Farmer Lee Jones and his family have been farming in and around Huron, Ohio, for generations, owing to the land’s rich, sandy loam, a vestige from when it was lake bottom.
Like their colleagues at the time, the family cultivated cash crops like beans, corn, and soy for sale to large wholesale buyers. But Mother Nature had a surprise in store for the Joneses, one that would upend their lives and completely reinvent their business model.
“In 1982, we had a devastating hailstorm and it wiped everything out,” explains Jones. “We auctioned everything off, right down to my mother’s car and our house, and we started over.”
But starting over did not mean doing the same-old things. Following some advice from a friend, the family began moving away from cultivating commodity crops, in which the goal was to grow as much food as possible in as small a plot as possible, and toward growing specialty produce for chefs.