Tag: wellness

Jennifer Waxman Seed2Source

Where Agriculture Meets Wellness: Q&A With Seed2Source Founder Jennifer Waxman

Jennifer Waxman The Villages GrownAfter successfully guiding The Villages Grown™ to its current position as a vertically integrated, 84-acre total footprint, controlled environment agriculture (CEA), year-round, produce growing operation in Central Florida,  Jennifer Waxman is heading back to her roots.  That is, she’s turning her focus back to Seed2Source, the firm she launched in 2005 driven by her “agriculture meets wellness” passion and vision.

Indoor Ag-Con is thrilled to have Jennifer on our Advisory Board, as a speaker at the upcoming CEA Summit East in Virginia next week , and Indoor Ag-Con in Las Vegas in February 2023.  We had the chance to catch up with this busy CEA industry leader to learn more about her vision and plans in this month’s Q&A

For the last 6 years, you’ve overseen the impressive growth and development of The Villages Grown.  Why was the timing right to leave that post to focus on Seed2Source?

We were given the honor and trust to carry out our vision and model for The Villages Grown. This included the strategic direction, design, construction, and operation of a first-of-kind CEA in the South. We backed this with educational programming from both B2C and B2B. We built a community-based brand yet grew enough product for expansion throughout Florida. We worked with beautiful people in a beautiful community.

However, it is no secret that CEA is only scratching the surface in the US. We knew we wanted to be at the head of the ride with its growth. Several players in the CEA sector were showing intrigue and interest in our model. I believe this was rooted in our ability to build a strong brand, educate, all the while supporting other local farmers along the way.

I’ve learned a lot since entering the hydroponics sector in 2000. This is when I started to conceive this model of holistic wellness and was based on my global travels, thus observing the ‘Future of Food’. There is a lot to share from a rather long career in this sector. I have experienced successes, failures, and have observed overall industry needs and voids. This is the exciting part and I wanted back in!

Share more about Seed2Source, your Sustainable Ag Business Consulting Firm focusing on controlled environment agriculture

Seed2Source launched in 2016 but was really an evolution of my first ‘Agriculture Meets Wellness’ firm which was launched in 2005. Seed2Source is a first-of-kind, Sustainable Agriculture & Wellness, consulting firm headquartered in Florida but serving the US (and beyond). The firm focuses on strategic CEA projects rooted in sustainable agricultural, food-as-medicine, and local food system models.

Our CEA experience includes Vertical Farming, Controlled Greenhouse, Aeroponic and Hydroponic Methodologies, Strategy, Branding, Distribution, Education, Innovation, and Science. We are a one-stop-shop and are surrounded by the best and the brightest in all operational units required for true success. We bring in different consultants as the projects deem fit. This allows us to take on both small and large projects as the market dictates.

At the upcoming CEA Summit, you’ll be speaking on 2 panels, including one titled “Building The Future of CEA”.  If there is one message you hope to get across on that panel discussion what is it?

The CEA industry is still at its infancy and shall evolve with continuous iterations and innovations. Typically, when most people think of CEA, they only think of High-Tech, AI, Automation, etc. and forget about the State of Agriculture in general. I hope people start to realize that CEA is ‘part’ of a solution and not the ‘only’ solution. Also, I hope that people don’t forget about the actual agriculturists and horticulturists that are the true heroes in creating a sustainable, profitable, CEA operation. This seems to be lost with many of the current players in CEA.

You’ll also be speaking at the 2023 edition of Indoor Ag-Con on a great session idea you brought to us, “Building A CEA Alliance:  The Power of Grower Partnerships.” Can you share a little more about this idea?

As it stands, there is little-to-no diversity in US CEA. Everyone is clamoring for funding, market share, and innovations in technology. I believe they are missing a huge opportunity for collaborations, strategic partnerships, and supply chain solutions. We must work together not only for larger supply chain opportunities in both retail and wholesale, but to truly exchange best business practices and the like. We should also be collaborating to keep domestic supply in our own backyard and with prominence. There is enough business to be had for all!

What’s next for you and the team at Seed2Source?  

Our vertically integrated CEA Model, of which we pride ourselves on, was clearly not an overnight success. We are still on this journey. This will continue to be the core of our mission and vision. The Vision – ‘Intersecting Agriculture with Wellness as a Food-As-Medicine Approach’ — will continue to drive our passion and expansion.

We feel strongly that this is the model for success and ultimate operational sustainability. We are being courted by some amazing operations – both new and old players in the CEA space – which has been rewarding. We will continue to build our CEA and overall Domestic Farm Partnerships and Educational Programming.

Learn more about Jennifer and her team at www.seed2source.com 

Re-Envisioning Urban Farming With Direct To Consumer Urban Hubs

Q & A With Brick Street Farms CEO Shannon O’Malley

is excited to welcome Brick Street Farms CEO Shannon O’Malley to our speaker roster for the October 4-5, 2021 edition at the Hilton Orlando. Based in St. Petersburg, FL, O’Malley and her growing company are on a mission to “ignite a sustainable farm revolution by dramatically reshaping the global population’s ability to access clean, healthy food.” We caught up with Shannon to learn more about the multi-million investment Florida agribusiness leader Lykes Bros. has recently made in Brick Street Farms; her company’s THRIVE Containers division, and its non-profit Desert Farms Foundation.

Read our Q&A  here AND learn more next month in Orlando as Shannon joins our “Women in Ag” panel discussion

Congratulations on the recent news that Lykes Bros. Inc has made a significant investment in Brick Street Farms! What does this mean for your company and how does it play into your mission.

Brick Street Farms could not be more thrilled about the investment from Lykes Bros. Inc. We both inherently believe that within the agriculture space there is room for traditional farming models and urban community models. With our Lykes Bros.Inc. investment, Brick Street Farms will be bringing the first large-scale direct to consumer urban community model to the forefront: Brick Street Farms Urban Hubs.

Brick Street Farms Urban Farm Hubs

With this model, we have the privilege of contributing to the local economy by empowering and investing in our urban communities in as many ways as possible. We provide nutritional and medicinal food that has not been compromised by traditional agriculture supply chain issues, grown on-site, in one of the most advanced environmentally sustainable arenas in agriculture. With harvest to home in 24 hours, we take pride in leading the way in the evolution of how people connect to their food. We are growing 16-20 acres of farmland in 1/3 acre lots and could not be more excited. Brick Street Farms is defining what urban agriculture is with our urban hubs. These hubs are the truest form of bringing mass food production to the point of consumption. And the best way to sustainably feed more people from urban locations.

From a financial standpoint, this model is scalable, replicable, and sustainable. Below is a graph from the Artemis State of Indoor Farming 2020. We have added the Brick Street Farms direct to consumer model to this graph as shown below:

 Artemis State of Indoor Farming 2020

What was the rationale behind the launch of your THRIVE division and what makes your containers different than others on the market today?

When my husband, Brad, and I started Brick Street Farms, we had no idea how quickly our business would scale. With this scale and both of us having backgrounds in engineering, the obvious next step was to design and manufacture our own containers. As we thought through the designs, there were key areas that we knew needed improvements. Our main objective was, and still is, to build containers for growers, by growers. The maximization of plant sites was important, so we added a sixth row of channels and turned other excess space into plant sites. We significantly reduced the amount of components in the container that require maintenance.

Brick Street Farms Container

Our THRIVE Containers provide a one pump, one reservoir, one dosing station system for the complete grow cycle. Improving water sanitation through the use of nanobubble technology was a no brainer because it cleanses the water and eliminates toxins so we don’t have to use chemicals for cleansing. Those are just some of the ways our THRIVE Containers are different from those on the market today.

Tell us about the Brick Street Farms membership model and how it plays into both your business growth plan as well as the support of your overall mission.

We knew fairly early on that the only financially successful and sustainable model in this space is a direct to consumer model. That’s why we had to design the best in class containers in order to build the first of its kind direct to consumer Brick Street Farms urban hubs. Our membership program is similar to a gym with both individual memberships and corporate level memberships. This provides a recurring stream of revenue and is not a CSA model. Our customers are very community driven, hyper-local and support advanced environmental sustainability. Introducing the membership model was just a perfect way for them to connect with us and for us to connect with them and it supports the part of our mission which focuses on being good to our community and planet Earth.

Can you tell us about your non-profit Desert Farms Foundation – why you started it and what you hope to accomplish through it?

Desert Farms FoundationDesert Farms FoundationBringing our Desert Farms Foundation to life has been such a neat experience. The foundation is really growing faster than we expected. We don’t even have the Desert Farms Foundation website live yet, however, we have received a great kick-start to our operations budget and are already delivering to three major non-profit food organizations. It’s really important to recognize that we are a start-up and to be able to bring a non-profit to life in such a quick amount of time is super commendable and not easy. We all have so much on our plates and I am so proud that we got this off the ground and I look forward to witnessing the impact this foundation makes by working to provide nutritional wellness for ALL.

Learn more about Shannon and Brick Street Farms by visiting their website here.