I jumped at the opportunity to attend Roots Regenerate 2023, held annually at the Culinary Vegetable Institute at The Chef’s Garden west of Cleveland, OH. Admittedly, I knew little about the conference. But I wanted to meet Farmer Lee Jones.
Like any other newsroom, the editors at Greenhouse Grower and Meister Media all talk to each other about business and non-business matters. Or, spill the tea, as I like to say. The hybrid working environment in the post-COVID era has not deterred our conversations.
I heard the name “Farmer Lee Jones” over and over again. I heard that he is a wealth of information, I heard that he is eager to take visitors on farm tours, and I heard that he wears a red bow tie. This was my opportunity to meet Farmer Lee Jones and see what all the hullabaloo was about.
Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the Roots Regenerate conference and meet many impressive chefs, restauranters, and writers, in addition to Farmer Lee Jones. This event did not disappoint, and I’d like to highlight a few reasons why.
New Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Looking up in Florida
- Hard-hitting knowledge from the experts who know best: Roots Regenerate offered an incredible lineup of speakers. The event boasted four world-renown chefs as keynote speakers, including Brandon Chrostowski, Maneet Chauhan, Michael Voltaggio, and David Kinch. The conference, which lasted a day and a half, was jam-packed with essential information from experts in the food and beverage industry. The first session of the event was called “A Balanced Kitchen,” focusing on the people in the kitchen, in addition to the food. Many people in the restaurant industry have struggled with physical and mental health challenges, but may not have sought out help in the past. Four highly rated chefs shared their personal experiences during a panel discussion to promote awareness, eliminate stigmas, and offer resources for support.
- Put your money where your mouth is: If you’ve seen vegetables from The Chef’s Garden, taste-testing has surely crossed your mind. The chefs fulfilled what we were all hoping for — meals straight from the garden. Local ingredients were weaved into every meal, including zucchini, sweet corn, onion, and cabbage from The Chef’s Garden. Even the cocktail ingredients came from the farm, such as garnishing a drink with micro herbs. Many attendees stayed after the conference for dinner under the stars.
- Networking opportunities: One of the ideal aspects of the Roots Regenerate conference is the size. It is smaller than other industry events I’ve attended, including around 150 people. At shows like Cultivate, many industry giants have descended on Columbus, but with 10,000 people in attendance, you will never see many of them. The smaller size of this conference kept it intimate, allowing attendees to have many 1-on-1 conversations and giving them time to speak to almost everyone there. With good food comes good conversation.
To come full circle, one of the best connections I made was Farmer Lee Jones. He is clearly an industry innovator and his practices have changed how people think about farming, especially soil health. Make sure to book a farm tour and dinner reservations, sit back, and enjoy the ride!