Jones is well known in the artisan farming movement as the farmer who wears bib overhauls over a white collared shirt topped by a red bowtie.
Farmer Lee Jones works with others on The Chef’s Garden, a sustainable farm near Lake Erie in Ohio. The farm is using sensors to detect soil moisture and other environmental readings to manage water usage.
Chefs from restaurants as far away as Hong Kong will request a certain squash or squash flower, or lettuce that has grown to a certain height. "The market drives what we do," Jones said in an interview.
The farm has produced more than 800 varieties of vegetables and is well known for eight different squash varieties planted 15 different times a year. Lettuce is planted 52 times a year. Sometimes a chef will request petite lettuce or petite carrots that are only 1.5 inches long.
Verizon's sensor technology has been in place for about two months with a laboratory set up in an old semi-tractor trailer. "In the past, we've watered through intuition," Jones said. "But the technology verifies if our intuition is on or off a little, so it's more precise. It's very exciting to see the possibilities. This will revolutionize agriculture. This can really help on the small farm scale.
"This is sustainability on a small scale," he said. "There's a revolution going on."
Verizon has also partnered with ITK, a crop modeling company, to work with three California vineyards on irrigation management.
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