Vitruvian Farms raises a little bit of everything, and a lot of salad greens, so we dig into the ins and outs producing 1,200 pounds of salad greens a week, from bed shaping and weed control through harvest and delivery. Shawn shares the ways they have – and have not – mechanized their salad production, and how they make this intensive level of production work on a small scale. We also look at the key success factors for their other main crops, oyster mushrooms, tomatoes, and microgreens.
Most of Vitruvian Farms’ produce is sold through 45 restaurants in Madison, and Shawn shares how they got started in that marketplace and how they maintain those relationships. We dig into what quality really means when selling to restaurants, and how Vitruvian Farms gets top-notch produce to demanding chefs in a crowded marketplace.
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Quotes from the Show
[Starting the business with a focus on restaurant sales] pushed our quality to a really high level because we always thought we had to have the best stuff because we were sending it to these fancy restaurants and these chefs.
I learned that when you show up, as long as it’s not during rush hours, with a bunch of free samples, the chef is normally happy to see you.
I take it upon myself to say, if something’s repeatedly not being done correctly, how can we design a better system or give better directions or create a better work culture so that those things happen.
The Six-Row Seeder from Johnny’s Selected Seeds lets Vitruvian Farms seed the solid beds of greens that set them up for mechanical salad greens harvest.
Vitruvian Farms started the mechanization of their salad harvester with the Quick Cut Harvester from Farmer’s Friend.
The HarvestStar baby leaf harvester from Sutton Ag allows Shawn to harvest salad greens from an upright position.
Vitruvian Farms uses Entrust for flea beetle control.
Sustane 5-2-4 provides an organic slow-release nitrogen fertilizer that Vitruvian Farms uses to keep their salad beds humming along.