The Brightfarms blog is where you’ll find what we’re thinking about, reading about, and working on.

The Ever-Expanding Local, Sustainable Food Network

By Anna-Sophia Haub

I started working as a hostess at the 1789 restaurant a couple of weeks ago. 1789 is part of a larger restaurant chain called Clyde’s Restaurant Group located in the Washington area. I was fascinated to find out during my corporate training that Clyde’s serves “locally-raised” and “sustainable” produce and meats in each one of its fourteen restaurants.

Since the late 1970s, Clyde’s group has worked to incorporate “locally-raised” and “sustainable” foods in their menu. Clyde’s was actually the first restaurant chain in Washington, DC to encompass these locally raised and farm grown foods, cutting out long distance shipment produce and meats that would reduce the quality of the food they were serving. In addition to serving its guests sustainable and locally grown produce, they support the local economy with their ongoing collaboration with local farmers, supporting the growth of those regions as well.

It was interesting to see how this concept of locally grown produce has been around for decades, but has only been deemed highly necessary and profitable by the public in last few years. It is fascinating to see that two different companies, BrightFarms, and Clyde’s Restaurant Chain, have the same mentalities in providing their customers with the best quality of produce. The practices that both of them take on promote sustainability, viability, and customer satisfaction.

25 February 2013

A Healthier Me

By Anna-Sophia Haub

Recently, I have been trying to alter my diet to be healthier and more balanced in order to increase my energy levels, cleanse my system, and sharpen my concentration.

Initially, I was not really aware that my diet was the reason for my loss of concentration and my reduced energy levels. Recently, my parents went to see a nutritionist awhile back in order to improve their diets and in a way that made sense for their lifestyles. They were given specific guidelines of what foods to eat and not to eat. Inspired by my parents’ commitment and enthusiasm towards a healthy lifestyle is what inspired me to actually become serious about reducing the amount of processed foods I eat and increase the amount of local, unprocessed foods that I consume.

After reading some additional materials on health and nutrition, I became more aware of the health risks that come from processed foods and have now begun to change my diet.

Click to read more…

14 January 2013

Jacobus Vlok Joins BrightFarms as Vice President of Finance

BrightFarms is excited to announce that Jacobus Vlok is joining our team as Vice President of Finance.

As VP of Finance, Jacobus will be leading the effort to finance BrightFarms’ greenhouse farms and executing strategies to further our mission to reduce the environmental impact of the produce supply chain.
Jacobus is an energy finance professional with deep experience originating and closing energy and infrastructure project finance transactions and significant experience in renewable energy transactions. During his career, Jacobus has advised on numerous milestone closings in the renewable energy industry, including one of the largest biomass financings in the U.S. and company first transactions in the U.S. wind power industry.

Jacobus received an MBA from Columbia University in NYC, and received his university and law degrees in South Africa, where he was born.

“I have worked in the energy industry since the start of my career and I have worked on renewable energy transactions for most of my 10 years in NYC,” says Jacobus. “Renewable energy and related sustainability industries are essential to providing balance and diversification to the U.S. energy industrial complex and it is drawing conventional and unconventional sources of capital into the sector, which makes it an exciting time.”

“We’re thrilled to have Jacobus on board,” says BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot. “Jacobus’ extensive project finance experience and commitment to our mission are tremendous assets. I am confident he can take us to the next level.”

“I am very excited about joining BrightFarms and helping Paul and the team grow the company as BrightFarms embarks on the next phase in its growth cycle,” says Jacobus.

03 December 2012

BrightFarms’ Briefing on Capitol Hill

This October, I was fortunate enough to take time from my busy college schedule to go to a briefing at the Canon Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. However, this was no ordinary briefing; it was one for BrightFarms! When I received an invitation to this wonderful opportunity, I was more than excited because it is not everyday that I, a college student, am able to experience a meeting on Capitol Hill.

Once at the briefing, I was fascinated to hear CEO Paul Lightfoot speak about the potential partnerships between BrightFarms and local governments. I am currently taking an Environmental Politics course where we discuss different ways in which local and state governments are beginning to support environmentally sustainable businesses and smaller agencies in order to improve the local communities. It was intriguing to see the diverse group people at the briefing, especially the state representatives committed to expanding sustainable environmental practices in their communities.

Click to read more…

20 November 2012

What Does the Agreement Between Chipotle and CIW Really Mean?

Everyone should be excited that Chipotle has signed on to The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Fair Food Program. Chipotle is the 11th company to sign on with CIW, a farmworker-based human rights organization that promotes better wages and working conditions for Florida farmworkers.

Out of the 11 companies that have already signed the agreement to protect farm workers and give them a penny more a pound for their hard work, Chipotle may be the most well known for their commitment to sustainability and brand around “food with integrity.” Chipotle has attempted to do fast food “slow,” and has done a great job of selling this image to the public.

Marketing a sustainable food business has become increasingly challenging as corporate green-washing accelerates and words like “sustainable” and “organic” have begun to loose their meaning. But Chipotle has managed to promote a more authentic image. Its Back to the Start video (featuring a Willy Nelson cover of a Cold Play song) linked the company to the good food movement and the idea that we should be engaged with our food system. The commercial didn’t feature sizzling steaks, or shrimps flying through the air, as if that is what makes people crave shrimp. “Hey did you see those shrimp cascading through the air, damn I’m hungry.” When a company like Chipotle stands up (finally) and joins the CIW, it means something.

Click to read more…

14 November 2012

Farmer Chris Williams Joins BrightFarms

BrightFarms is excited to announce our newest Bright-Farmer, Chris Williams!

Chris is joining the team as Head Farmer at our Yardley, PA, greenhouse and will begin growing fresh, local lettuces, tomatoes, and herbs this January! Chris’ crops will be delivered to McCaffrey’s Market and to Superfresh and John Vena, Inc. in Philadelphia.

Chris, who has over seven years of experience managing a hydroponic greenhouse, has been farming hydroponically since high school. “I got involved because I truly believe that controlled environment agriculture, hydroponic farming, is the key to a more sustainable way of growing quality produce for all,” he says. “I’m excited to join the talented BrightFarms team and becoming part of a new model of local, sustainable food production that minimizes food miles and maximizes flavor and nutrition.”

Click to read more…

31 October 2012

Paul Lightfoot's "Swamp Juice" Recipe

Drink “Swamp Juice” for breakfast, before bed, and always before a hard workout. If you drink enough swamp juice, eat healthy, exercise regularly and consistently get enough sleep, you’ll never be sick! And you’ll be happier. Many kids will also drink swamp juice regularly after seeing their parents drink it with gusto.

The base ingredients for Swamp Juice:

A big handful of Spinach
A big handful of Kale (substitute beet greens for a more bitter taste)
One large cucumber chopped in big pieces
One lemon with the skin mostly sliced off
One thumb-sized piece of ginger with the skin cut off
Two cored apples
A healthy pour of finely ground flaxseed

Click to read more…

25 September 2012

Stay Hungry

Recently on my way home from the BrightFarms office in Midtown Manhattan, I decided to stop by the New York Public Library Lunch Hour NYC exhibit. Lunch Hour NYC, explores the phenomenon that has become lunch hour in New York City. Pulling from its vast collection, the exhibit tells the tale of a city redefining the way busy commuters, weary travelers, and hungry tourists feed themselves between breakfast and dinner (which was once known as supper and followed dinner because dinner was at what is now lunch time, just trust me on this one). It is a story of innovation forced by circumstance, driven by entrepreneurship, and, above all, how hungry people found ways to feed themselves amongst the chaos and keep the wheels of progress churning away.

I left the exhibit and wandered through the gift shop with the throngs of sweaty tourists, all of us enjoying a brief refuge from the heat outside. While meandering aimlessly, casually fingering over coffee mugs, t-shirts, little bookends in the shape of the famous marble lions Patience and Fortitude, the cover of a book caught my eye, beaming with a bright red apple surrounding the words “Eat the City” printed on a black and white map of New York City.

Click to read more…

17 September 2012

Are Your Colors Bright? Leadership Lessons on Purpose, Values, & Vision

There is a big difference between run-of-the-mill companies simply trying to survive and make a profit and companies aspiring to be excellent, ethical and enduring. Using a horseracing metaphor, we call those three Es (excellent, ethical, enduring) “triple crown leadership.”

As we detail in our new book, one of the distinguishing features of triple crown leadership is that it creates strong “colors”—purpose, values, and vision. (In horseracing, the racing colors worn by the horse and jockey help distinguish them in the racing scrum.)

Click to read more…

27 August 2012

The Tiny World of Insects is a Terrifying Place

The tiny and vast world of insects is a truly terrifying place. On a micro-scale, one can witness some traumatizing acts of ruthlessness: herbivore gluttons run rampant, eating each other out of house and home; devious body snatchers paralyzing and parasitizing unwitting victims; females occasionally dismembering their partners’ bodies and consuming them!

Farmers are all too aware of the horrors and devastation within the insect world. And to be perfectly honest, we enjoy playing God a little. Sitting high above the dew clouds in our tractors and greenhouses, we plot which strings to pull and who to smite. The farm can easily transform into a life-sized game of Risk, gathering beneficial “bug armies” to fend off invaders.

In actuality, we humble farmers simply want to grow food for our own communities. However, to grow food efficiently, we must cultivate a limited number of crop varieties in a relatively small geographic area (a farm). The farm is a veritable buffet for the Eloi of the pest world. The four-course meal of lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil incite the vegetarians of the micro-world to show up for dinner in droves.

Click to read more…

22 August 2012

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