and educational model. She leads with a Food-as-medicine, Community-Centric, Local Food System, approach of which is the foundation of The Villages Grown model for success.
Jennifer entered the sustainable agriculture industry in 2001 as a Global Marketing Manager for an international manufacturer specializing in agricultural water conservation technology. This position allowed her to travel the world working with greenhouse operators and farmers, while also observing the health conditions of such areas in their relation to the agricultural practices in several world regions. During this time, Jennifer was responsible for new product development for the hydroponics division, as well as assisting growers in both the field and greenhouse to create new and advanced products and systems. She was positioned to analyze, understand, and advise strategies throughout the entire business processes from the greenhouse or field to fresh produce or finished product. Jennifer learned about CEA from the countries that were leading the charge prior to CEA truly being adopted as a viable commercial opportunity in the US, which only began around 2010.
In 2005, she launched a first-of-kind, Sustainable Agriculture & Wellness consulting firm in Central FL. The firm focused on the supply chain management from the production growing of fresh produce and raw ingredients, to the end user markets for both fresh produce and natural products sectors. She consistently led large, strategic consulting projects focused on sustainable agricultural and food-centric business models such as multiple CEA projects and systems (*both Aeroponics and Hydroponics), Medical networks centered around Food-as-Medicine Models, Agrihoods, Agritourism, and Natural product launches.
Jennifer was personally mentored over a 16-year tenure with renowned, plant-based natural wellness leaders and educators, Dr. Ron Cusson and Dr. Bill Huggins, in the Food-as-Medicine sector of natural wellness. She has been at the forefront of the Local Food Movement in Central Florida as a leading food system advocate and State speaker and educator. She has served on the board of Slow Food Orlando; is a mentor for young leaders and non-profits in the local food movement; and as a host for ongoing food-as-medicine educational programs for medical practitioners, students and patients alike. She has worked alongside some of Central Florida’s most prominent organizations such as Orlando Health, FL Hospital, UF Health, University of Florida (IFAS), and the UCF Medical Culinary Program. She has evolved to become a Global Speaker for CEA including being a newly appointed Board Member of Indoor Ag-Con.
Jennifer’s passion has been creating a pure and sustainable, synergistic Local Food System. Her emphasis is on closing the loop within this system, while bridging the gap between Agriculture with Optimal Wellness. This Food-as-Medicine approach supports the continuing education-based strategy on the threatening effects of the ‘SAD’ (Standard American Diet) and the repercussions of an over-fed and under-nourished society. She is a Keynote Speaker at several prominent medical, natural wellness and food conferences such as the American Culinary Federation and FL Food & Restaurant Association, while addressing the increased incidence of ‘dis-ease’ as people disconnect food from health. In the commercial sector, the ultimate goal is teaching the agricultural sector to use growing methodologies that elicit optimum nutrient density while delivering these healing foods in a fast and efficient manner. In the consumer sector, the ultimate goal is teaching the public about the necessity for eating a hyper-local, Plant-Forward, clean diet.