There’s been an intriguing development in the supermarket world:
Wegmans, the East Coast chain with 70 stores, has founded its own organic research farm in upstate New York. The farm, which is nearby company CEO Danny Wegman’s home, is apparently the first organic farm owned by any food retailer. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle recently filed a lengthy story on the 50-acre farm:
The farm’s mission, according to Wegman, is to provide locally grown fruits, vegetables and honey to nearby Wegmans stores and, eventually, to serve as an educational model for local growers, employees and consumers who want to learn about organic food production.
The farm saves its seeds and has a separate garden where it tests varieties for their viability. But the farm, which will be certified organic in a few months, holds more than an academic interest for Wegman. He wants it to be independently profitable: If it doesn’t make money, it isn’t a model, he says. Wegman’s hoping to use the farm’s success to persuade other growers for the chain to switch to organic methods.
Hilariously, the farm only exists because Wegman wanted to build a really, really big barn (44 feet high, 7,200 square feet). But according to local zoning law, you can only have a barn that size if it serves some sort of agricultural purpose. Voilà! An organic research farm!