Farmer Spotlight: When Farmer Lee Jones Isn’t Farming, He’s Dreaming About Farming
Hello my name is Farmer Lee Jones of The Chef’s Garden and we have been growing microgreens, specialty vegetables, and herbs for chefs for over 30 years.
Sustainable farming practices are important to me because they are required in order to grow foods that look good, taste good, and are good for you. The team at The Chef's Garden is committed to sustainable agriculture and practices that replenish nutrients depleted from the soil. Embracing the traditional philosophies of farming and recognizing the importance of growing crops through natural means, The Chef's Garden is deeply dedicated to "growing vegetables slowly and gently, in full accord with nature." We believe that by rebuilding the soil naturally it will return to us a more nutritious, flavorful product.
My favorite thing about being a farmer is learning to work in harmony with nature and not against it as well as farming in a way that is rebuilding the soil for future generations.
My farmer idol of superhero is my father Bob Jones Senior.
My favorite song to listen to on the farm is “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
When I’m not farming I like to dream about farming.
My favorite thing to grow is anything with seasonal sensitivity in mind. There is a natural rhythm to what we should eat and grow.
My favorite thing to eat is asparagus – when it is in season we should eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And when it is out of season we should lust for it for the next 10 months.
If I could change one thing about the food system it would be to establish direct from farm-to-user and eliminate processed foods.
Something you don’t know about me is I wear the same thing every day – my closet is lined with 18 pairs of jean overalls, 18 white shirts, and 18 red bowties!
If I could tell the world one thing about what being a farmer is like it would be patience and perseverance. There are many highs and many lows.
I am reducing post-harvest losses by tracking sales we can more closely plant exactly what our chef’s need. We are also working closely with chefs who prefer “ugly vegetables” and can utilize what once the industry considered throw aways. Here on the farm we also return our compostable trimmings to the land to rebuild the soils naturally.
I conserve water on my farm by using homemade irrigation equipment that reduces irrigation losses to evaporation by over 50 percent. We also target irrigate and direct our irrigation to just the growing crop and not the surrounding non growing crop areas.
Climate change is affecting my farm by: we have yet to see definitive climate change patterns here on the farm.
One thing I’m doing to protect the environment on my farm is: Just to name a few…we are using corncobs from our neighbor to heat our greenhouse, the use of cover crop on our fields rather than synthetic fertilizers, our sustainable philosophy to rebuild the soil naturally, drainage tile to allow rain water to seep into the soil and be taken to the watershed to control erosion.
I think we need more young people involved in farming because the average age of farmers in the U.S. is too high.
One thing I’m doing to create healthy soil on my farm is cover croping every square inch of available space multiple times per year.
One thing I’m doing to prevent erosion from my farm is planting cover crops and also utilizing drainage tile to allow rain water to seep into the soil and be taken to the watershed in a more controlled environment.
I chose the agricultural life because farming is in my DNA – I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps.
Others in my family are involved in farming or agriculture. I work alongside my father Bob Jones Sr. and my brother Bob Jones Jr., but The Chef’s Garden isn’t The Chef’s Garden without the passion of our team members. Each and everyone one of our team members are a part of our family.
The following resources, programs, or organizations are most valuable to my farm: The relationships we have fostered with chefs around the world has been invaluable. They continually inspire us to do what we do!