In this episode Joe and Nick reflect on past guest, like Vijay Rapaka, Jenn Frymark, Dan Ovadya and much more...
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Polygreens Podcast Episode 51
[00:00:00] Joe Swartz: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the poly greens podcast. I'm Joe Swartz from am hydro along with Nick greens and the Nick greens grow team. And we've got a special show today. Today is our one year anniversary show make, can you believe we've already been doing this
[00:00:14] Nick Greens: a year? I know it's complete year, just flew by and you know, just great guests and just great.
I mean, I'm having fun doing this. I'm looking forward to this upcoming. Yeah,
[00:00:24] Joe Swartz: we've actually got a lot of cool stuff planned for you all, um, in the, in the coming year. But, but I had to go back. I had to take a look at everything that we did and all the people that we had on what an amazing group of
[00:00:37] Nick Greens: people to put any.
Uh, okay. So let's, let's say who, who's one of your favorites and we're not saying that they're bettered and who, or we're not ranking them as who's better in industry. It's just, who do you think the episode that we got the most out of, like, as far as a teaching audience,
[00:00:54] Joe Swartz: it's a great question. I mean, we I'm spinning through the list as we speak, so, so if [00:01:00] anybody, um, you know, we're, we're taking questions all the time.
We're gonna be setting up. Forums to do Q and a and, and we certainly would love to know what, what all of you thought as far as who was your favorite
[00:01:11] Nick Greens: guests even start? I think we should do a live forum on a clubhouse, uh, you know, use our into that. Please be wanting to hear more of you just want to see a clubhouse, a forum of me, Joe, and getting some of the people that we had on the podcast.
[00:01:25] Joe Swartz: Yeah, for sure. I think, um, you know, when we spoke at indoor ag con, I think that really highlighted, um, you know, the need in the industry for people to have those discussions, we had, um, you know, so many great questions when, when we did the forum, uh, with Ricardo and VJ and, uh, and, and we had so many people with really good.
Practical questions. You know, the, when
[00:01:47] Nick Greens: it comes down to is people are scared to like give knowledge away for free because then they're going to give away their talents. But you got to really think about it. Nobody can ever have your brain. You may give them a little [00:02:00] portion of it, but how can they run with a little portion of your brain?
If you're the one with the.
[00:02:06] Joe Swartz: Yeah, I've seen, I've seen both the, you know, exactly what you say. People are concerned about giving away too much. And then two, one of the things I see all the time is, uh, which is why I think the Q and A's are important is that people are so afraid to ask questions because they feel like.
Um, I don't want to look dumb. I don't, you know, I I'm the only one who has this problem. I can't tell you how many times I've been speaking with a group and someone will finally ask a question about, say aphids. And they're like, you know, I've had problems in my lettuce with Avis and almost everybody's like, oh yeah, that's, that's exactly what I wanted to know about her or whatever it, you just see that there's so much commonality.
Everyone has the same. Yeah, growing challenges. I mean, if you've been growing, I could sit here. I could talk for the whole hour on some of the phenomenal screw ups that I've had in my career. Over the years
[00:02:55] Nick Greens: we walked into and there's 30,000 gallons of [00:03:00] water on the floor with no floor
[00:03:02] Joe Swartz: drain with no floor drains.
[00:03:05] Nick Greens: that was at farmed here. Right? There was no farm here.
[00:03:09] Joe Swartz: There was, I seen two at farm here and it also had sand and bio, some major flooding issues for sure. Um, yeah. And, and there's no Harmon in that, you know, admitting, I mean, I can tell you long stories about. Massive insect and disease infestations.
I've dealt with, um, dumb engineering designs that I've done. Uh, you know, we, we learn so much,
[00:03:34] Nick Greens: so you versus just taking out half your crop overnight, you're just like, what the hell, what happened?
[00:03:41] Joe Swartz: And I admittedly, there's been plenty of times when I've had. You know, issues where I was afraid to ask, you know, for help, because there is, there's this stigma there's embarrassment, you know, you don't want to say, gee, I screwed up, uh, you know, my environmental control systems.
And now, you know, all of my crops are suffering because of it because you don't [00:04:00] want to look dumb. And I know so many people. Who will, you know, it's one of those issues. Well, I don't have any problems with thrips, but, but my friend does. And what would my friend want to do? You know, it, it really is. And the Q and A's are so good for that because.
Honestly, every time someone asks a question, you can pick out 10 more people in the crowd who wanted to ask that same question or who are writing notes frantically when you're giving an answer, because it is a question that's on their mind. So I think that the Q and A's and the open forum and the open discussions
[00:04:33] Nick Greens: are being honest, straight, just being honest.
I think that's very important. If you want to move forward in any industry, if you're not honest with yourself and others, then you're not going to get the truth.
[00:04:45] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And, uh, and that's one of our things and, and, and looking back at all the phenomenal guests that we've had in so many different areas, you know, we've had commercial growers, we've had researchers, academics, we've [00:05:00] had, uh, people developing technologies.
We've had people in the, you know, exterior doing marketing and even
[00:05:06] Nick Greens: non-farmers, uh, teaching kids like Stephen Ritz. I mean, God man, that guy really blew my mind and
[00:05:14] Joe Swartz: I just thought we, we have to have him back and he's doing some amazing things all over the world. He and I were actually both in Egypt at the same time.
And didn't even realize it, oh God, he's got, he's got such amazing stuff going on and we'll be in
[00:05:27] Nick Greens: Vegas together. Me and Steven were doing, they're talking about doing a panel for, uh, the future generation farmers. So I think it would be like an educational panel. What is that? Uh, that's I think on March 1st, what does, isn't it making March?
What is it? March 1st is the conference.
[00:05:43] Joe Swartz: Oh for, is
[00:05:44] Nick Greens: that for indoor ad con
[00:05:47] Joe Swartz: in March? Yes. Um, the dates completely.
[00:05:50] Nick Greens: It's not finalized yet, but they, they have asked me to be a panelist. So that's something to look forward to.
[00:05:56] Joe Swartz: Ju you know, just another example. I really, I really want to [00:06:00] thank the folks at indoor icon.
That's yeah, that's coming up in March on the 27th through the,
[00:06:06] Nick Greens: I think we should push for a live show there. Like, even if it's like during maybe the nighttime or evening.
[00:06:12] Joe Swartz: Yeah, sure. Yeah. I, I forgive me. I was wrong. It's February 27th through March 1st. So yeah, I had to look, I can't remember. I can't remember what I'm doing tomorrow.
[00:06:23] Nick Greens: in three nets gonna fly right through. I mean, we're already, you know.
[00:06:27] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. So if you're considering coming to indoor icon, I know, you know, everyone's a little concerned right now with everything going on with COVID and travel and. But it's a really, it's a cool event. And, um, and we're really glad to want to be part of it again, but also to have an opportunity to do more in terms of grower tracks.
I think that that informational component, that's really what we started this podcast about. I mean, Nick and I have worked together, um, periodically over the past eight years now. And, uh, You know, the, the, the conversations [00:07:00] that we've had over the years have always been focused around, you know, improving the industry, improving, growing, uh, giving out good workable knowledge.
And of course, it's kind of the impetus for this whole podcast was combating the misinformation because, you know, again, to, to your point about being honest, you know, there's so much dishonesty out there and misinformation, and then. Information that may not be relevant to you in your particular case as a grower, or if you're looking to get into this industry, it's very difficult.
And so getting good information is really important, but actually weeding out the misinformation or in inappropriate information is sometimes the even bigger challenge. So when we put the podcast together, that really was what pushed us to do it. And, and I'm so glad that we've, we've started this journey.
You know, it's, it's certainly a man, also the
[00:07:52] Nick Greens: people getting ripped off, you know, 30, $40,000 having to pay up front for some knowledge that's not even current or [00:08:00] even as right. You know, so I think that really hurt me the most is just seeing people that we know, just kind of get messed over and industry and, you
[00:08:09] Joe Swartz: know, yeah.
Just last week I worked with a grower who had paid again and one of those boutique consulting firms. You know, claiming a lot of expertise and giving really terrible advice, inexperienced advice. And, uh, and again, that's yeah, that's one. I think we could do a whole show on that and certainly don't want to throw stones and name names if you will, but no, not at all.
We would never that, but it is one of the things that, so when you, when you are, if you out there are looking to get into the business or gain now, It's really important to look at everything. Even everything you hear on this podcast, you need to look at it with a level of skepticism. You need to look at the source.
You know, who's telling you, who's giving you advice. If someone's giving you advice on hydroponic growing systems, you know, do they have a track record of actually. [00:09:00] Operating these successfully or designing and building them.
[00:09:02] Nick Greens: Yes. People think of them in the industry, like start asking some other people in different areas of the industry, just, Hey, do you know so-and-so and see what they have to say about them, you know, doing your
[00:09:13] Joe Swartz: due diligence.
Yeah. It's a small industry and everyone knows everyone. And if people aren't aren't as willing to, you know, say something bad about someone, which I understand, I mean, you know, that's that's
[00:09:22] Nick Greens: yeah. But if I can save someone $30,000, I would just let them know. And the track history and not try to talk bad about people, but just tell them about their track history, if they do have a bad track history.
[00:09:35] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Well, and to that, to that note, you know, so when people ask me about, say, let's say indoor vertical growing. So, so who has done it successfully? And I don't mean who's, um, you know, who's got the flashy, uh, website and the press releases and the, and the news, and who's getting a lot of investment, but who's actually growing successful.
Or who's designed systems that are producing high quality biking, [00:10:00] even just barely,
[00:10:00] Nick Greens: barely breaking
[00:10:01] Joe Swartz: even. So when I look at something like that, you know, I have to look at so many people and one of our earliest guests, Graham Dunlin, you know, Graham hardcore fourth generation, he's bringing on his son now, Matthew, um, into the growing operations,
[00:10:16] Nick Greens: flora, John, can't forget about Dan and flora.
[00:10:19] Joe Swartz: John Dan Ovadia. I mean, there's a guy, Dan, Dan's a guy that I. Really respect because he is a plant scientist, but he understands the industry. He understands
[00:10:30] Nick Greens: he's a self taught plant scientist. That's what I really loved about him. He, he, he, you know, he did it the hard way.
[00:10:37] Joe Swartz: Yeah. I mean, he's got the academic credentials for.
But he's got the time in the greenhouse. He has innovated, uh, he's done everything from high-tech stuff to, you know, gluing stuff together with shoelaces. And he understands the growing. He understands the economics. He takes genetics to a whole new level. I mean, this guy is, was one of the best in the business.
What about Dr.
[00:10:58] Nick Greens: Murat? Uh, can't forget [00:11:00] about God
[00:11:01] Joe Swartz: maraca, Shera. What a, what a great guy. What a, what a wonderful person. Uh, I spent plenty of time with him.
[00:11:09] Nick Greens: He got to get mentored by a Merle Jensen. Right? Was he
[00:11:14] Joe Swartz: and Jean Jane was a phenomenal guest. One of my favorites. Um, I met Jean about 150 years ago. I think.
Uh, back when he was still in New Jersey and, uh, that guy has been immersed in this industry and, and, and their mentor. Yeah. Kind of, you know, the, the man who started it all at university of Arizona, Merle Jensen, who we were still hoping to get on this podcast sometime, um, and anybody
[00:11:38] Nick Greens: knows anything and just let him know.
[00:11:41] Joe Swartz: Dr. Jensen, we, we want to see you and Dr. Jensen, um, you know, His reach, of course, you know, from, you know, from, from Jean Jack MLE to Murat, to, um, Jenn Frymark from Gotham greens, you know, all of her work there, um, learning from the best of the [00:12:00] best. And now through Gotham, you know, spreading high quality food production, all around north America and probably the world soon.
And so Jen was an awesome guest. Jen was one of my favorites because of her. Um, I mean, she's. She's got good academic credentials, likewise, but she's a, she's a grower and she's made the business work. So she understands the horticultural aspect, but also, uh, you know, developing, building a business, you know, if you've watched God them got them started.
10 11 years ago, and you know, small rooftop farm in New York city. Um, their model has evolved. They have larger scale greenhouses, but still focus on localized quality production, good economics, um, just an amazing success story. And so, you know, she's one of my favorites
[00:12:48] Nick Greens: for sure. And then don't forget if you're talking about women and industry Dr.
[00:12:53] Joe Swartz: Nadia south. Nadia was, was awesome. Um, I have not had, I have not heard from her [00:13:00] lately. Um, Nadia, we'd love to hear from you again. She
[00:13:02] Nick Greens: definitely have to have her as a guest again,
[00:13:05] Joe Swartz: you know, she, she covers so much in the, you know, value of environmental control, which is really the hallmark of successful CA production.
Um, Jenny. Jenny. Um, I have been lucky enough to been, you know, work directly with Jenny for the past, uh, seven and a half years. And you know, I have never seen anyone work harder to elevate this entire industry. I mean, every day, the focus of her work and the work with M hydro,
[00:13:32] Nick Greens: I don't even know working hard, dude.
It's the way she treats people. Man. I, I just, from my, my, the way I see it as she treats everybody, like, they're the president of the United States? No, like literally like that same respect. Yeah, I think that that's part of her. I really like.
[00:13:47] Joe Swartz: Yeah, I have personally seen her spend hours upon hours upon hours just working with someone I've seen her just recently.
She was working with someone that didn't even use an M hydro system and was [00:14:00] helping them improve their growing. So she she's, she's one of the ones I think Jenny is probably one of the unsung heroes in the industry who, you know, very few people really know who she is. And yet she has done so much to push this industry forward.
And I, and I speak from personal experience and
[00:14:16] Nick Greens: the education side that you stand by too, over at hydro. I mean, I think that's, that was a good connection between me and you is, cause we both had that vision of, of educating
[00:14:25] Joe Swartz: the people. Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of wildlife, Charlie McKenzie from co crop walk.
Yeah. Yeah. He was one of
[00:14:30] Nick Greens: our, he was one of our first guests. I think that was the shoulder you weren't on. I think you had some things come
[00:14:36] Joe Swartz: up, but he was the fifth. The fifth
[00:14:40] Nick Greens: podcast. So, but he was the first guest. He was the first guest. I mean the first
[00:14:44] Joe Swartz: actual guest. Yeah. And Charlie has taken IPM, you know, which is kind of one of those, you know, undervalued components of CA people tend to, you know, forget that in a greenhouse or in a grow room or in a controlled environment that, you know, past [00:15:00] issues are still major, uh, parts of, of growing.
And, you know, Charlie,
[00:15:05] Nick Greens: you won't have issues if you make the precaution.
[00:15:08] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, uh, the, the amount of effort and knowledge that he brings to the table with, um, you know, biological pest control scouting, you know, the whole idea of prop walk was to spend time in your, in your, your systems and your crops and know what's going on.
And I called them
[00:15:27] Nick Greens: in October to try to get him on the show and the response back I got. Uh, try me in January of next year. I was like, whoa, he's really that book, which is, I'm so happy for him, Charlie, if you're listening, Charlie, I'm so happy for what's going on with you. Absolutely deserve it.
[00:15:44] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
It does. Speaking of busy, how about Jim panel ale? Uh, Jim is the new job that he got. Yes. He's the hardest working man in show business in the CA uh, realm. He's a. Nonstop Mo uh, movement. He's definitely
[00:15:59] Nick Greens: a big [00:16:00] facilitator in the industry that I think people we think to address here on the podcast and give him credit for that.
[00:16:06] Joe Swartz: One of the best, uh, Jim, uh, in his work with indoor ag con. And, and what did he call himself? Head Wrangler. Um, Hi, Al Barnett is now stepping into those big shoes. And Kyle is also an amazing guy. I want to say hi to him and would love to have him on the podcast. Uh, upcoming Kyle's a great guy and another amazing facilitator.
We need people like that. We need people who are, you know, making connections all the time. Jim has, um, you know, Jim was instrumental in, in, you know, keeping our message of, you know, kind of focusing on the grower and on innovative growing technology and effective techniques. You know, he's always been, you know, very important to, to kind of keep that, that going.
Um, Glen Bierman too, is, is one that, you know, Glenn Behrman of Growtainers. I mean, he has been in the wild
[00:16:54] Nick Greens: cowboy and industry. He really is, but I mean that in a very great way [00:17:00]
[00:17:00] Joe Swartz: we want Glenn back on Glenn has been again in the horticulture industry, I think about 300 years now. And. Talking about
[00:17:08] Nick Greens: speaking his mind though.
I really, really love the way he just, he there's no filter on that mouth for sure.
[00:17:15] Joe Swartz: And that's what, that's one of the reasons that, that, uh, you know, we get along with him so well, is Glenn will tell you right to your face. And Glen is, Glen is kind of the, um, Glen and Graham, both I think are. Really the voices of honesty.
You know, you don't always like what they say, which trust me, people have said the same about me. Uh, often, very often, you know, you don't necessarily, always want to hear what they're saying, but what they're saying is the truth. They're giving you their honest opinion. They're giving you facts. And they're not sugarcoating it.
And I wish we had more people in the industry like them Glenn through Growtainers, you know, he develops the containers. One of the only really container systems that, um, you know, I really, you know, respect, uh, Alaska life as [00:18:00] well as another great container system company. But, um, you know, Glen has turned business away when he has said, Hey, I don't think this is a good fit for you.
And that is so rare in this industry. You know, when everyone's trying to sell you something. You know, people like Glenn and Graham who are so honest, uh, and we're going to have them back. So, so don't worry folks. I know, uh, uh, of all of our guests, I think Glen and Graham have, have garnered the most, uh, public interest they love to hear.
[00:18:26] Nick Greens: Yeah, I would say honestly, Glenn is probably my favorite one, just because of, uh, he's just so funny. I mean, he's, he's very interesting whenever he's saying, and I'm not saying that nobody on the show was interesting. Everybody, all our guests were interested in. But there's just, there's just something about Glenn.
That just is just as authentic. Interesting. Like he doesn't care what people think about it
[00:18:49] Joe Swartz: and that's, and that's a valuable,
[00:18:52] Nick Greens: you know, I can't say that about myself. There's still a little bit of me I'm working on, you know, so
[00:18:57] Joe Swartz: yeah. Gary Stewart was also one of [00:19:00] my favorites, Dr. Gary Stewart. He had done work for NASA for so long.
[00:19:06] Nick Greens: well, so now he's doing a bunch of other stuff for the industry he's really involved now, too as well. And the food side.
[00:19:11] Joe Swartz: Yeah. I was glad to see him at indoor ad con. I haven't seen him in quite a while. And, uh, it was, it was nice to see him.
[00:19:17] Nick Greens: And what about, uh, Neil Neil Mattson over at Cornell? We got to see him there too as well.
[00:19:22] Joe Swartz: He is an amazing guy, again, a great academic and he has his, I mean, obviously he has a great wide birth of knowledge, but his sister
[00:19:31] Nick Greens: humble, I call him Mr. Humble. He is definitely.
[00:19:35] Joe Swartz: And, and, but, but his, his understanding of horticultural lighting. As it relates to CA is, is among the best in the industry.
[00:19:43] Nick Greens: Most of the most research in it too as well, right? Yeah.
[00:19:46] Joe Swartz: Yeah. I was lucky enough to visit him up at Cornell at the greenhouses. And I met a couple of his students and they've got a great program there and they work really hard and, and, you know, try to provide again, usable, valuable [00:20:00] information. And that's what, that's what led to him starting the glaze program, which again, I think is an invaluable resource here in the end.
[00:20:07] Nick Greens: Yeah, it definitely is. And, and, you know, for everybody that didn't listen to his episode, he is using LEDs and he recommends LEDs in the flower stage and the bed stage. So it, the, the technology is there to get the results that everybody was getting. What HPS lighting and metal highlight.
[00:20:26] Joe Swartz: Yeah, where a lot of people, myself included, you tend to get, uh, certain technologies that you become accustomed to, or, or are loyal to.
And it's hard sometimes to switch techno tech, especially in the farming industry, switching, uh, into different technologies or understanding different technologies even is sometimes tough. And I've had that myself. Um, and Neil has, you know, through his research really shows. Data hardcore data, you know, were they, they had no agenda to what type of lighting works best [00:21:00] here or there.
And instead through research and data has provided, you know, and again, there is no absolute in lighting. There is no one type of lighting or one lighting scheme or one lighting, you know, the set of wavelength or what have you. Um, but, but he's been able to kind of make a case for different technologies and different applications.
And again, with data to back it up, and that to me is. Is what moves the industry forward.
[00:21:25] Nick Greens: We can all talk talking about data. We can't forget about Kelly Nicholson. Oh, from auto
[00:21:30] Joe Swartz: grow. Kelly. Yeah. Kelly's amazing. Kelly is another person who has been in the industry for a very long time. And has, I mean, her fingerprints are all over the industry.
[00:21:41] Nick Greens: She's I mean, she goes way back till when all of these companies were still mom and Powell.
[00:21:47] Joe Swartz: Yeah, well, she was, she was at am hydro long before I was. And, um, you spent many years developing
[00:21:54] Nick Greens: she there when Jen was just had took over then.
[00:21:58] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Jenny was in the [00:22:00] company and, uh, when Kelly was still there and then Kelly.
Moving on with, uh, to develop Autogrow America. And again, focusing on high level nutritional dosing systems, particularly also they have environmental control systems, but, uh, but Kelly's one of those people who's who has probably spent as much time in the greenhouse, in the grow room as in the office and understands growing.
And again, In this industry, regardless of what segment of the industry you're in, it's really important to understand kind of the, the nuts and bolts of, uh, of operating it, which is one of the reasons I really loved having, um, Julie Gilbert Viber Berg from GNV greenhouse.
[00:22:39] Nick Greens: She was at the, she was at the conference as well.
[00:22:42] Joe Swartz: Yep. Talk about one speaking your mind, which again, I really love, but again, you know, Julie is, is on a tractor or she's digging trenches for a greenhouse project or, you know, uh, you know, getting involved in every aspect of the business that [00:23:00] you could possibly be in. Um, and what a wide berth of knowledge, because she works with so many different growing operations and all over the country and the world.
[00:23:10] Nick Greens: probably the number one construction company in the world then. Right. As far as greenhouse building,
[00:23:16] Joe Swartz: it's a lot of construction companies, but GMV really has got some of the greatest.
[00:23:21] Nick Greens: She is the one connected into the industry the most yeah. And very involved in relevant to,
[00:23:27] Joe Swartz: and having the Dutch connection as well, uh, is important.
So certainly she brought a lot to it. What about mark? Dora? Oh, gosh, mark is Martin and other great guy, mark. I've known for years online, but never really met, um, w it was a real pleasure to meet him on the podcast. And then finally actually meet him face to face just this past year. Uh, another great, innovative guy who has been.
You know, spend more time in the greenhouse than, than most. And then, you know, it was now in the indoor cannabis space and he's done a lot of cool work with environmental controls [00:24:00] for, for, for cannabis production.
[00:24:02] Nick Greens: I'm one of those guys that just got his hands really dirty,
[00:24:05] Joe Swartz: right? Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And it's always, it's always great to talk to him.
Uh, you may be an executive in the industry, but he's a grower at heart. And you know, he, he's got a lot of, uh, a lot of time and a lot of, a lot of plants app on his hands. So, uh, and to that point, Alex, McMeekin for Riverside growers. Yeah. Oh my God. You know, Alex, Alex is really the embodiment of.
Small-scale localized agriculture and using CA one of the, one of the most valuable of the many valuable pieces of CA is the ability to grow in a very inhospitable climate and, and Alex, uh, and the folks at Riverside and grow up right near the Arctic circle. They're up all the way up the hay river, Northern Canadian territory.
Harsh. Um, you know, I walked outside and it's, you know, a little below freezing here and windy and Massachusetts and uncomplaining. And, um, you know, that's not, that's a [00:25:00] warm summer day to Alex and his and his crew, I think. Um, but, but you know, a guy who started, you know, he and his wife visited M Hydro's, um, growers conference.
We had a two day seminar. He, they came down to California. And learned the basics and purchased just a small system and they started producing really great crops. Next thing you know, they're building a commercial, greenhouse outfitted. We put systems in there for them, for, you know, commercial production.
They're now putting local high quality, local nutritious food into their food system. They're raising a family. It's a really, it's one of the great success stories, uh, in CA because I think that, that they, they highlight all of the. You know, all of what, what CA really is about and, and just amazing people.
Uh, Alex is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Um, and his wife and family are just really great people.
[00:25:58] Nick Greens: And then, uh, what about Christina [00:26:00] Johnson and NASA? You know, uh, Christina's just doing wonderful things with the microgreen program at NASA. So I'm very excited about that. And. Hopefully there they can get some microgreens to space.
I think it's really, really complicated to do that, but I know the peppers are already went to space. So they did get peppers. Uh, that's the space already?
[00:26:20] Joe Swartz: Well, the kind of worksheet does is, is just one of the things that moves this industry forward and good again, good people. Uh, that's really one of the things that I do want to just highlight that again, is that.
The, the people that I've met in this industry, and you sometimes hear some Nick and I complain off offline many times, uh, about some of the people, uh, less than reputable people in the industry. That's just common with every industry, of course. But, um, but one of the things that I want to say that I've really enjoyed over the years is that the people wonderful people in this industry, and we're so blessed to work with so many of them, uh, You know, people that put a lot into [00:27:00] it, Nicola curse, like, uh, from,
[00:27:01] Nick Greens: yeah, you can't forget about Nicole one that started indoor ag without
[00:27:07] Joe Swartz: her.
Exactly. Another nice, fine human being who really
[00:27:13] Nick Greens: she's got to other ventures. Right. She's just constantly just, I think she, is she an entrepreneur, like more,
[00:27:19] Joe Swartz: she's got a lot, maybe has got a lot going on and, and, you know, Contain has helped finance, uh, indoor farms. Greenhouse farms really helped in, in, you know, funding is, is, is always one of the big roadblocks to getting involved in controlled environment ag.
And so Nicola has done a. To do that. Um, uh, you know, one of the, one of the, the, the nicest, uh, or best ways that, that I've seen people being helped is to get started in the industry. We've talked about the knowledge piece, but also financing. That's a really big, important part. And people sometimes gloss over that.
It's not easy in banks. You know, banks are not always [00:28:00] so. Willing to say, oh, you want to start this hydroponic greenhouse? Sure. Here's a hundred thousand dollars and go right ahead. So
[00:28:08] Nick Greens: no, they don't know if you're growing corn. Yes. You can probably get a a hundred thousand dollar loan for growing.
[00:28:14] Joe Swartz: Yeah. I work with farm service agency.
I've I've had loans myself through them and they are, you know, one of the premier ag based Landers they're part of the USDA. And so, so they do a lot of, um, farm, farm funding, equipment land, and, you know, infrastructure. And now their, their understanding of controlled environment ag is, has expanded pretty, pretty significantly.
So, so it's good to see more opportunities for people. Because again,
[00:28:43] Nick Greens: I think a lot of people don't understand that a lot of the opportunities that are available in the countryside, you know, like there's a lot of farmers that have land. And they'll rent the land out to the farmer to farm the land and even split profits.
Right. There's different ways that they negotiate [00:29:00] contracts and
[00:29:00] Joe Swartz: stuff. Yeah. There's a lot of innovative ways. In fact, we should probably an upcoming podcast to
[00:29:05] Nick Greens: do a whole show on how that's
[00:29:07] Joe Swartz: done. Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I'm Jamie Agathon from grow strong. Another, another. Great. Uh, that's the lights that I use.
[00:29:16] Nick Greens: I just really stand behind their, um, their, their, their grow lights kind led grow lights are just, they're really, they're really incredible.
[00:29:26] Joe Swartz: One of our earlier guests, Patrick. You know, looking at developing, you know, good avenues for marketing, for produce, getting, getting fresh produce. Again, one of the big misnomers in this industry is the whole notion of if you're growing something, the world's going to beat a path to your door and that doesn't happen.
And so, you know, The marketing distribution end of it is a really important one. And I know that's, that's for, we have a few guests coming up in upcoming podcasts where we'll be talking about actually the, the marketing and [00:30:00] distribution end, which is a critically important part of that.
[00:30:03] Nick Greens: The distributors on too, as well, do a whole show on the distributors and how it works on their end as well.
[00:30:10] Joe Swartz: It's one of the most common questions I get actually is, is effective marketing, you know, and, uh, everyone has got, you know, kind of their favorite. Yeah direction, you know, whether you're selling larger volumes to grocery chains or you're running a farm standard CSA, or you're providing food to the schools, there's lots of different avenues.
And each one of them is, you know, has its own pitfalls and, and, and strengths and advantages. And so understanding how that applies to your particular applications, really, really simple.
[00:30:40] Nick Greens: I mean, I, I know somebody had told me once that the opportunities are coming at you take them. Cause you never know when they're going to say.
[00:30:47] Joe Swartz: Yeah, well for sure. And, and marketing is one that it's like your biological pest control. You know, it's not a once and done, you don't sell your lettuce to the local stop and shop, develop a, [00:31:00] you know, a good relationship. And then.
[00:31:02] Nick Greens: And that's all
[00:31:03] Joe Swartz: you do. Yeah. You were constantly, um, manipulating the, you know, your production to meet their needs and you have a constant relationship.
It's, it's a, it's a, it's a never ending give and take. And, um, I have never, in my years, I mean, it's 37 years in January as a. Ever had any sales or marketing relationship that just stayed static the whole
[00:31:29] Nick Greens: time. And the product placement at the grocery stores is part is if that's strong marketing or, or how much real estate in the grocery store you have, you know, and, uh, Well, what are they called?
Uh, not dictionaries other called, uh, the like, okay. So when, like, when you were at a grocery store, there's a hole there. I already know where everything's going to sit
[00:31:51] Joe Swartz: on the shelf placement. Yeah. And there's a term
[00:31:53] Nick Greens: for that name? I can't remember the term
[00:31:57] Joe Swartz: you're referring to. Yeah, the, um, but the, the product [00:32:00] placement changes all the time.
Uh, growers are constantly battling for,
[00:32:03] Nick Greens: for shelter. You've been real estate. Yeah. Real estate. How much shelf space do you
[00:32:08] Joe Swartz: have? Yeah, we've, we've a number of years gone to the PMA shell, the prep, the produce marketing association, biggest trade show. Anybody in this industry, when the PMA show, uh, comes in, there was, it was scheduled this fall in, um, new Orleans.
So unfortunately of course it was canceled, but the PMA shows an amazing show because you get an idea of what's going on in the produce industry, worldwide, um, grocery chains, producers distributors. Value added, uh, producers are all there. You get to see everything that's going on and it's, it's huge. It's absolutely unbelievable.
I think it takes all day to walk through the convention and you get to see everything, but you got a really good read on what's going on in the industry. So that's something that, um, anybody in the CA industry should think about.
[00:32:59] Nick Greens: So what I mean, so [00:33:00] like question for you is what do you, what do you, what do you see as needed right now, right now in industry?
[00:33:06] Joe Swartz: I really think based on everything that I'm seeing is that this industry is really going to small or small or mid scale localized agriculture. So anywhere in north America or the world, even that you are the opportunities to, to meet some market demand, you know, people say, well, you should just grow lettuce or you should just put tomatoes.
And, you know, app harvest is a great example of a phenomenal development CA but, but one of my concerns. That model is it's large scale industrial kind of style agriculture with long distance that's publicly traded. Yeah, I mean, but I mean, that was a great vehicle for, for additional funding. And I understand and respect that the, for me, what I see as the real.
Uh, opportunity anywhere you are. And this is whether you're looking to run a, uh, a larger [00:34:00] commercial facility or a small mom and pop, you know, the small, the small greenhouse is the, you know, 1000 to 10,000 square foot greenhouse has really, um, drive the local food systems. And so the ability to source.
Locate your food production in areas where maybe there's not food production or in areas that is conducive to the distribution
[00:34:24] Nick Greens: chain? No. What I've seen in the supermarket just lately, I went to go get my Rugo. Like I always do. You know, I, I eat a lot of regular. Um, so I went into. The whole shelf or greens was just gone.
There was nothing in the shelves. So that just the food shortage, I think is really, really bad that some of the smaller little towns is not getting some of the stuff that's grown in the city.
[00:34:51] Joe Swartz: It's, it's ironic to think about the ability that we have to produce food. And yet there still is a lot of, uh, challenges getting food, uh, to [00:35:00] serve
[00:35:00] Nick Greens: consistently.
That's the, one of the biggest challenges right now.
[00:35:03] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And you know, the, the, the, the fact that, you know, we can using CA. Put our food production and the fortunately the systems are flexible. You know, we have NFT systems that are producing lettuce in New Jersey and Bazell in New York and, you know, spinach and arugula in Florida.
And calm did various combinations all the way around of those you can produce for what your local market needs and is demanded using similar technologies or even the same systems. And so that really is the future. I think, uh, going forward, understanding which technologies work best for different regions and areas of climates, as well as production that that better matches.
The the, the local demands or the needs. One [00:36:00] of the big arguments that we've always heard is, you know, you should grow leafy greens, you should grow tomatoes, you should grow peppers. You know, there's no such thing. I mean, you, you should be producing what you can produce economically. Um, as well as matching to, to demand again, our, our operation in Massachusetts, we have grown.
We were at one point in time growing nothing but green, dead lettuce, and at another time growing nothing but sweet basil. And at many times growing a wide array of different products. So both to the market demand, as well as what works best for producers, your crop selection may be changing. You know, obviously leafy greens and CSA is such a huge, um, you know, growth portion of the industry because we're replacing a lot of field production with higher quality, more locally produced CA uh, production.
But certainly we're not limited to that. So I think that. As the industry grows and we're going to see [00:37:00] obviously more larger scale commercial facilities, but we're also seeing a lot of smaller and mid scale facilities again, specializing because we have, we have producers with small scale. Um, like, uh, Riverside growers where Alex is producing for his local community.
They're not shipping products. Great distances. Yeah. I
[00:37:19] Nick Greens: think products only get shipped no more than one state. Like we received, like the S the only lettuce that I seen in the store was coming from Michigan, which had said local. Yeah, which, because it's only across the lake, it's only what, 70 miles away.
[00:37:33] Joe Swartz: yeah, I mean, I mean, obviously sometimes there are, you know, larger distribution areas, but certainly the, the opportunity to get, to get more of your, of your product into your local community, you know, through. Sales did to, to national chains, to local chains, regional stores, all the way down to having onsite.
We, you know, for years we've run a winter green [00:38:00] CSA. So we have people that come to the farm to get their greens and purchase farm shares. And, uh, we have local farm stands that also sell hydroponically grown stuff. So, so again, there's no one right model, but certainly the local food. Production distribution.
Locally economy type model is really where I hope. Uh, and think that the industry is really going to shine. Um, so we have, you know, a lot of great opportunities to do that. How about our guests, Mark Thomas will Garfield produce.
[00:38:32] Nick Greens: I forget about Mark Thomas. It's the oldest, that's the oldest facility that I have under my belt that I had built and designed.
Uh, I helped him build that whole design place. And, you know, a lot of him helped, uh, you know, tune it up and, and, you know, cause you, you don't just build something and it just works out of the box. So it took a while for him to tune up the room. But they're, I mean, they're looking really good, their systems, everything is just running still.
[00:38:56] Joe Swartz: So, but his food is, is in local community.
[00:38:59] Nick Greens: [00:39:00] Correct. And they're focused heavily on cilantro right now. Oh, yeah.
[00:39:04] Joe Swartz: Okay. That's very cool. Um, how about Jake, Jake Emelyn? Remember from route four to
[00:39:10] Nick Greens: two? Yeah, actually he just called me when we were on the phone call right now. He just, me and Jake talk off then.
Jake's a really good friend of mine, Jake, but Jake let's talk about Jake Jake's. Well, you know, we had him on the show. He was talking about his one greenhouse on his property. He has it in front, the front yard of his house, right? Like in front of you, you drive up to LA you see the greenhouse first and then you see his house
[00:39:33] Joe Swartz: because that's where he spends most of his time.
[00:39:37] Nick Greens: So then he just put the second one. So now he's got two greenhouses on his property and he's just telling me that I got to go move to Ohio and, and help them because it's. Like you said there, that the opportunity for local is just as huge.
[00:39:52] Joe Swartz: Jake was another guy that I really admired because he spent so much time and effort on focused on high quality crop production, [00:40:00] understanding his nutritional management, understanding his environment and, and balancing that with positive economics.
We hear this all the time about, you know, especially when we look at higher levels of technology or higher levels of automation, and certainly there are applications for that, but no one level of technology or automation is the be all end all. And so one of the things that Jake had a really, you know, always focused in on in his career is positive economic outcome through high quality crop production, you know, using what works.
I've always been a big believer in that. And when other growers. Follow that model, you can't help it, but really admire that. And he
[00:40:40] Nick Greens: does way more than just that. I mean, he can CAD draw. He can run printers, you know, 3d printers, like I've, I've seen him 3d print the greenhouse. Uh, when I was working at crop kin crop king built the whole greenhouse, uh, 3d print it and Rick is the one that 3d print, the [00:41:00] whole greenhouse.
No kidding. He had to do it in sections of course. And do all the parts to build the, build the greenhouse. But it was, it was a gorgeous, I mean, yeah. Jay, Jake is, Jake is just very, very talented and I think he could, I think he could possibly learn anything and just get it really fast, you know?
[00:41:17] Joe Swartz: Yeah.
Speaking of, of high quality production and focusing again on the combination of high yield high quality. And economic output, probably one of my favorite guests. And we actually had him for two parts. Two episodes was, um, Richard Richard. Uh, if you haven't listened to that, if you at all care about environmental control.
Go back and listen to those people. So
[00:41:44] Nick Greens: 30 and episode 31,
[00:41:46] Joe Swartz: there you go. Yeah. Richard Richard was awesome. I met Richard a couple of years ago and we talked and talked about the crave owes model, which really, um, and, uh, the, the craveable [00:42:00] retractable roof green houses are really they're specialists in, in harsh high temperature climates, uh, tropical climates, hot and Erin climates.
And again, utilizing proper horticultural concepts. So there he's focused on not what the air temperature in the greenhouse is, but what the plant leaf temperature is, and that's what drives our crop growth. And so for a long time, uh, our air temperature and a greenhouse had a very heavily heavy influence on what that leave temperature is, but it's not the, the, the be all end all or the high end.
So actually Richard's approach was let's focus on the plant, what the plant needs, but also what the plant is currently doing and making adjustments accordingly and, you know, and the results speak for themselves that the quality of crops. I know Richard's got, uh, greenhouses here in north America, but also in places.
India, uh, where they battle high temperature, very harsh [00:43:00] growing conditions, and they grow amazing quality crops and enriches approach is really a big part of that. So Richard, Richard is definitely a guy I want to have back on. Uh, he, he was definitely a guy that I could talk to. You know, sometimes the plant geek in me comes out too much when we started.
Going into it, but, but that's a, an amazing approach. And speaking of plant geeks and someone I love talking to is our good friend VJ Repatha from
[00:43:26] Nick Greens: can't forget Oasis,
[00:43:28] Joe Swartz: no VJ. Uh, again, I've known him for a long time. Uh, VJ has opened my eyes to a number of, uh, concepts in seedling production. Um, that, that has helped me.
Crop production for sure. And, um, we, we were lucky enough to, to share the stage with them. We, we did the, um, uh, indoor ag conversations online with VJ. And then we, we did this past year and our ag con uh, with both Ricardo and which Ricardo we have to get on our, uh, yeah, he's
[00:43:57] Nick Greens: definitely got to be on the.
[00:43:59] Joe Swartz: [00:44:00] And, and VJ. I mean just what a wealth of knowledge and again, a subject near and dear to my heart is high quality seedling production. Because if you haven't heard me say it at least a hundred million times, I'll say it again. You're only. Crop is only as good as your ceiling production and you can't have high quality crops without high quality sealing production and VJ, um, through his
[00:44:23] Nick Greens: master when it comes to the medium
[00:44:25] Joe Swartz: and a nice and I really a nice
[00:44:27] Nick Greens: guy.
Oh, yes, yes, yes. And then, then we can't forget about CO2 grow dill over at CO2 grow. That was a really, really good podcast. I think it's number two or three on our, on our most viewed podcast. Oh, wow.
[00:44:41] Joe Swartz: Yeah. So, um, so if I had to guess my favorite, I really can't. I can't choose. I mean, I have so many all of them and all, and that's one thing that I hope all of you listening will continue to send us your feedback.
[00:45:00] Because as a grower, as a person who loves this industry, I admire so many of these folks because they're. Dedicated to what they're doing. They have specific expertise, you know, you know, someone like Kelly, um, or. Uh, or mark who focus on technologies that are to elevate the industry to, to make things better on the African about
[00:45:25] Nick Greens: Roberto mess out too.
We can't forget about Emeril. And the work that Roberto messes is doing in Colorado is all community based like he's I would say he's definitely got the spear on, on, on really building a good community in Colorado.
[00:45:43] Joe Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so you have people like Murat and Jean who are educating people, Neal who's, educating and driving such great research search, uh, mark, who, uh, is, is distributing.
Um, you know, Richard again, Providing [00:46:00] technologies and focusing on growing Julie, who's building greenhouses, you know, Steven who is educating and we're going to get Stephen Ritz back. Steven was one of the, also one of the most talked about, uh,
[00:46:11] Nick Greens: he's definitely my favorite. I'm sorry. I think, I think it's just because I like his weirdness.
I just vibe with the weird, I like weird the weirder you are. I really want you to be my friend
[00:46:23] Joe Swartz: for those of you who weren't at indoor icon. Nick and Stephen and I spent a lot of time together and, and Steven reds is a guy he's one of my favorite people in the world. He is just, um, the work he does with empowering and educating young people and really developing, you know, our future.
Uh, and he incorporates CA into that. So, well, um, just
[00:46:49] Nick Greens: energy he brings into this industry is just so like, it's just amazing.
[00:46:53] Joe Swartz: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, just, just a, an amazing person. So, so really, [00:47:00] eh, if you haven't heard, uh, Nick and I really appreciate the, the support that you've all given us, but also the, the wonderful people in this industry that are moving the industry forward.
And our, basically our next year's goals are around that. We've. Upcoming. We've got a whole bunch of really great guests lined up. Both people who are growing, who are out in the industry, the growers they're making things happen every day that are running successful. CA
[00:47:28] Nick Greens: even to the executives and industry as well, too.
[00:47:31] Joe Swartz: People providing technology, who's innovating in the technology. We're actually working on a project. Yam, hydro is working on a project right now. I can't say too much about it. Well, we are working with, um, developer of software and AI technology, um, to, to provide a whole new, uh, uh, platform, uh, for high quality growing and CA production that we're hoping is going to revolutionize the industry.
We've got so many great [00:48:00] new technological company. Uh, a lot of older established companies, but a lot of new ones as well, looking again, to provide effective technologies. I think with a lot of the investment that went into a lot of the indoor farming technologies and kind of that bubble that, that created.
And obviously there's a lot of great things that have come out of that. But I think now the industry is really starting to mature a little bit and we're seeing a lot more focus on. Productive technologies both from a crop standpoint, but also from an economic standpoint. And, and that's where I think things are going to exponentially move forward.
So we're going to have the people on the ground using these technologies and growing. We're going to have people developing this technology. We're going to, we're going to have conversations with you and other people about. Uh, how to develop a new growing technology, new growing methodology that will improve things greatly.
We're going to really focus on food safety and food distribution. That's another really critically important
[00:48:58] Nick Greens: part to employee training too, [00:49:00] as well. You know? Uh, on demand, video based training, you know, so that way everyone's getting the equals trainings as possible, you know,
[00:49:08] Joe Swartz: and that's a, uh, one that through your input, you know, the emails that I've gotten, then Nick has gotten in the calls.
People want to know more about growing. So we're going to start doing growing, uh, discussions. We're going to start talking about specific crops or a specific growing techniques. And we're going to really dig in a little bit deeper and try to provide some working knowledge. We have. We love having guests on they, they always have great information
[00:49:33] Nick Greens: and please send in your questions.
We can have mark anonymous. We won't mention your name with the problems that you have, but the more problems that we know out there, the better we can help everyone out there. Cause you know, most likely the problem you're having 30 other people are having that same.
[00:49:48] Joe Swartz: Yeah. 30 at least. Yeah, absolutely. And, and that's the last piece is that we're, we're looking to do some, uh, forums.
We're working on some of the technology right now to, to host [00:50:00] a larger forum, a group Q and a groups discussions. That's one of the things. And again, the, the conversations we had at indoor outcome this year really highlighted that is that that people really need and want to have. Open discussions, open and honest discussions.
We can agree. We can disagree. We can share information, share our successes and share our failures. I tend to think Sharon failures tends
[00:50:24] Nick Greens: to be, yeah, well, we need to highlight the failure part. I think. Well, I mean, we'll, we're we're human species and the way humans work is we work by our failures. Yeah.
Well, the only reason why, you know, what girl you like is because all the bad girls you had, you didn't like
[00:50:40] Joe Swartz: now we're, now, now we're starting to dig a little too far into your past there. But, um, yeah. And when I was, when I used to fight competitive, Um, my trainer used to always put his arm around me and smile, and I always just say pain is the best teacher.
And so, so a lot of that, and you know, it's a little tongue in cheek, but a [00:51:00] lot of, all of us have had the same problems and same challenges. And especially as we educate more, you new people into the industry, learn from our mistakes, learn from our failures. That's how we. Improve our technology and that's how we grow together.
Yeah. So what we're going to, um, again, over the next year, we're going to have a lot of great guests. We're going to be really digging into the actual commercial part of the industry, and we want to address things that you're interested in. So, um, we're going to set it up. So please keep your eyes and ears open.
We're going to have, um, some great conversations we want to hear from you. And, uh, we're looking forward to having some great discussions. So, and if you
[00:51:37] Nick Greens: would like to help the program, just go ahead and donate to our Patrion. Uh, we do have a Patrion. It should be in the description. Uh, that money definitely helps us just with the production and just getting the show a lot better and just buying more equipment to, uh, kind of just develop a better show for, uh, for the, for the.
[00:51:56] Joe Swartz: Absolutely. Thank you very much for everyone, for all of your [00:52:00] support and good wishes and questions and comments and input. Um, that's what makes this show valuable to all of us. So thank you again for this first year. We're really grateful for you joining us and we're looking forward, uh, to, to many great things to come.
So thanks again for spending some time with us, and we look forward to spending time with you again very, very soon. So have a great board woman and we'll talk to you soon.