Alex Tyink – Fork Farms – Ep 16

Alex Tyink, President at Fork Farms

In this episode of “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork”, we’re joined by Alex Tyink from Fork Farms, who we will be talking to about how their advanced vertical farm system is working towards reducing the amount of annual food and resource loss within the fresh produce industry.


[00:00:00] Mitchell Denton: Hi there and welcome to “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork”, the PostHarvest podcast that interviews people of interest across the food supply chain.

Today on our show, I’m joined by Alex Tyink from Fork Farms, who I’ll be talking to about how their advanced vertical farm system is working towards reducing the amount of annual food and resource loss within the fresh produce industry.

So with no further delays, let’s get started.

Hi, Alex. Thanks for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

[00:00:27] Alex Tyink: I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.

[00:00:29] Mitchell Denton: Oh, no worries. Before we get into it. I just wanted to give you the opportunity to tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do, and while you’re at it, maybe just a fun, little fact about yourself that most people don’t know.

[00:00:42] Alex Tyink: Yeah, sure. So I’m the President and CEO of Fork Farms, which is a agriculture technology company based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the US and we make and manufacture the most efficient indoor farming systems on the planet and really focus on engaging people more with fresh food. 

And so, you know, we don’t really see ourselves as a vertical farming company, we don’t even really see ourselves being an agriculture company at the end of the day. This is all about engagement, but, um, yeah, to answer your question, fun fact about me, uh, that most people don’t know. I was an opera singer in my first career. 

[00:01:24] Mitchell Denton: Wow. Okay. That’s fantastic. I mean, how long were you an opera singer for?

[00:01:30] Alex Tyink: Oh, well, it’s what I went to school for. Um, I studied classical music and then, uh, yeah, I, uh, had a contract out of school for two years, kept at it for another couple of years after that, but found this paths during that time. 

[00:01:46] Mitchell Denton: Do you keep up with your operatic singing at all?

[00:01:51] Alex Tyink: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t think I can still consider myself an opera singer just like Arnold Schwartzenegger isn’t really a bodybuilder anymore, right? 

[00:01:59] Mitchell Denton: Sure, sure. Oh, wow. I didn’t see that coming, so that’s, that’s quite a fun fact. 

[00:02:05] Alex Tyink: Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love it. But, uh, yeah, it takes a lot of practice and training to, to be decent at it. 

[00:02:13] Mitchell Denton: Still, it’s a bit of a party trick that you can pull out from time to time. I’m sure. 

[00:02:18] Alex Tyink: Yeah, it helps, you know, after a little later in the evening, if you catch my meaning. 

[00:02:23] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, that’s right. Well, continuing on from you telling us what you do, would you mind telling us about how the idea for Fork Farms and more consumer facing AgTech first came about?

[00:02:35] Alex Tyink: Yeah, absolutely. So, that’s actually a great segue because I was singing opera in New York City, and by chance met this gentleman who was growing food on a rooftop. And I thought a rooftop, like I’ve never heard anything like that before. Like people growing food in the middle of this huge city and I had to see it.

And so I ended up volunteering for this guy because it was just a beautiful location, it was overlooking the Manhattan skyline in Brooklyn and I’m from Wisconsin originally, which is a very, um, there’s a lot of nature and wilderness and, you know, I grew up very connected to that and, you know, just needed a way to get outside, frankly.

And, um, it was a pretty cool mission, all the food that he was growing, he was feeding himself and his friends and family, but all the rest of the food, we were feeding the community where we’re, you know, bringing to this food pantry that was literally in the same building of where the farm was. 

And I just thought that that was a cool microcosm example of a, of a urban ecosystem, really working, you know, people who usually would never have access to that kind of food, uh, having access to it and really enjoying it and really appreciative of it.

And, at the end of the summer, he let me bring a bunch of food home and that was really the first time I had ever grown my own food. And when I brought it home, my eating habits really almost changed overnight. I started taking a lot better care of myself because of it. 

I started to really appreciate food in a different way, I was thinking about food a different way, and it was really for the first time that I was conscious about what I was eating and putting in my body. And, and really for me, it was a mental health shift, as I, I had this really kind of transformative moment where I just started feeling better about myself and you know, all these things.

And, uh, I had this idea like, man, if you could just help people grow food, they might be more connected to it like me and they might eat better and then maybe they’d have the same experience. And I think to this day, that’s still what Fork Farms is all about. 

[00:04:48] Mitchell Denton: Yeah wow. That’s quite a cool beginning. So, what would you say is the mission behind Fork Farms and how has your objective focus really formed the way the business operates?

[00:04:58] Alex Tyink: Yeah, well, our mission, as you could imagine, I suppose, is to grow happier, healthier people, and to unleash the power of fresh food, because we believe that we don’t need all of our food grown. You know, a couple of places in the world anymore. 

We believe that you can go back to full circle in a way to a model where the community is more in control of their food supply chain and that when you do that, there are all sorts of benefits, whether it be environmental, less carbon impact and less impact on climate change and less fresh water usage and fossil fuel usage to the human impact of being more connected and engaged with your food and therefore eating better. 

You know, I’ll tell you we’ve done some preliminary studies with this and we’ve seen, you know, already with, with the initial data as much as a 46% increase in positive perception of fresh food. And perception we’re learning is the leading indicator of behaviour. So for example, if you feel better about your car, you’re more likely to take better care of it.

Um, like if your perception of your car is better, you’re more likely to, you know, get the oil change when you’re, when you’re supposed to and things like that. And the same is true for all of our behaviours where we’ve learned through clinical studies that are out there. 

And so that’s really what we’re focusing on, uh, in, in many ways is, is how does this program transform perception of fresh food? And then does that change in perception, ultimately lead to a change in consumption? 

And so through this, can we help communities eat better because they want to not because they feel like they have to? And then how do we give them a tool where they can grow food affordably and more efficiently. 

[00:06:41] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, that’s great. So what would you say separates Fork Farms from other vertical or indoor farm system?

[00:06:48] Alex Tyink: Well, when I started doing this work, I, I first started buying what was off the shelf available at the time. Um, I started putting up these, you know, tower type systems and these horizontal rack type systems. And we were using what was there and really where it started is outdoors, actually. 

As I started building a couple outdoor gardens for New York public schools, and it was fine because, you know, they were growing food, but it didn’t really work because the kids would plant the food in the spring and they would harvest in the fall and they’d miss everything in between, the actual work was done by volunteers and teachers and parents and that’s just not what this is about, it’s not where the magic happens. 

And so, we tried to bring it indoors and what we learned is that a lot of the technologies, all the technologies actually that, um, were available at the time. I mean, it was costing us anywhere from. $4 to $12 a pound just to grow the food.

And I’ve since learned through working with a lot of different communities all over the place that, you know, there are some operations that are growing food for as high as $17, $18 a pound, believe it or not. 

So they have to sell the product for way above market rates for this to work. And if you’re a low-income school that serves kids that really need fresh food, you don’t have the resources to really do a deep investment into that level of quality increase on the food side. 

It’s a big challenge. And so for me, it was, man, if we could just figure out a way to do it more cost-effectively, we may really have something. 

And so I started doing a lot of experimentation, and the core concept that we have is that when you put the right type of light around the right type of reflective surfaces, the light bounces around you recapture the energy and you don’t need to use as much to grow the same amount of food.

So I didn’t figure out how to grow more food with the same amount of energy. I figured out how to grow the same amount of food was significantly less energy. 

And energy and labour are the two biggest costs in indoor farming. And so from there, we just learned from our customers backed into labor efficiencies.

And now we can confidently say that we can grow food for less than a dollar per pound. 

[00:08:56] Mitchell Denton: Wow. That’s awesome. Yeah. Resource waste really seems to be that factor that a lot of people just don’t really seem to take into consideration. So that’s really awesome. 

So what seems to be for farms biggest challenge right now and how do you and your team plan to overcome it?

[00:09:29] Alex Tyink: Yeah, another great question. We’ve been in operation, kind of formally since 2017. That was when we raised our first initial capital, went to market with the first generation of our product. Um, we’re now in the fourth generation of our product, which is called the Flex Farm. 

And you know, I would say that at this stage, in our growth, we’ve really figured out where our partners are, where our customers are, and where the communities are that we really feel like we can make an impact with and how to reach those folks. 

And so now our key is just figuring out how do we get there and how do we get there as quickly as possible?

And so I think the challenge that we’re facing as a team is how do we scale this business and how do we do it with a lot of intentionality? You know, focused on making sure that we grow a great company with a great culture, but also that has a great impact, both for the communities that we’re serving and also for the investors and shareholders that have supported us along the way, which is a, sometimes a tricky balance to strike. 

[00:10:29] Mitchell Denton: No, definitely. I’ve, I’ve noticed just from some of the things you’ve been talking about earlier and just the constant theme I’ve noticed with guests on this show is the over-reliance we as a society have on centralised food systems. 

Is the use of Flex Farms and equipping people with the tools to grow their own vegetables, your own way of contributing to the conversation through providing an independent solution?

[00:10:54] Alex Tyink: I think so. Um, you know, when we first started this work, the idea of a decentralised food system didn’t really exist. I think for me at the time it was more, Hey, if we’re going to do this right, we have to grow enough food to feed a lot of people. And real people have to have the ability and the accessibility with the product to be able to do it themselves.

And that’s the recipe for success for us. And I think from that, we’ve learned that. You know, the whole market seems to be shifting in that direction, which I think is pretty fortuitous to the business, but you’re seeing it in meat, you’re seeing it in a lot of different areas where, you know, people are realising that these long shipping supply chains and these long distances, it breeds increased risk and foodborne illness.

It, it breeds increased costs, uh, to the end user. It’s much less resilient. We learn that through COVID, especially in the states. I can’t speak for other areas of the world, but we had, you know, even people who could afford food, it just wasn’t available because it had to get tilled under in Salinas Valley, California, Yuma, Arizona, where the majority of our domestic produce is grown.

It just got tilled under because there was no one to drive trucks to get the produce tip from A to B and there wasn’t labour available to harvest produce. 

And if you think about putting a food system in a school, in a food pantry, in your home and in a way that you’re growing so much of that produce where you never have to buy certain food products ever again, it flips that equation on its head, where all of a sudden that food that’s being grown locally has the most value because it’s the highest quality, but it’s also the lowest cost and it has the most engagement, you can create community around that.

And through that community, you can really do all sorts of creative, fun things. You can connect people together, you can create a food system that’s based on much more than just price. 

And I think, I think that’s where we have to go because that’s what food is. Food is not a commodity and we treat it like it’s been a commodity for so long and food is, is culture, and food is our history, and food is our family, and food is so much more than just this products that you buy. 

And I think that, we’ve learned almost how to de-value it over time. And I think there, there needs to be a revaluation of food.

And when I say food, I mean, good food, food that nourishes people and food that takes care of people and takes care of our society in a way that I think some of these processed foods which is, you know, 60%, at least in the US of all the caloric intake, which leads directly to chronic disease. You know, we know this, uh, heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, cancer.

We know that the food rating is killing us, and so we have to do something. 

[00:13:36] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve had a previous guest on talking about the health star rating in Australia. And it’s very much what you’re talking about here, where it’s it’s rating the ingredients before they’ve gone through the processing system. Not necessarily what the finished product is. So that’s quite interesting to hear.

I was going to ask you this at a later point, but it seems like we’ve already kind of touched on it a little bit. I just wanted to know if the COVID pandemic and everything that’s kind of been brought on from that if a better or worse that’s had any effect on your day to day operations.

[00:14:08] Alex Tyink: Yeah, it’s been complex, I would say, in a way from a survivor’s guilt kind of standpoint. I think it’s benefited our business to be honest, in that the market really sees the need for this type of technology and the type of thinking in a way that, you know, I think COVID is a catalyst for it.

Um, And, you know, we’ve we’ve, we ended 2020 was the biggest year we had ever had 2021 is, you know, significantly more than 2020. 

And we, we we’ve been on a pretty exponential growth curve, which we feel very fortunate and blessed for. But on the flip side, there’s global inflation, there’s massive supply chain, disruption still happening everywhere, and we’ve been victim to that just like everybody else. 

You know, it’s been a pretty big project for us to make sure that we can continue to ship a product and that the product stays an affordable price. I just have to kind of give it to our team that, you know, we’ve got a, a great operations leader and we’ve got a lot of great partners out there.

And, early on, we decided to do domestic manufacturing, so we do all of our manufacturing within a hundred mile radius of our headquarters in Green Bay. 

And we did that intentionally at the time because local food, local manufacturing, support the local economy, it felt really aligned to our value system, but in the midst of all of this international economic disruption, it’s really played to our benefit where now our suppliers are a hundred miles away and we have close connection to them, and we have a lot of predictability on our supply chain, and a lot of controls still in place, and that’s something that we have that I’m not sure everybody does. 

[00:15:45] Mitchell Denton: I got to say, it’s kind of refreshing to have a guest on who seems to be really growing through this season of time. Uh, it seems to be quite a messy situation for quite a few others. So it’s really nice to hear a bit of a positive outcome. 

So from where you stand, what would you identify as being one of the biggest pain points or blind spots within the traditional farming industry? And what can vertical farming do to solve this?

[00:16:09] Alex Tyink: My context here is really more on the United States food system, and I know a lot of your listeners are international, and so I’ll preface this answer by saying that I can’t speak with a very deep knowledge of the international food economy. 

But I do think that the trend is global in that monoculturing conglomeration of food production is pretty much happening everywhere. And in the US it’s particularly troublesome because we tend to subsidise crops that they feed the world, quote unquote, but they don’t necessarily feed our bodies, they don’t nourish our bodies. 

And so we’re left with a food system where some of these most processed foods that have some of the most cost in terms of input cost, are the most affordable.

And I think that that has had a ripple effect through multiple generations now, in terms of the health of our society both mentally and physically. 

It’s been on a decline. This is sometimes hard to talk about, but obesity is, you know, two thirds of every adult in the US is considered overweight or obese.

And it’s about a third of all children and if the trend lines continue about a third of every US adult is going to have type two diabetes by the year 2050, I mean, it is bleak, right? I mean, that is bleak and scary and you know, not to mention wildfires and drought and you know, the, the, the watershed that feeds, you know, our real, you know, produce generating area in Southern California is, is literally dried up and there doesn’t really seem to be a plan. 

[00:17:50] Mitchell Denton: Yeah.

[00:17:52] Alex Tyink: I think that our food system has gotten so institutionalised and I’m of the belief that it’s not anybody’s fault. I think that, you know, we live in a capitalist society. There are obvious profit motivations but there has to be just because of how our society is structured and everyone who’s doing the work out there is just doing the best they can.

I really believe that, and I think there are obviously examples where that’s not the case, but I, I really believe that the majority of people mean really well. And so, you know, I don’t think that conventional agriculture is the evil here. 

I think the necessity is an investment in innovation, that’s what we have failed to do is we have failed to, you know, really put priority on the emerging opportunity and vertical farming is in my opinion, one of, if not the top opportunities that we have to really transform the food system in a way that is gonna make a significant benefit on the future generations.

And, I think it’s gonna look a lot of different ways, you see a lot of these companies that are building massive indoor farms and they’re getting massive investment by saying, you know, that’s an opportunity. I think companies like ours that are looking to, you know, have average people, real people who just want to help their community, you know, take it on for themselves. 

And I, and I think, you know, that sort of thinking and acceptance of, of multiple opportunities and multiple options, you know, in that is, is really what the solution has to look like, because we don’t have enough time to fight over this, right? 

I mean, I really think it’s gotten to the point where, if we don’t accept that our food system’s going to look different and if we don’t all pivot towards that, I think that, you know, we, we run an even greater risk. 

[00:19:41] Mitchell Denton: No, absolutely. I totally agree though. I feel like traditional farming has served us well for as long as we’ve been a society, really. And it’s definitely got its merit and it’s place. But in all industries, innovation has always been a necessity, uh, for us to kind of grow and improve and do better.

 And I think people kind of size up indoor farming to traditional farming and, I mean, indoor farming is still very much in its infancy and its potential and capabilities are still yet to be seen. But like you were saying, I don’t think traditional farming is necessarily the bad guy in this situation. 

There’s just that need for innovation and for us to kind of push the boundaries and develop, and it’s getting to a point where it’s a necessity now, we really do need to kind of lean into that more. 

[00:20:25] Alex Tyink: Yeah, I completely agree. I mean, if, if we create a market for the solutions that we need, I firmly believe that those solutions will be created. 

I just think the trouble is, you know, companies like ours. It’s like sometimes we feel a little bit like Apple in the eighties, right?

I’m not trying to compare us to the, the Apple Company, but, uh, you know, people didn’t really know why they needed a personal computer, right? 

They had a typewriter that maybe had just bought an electric typewriter and that was working for them. So why do I need this expensive, new fangled piece of technology, right? 

And, and in doing that, you have to create the market. You have to really help people understand why this piece of technology is the future and, you know, help people almost let go of the past. And I think that that aspect of this I think has been, you know, some of the most difficult, right?

And, and if there had been a market more well tilled, pun intended, I suppose. You know, it, it just, it, it would’ve, it would’ve if the incentives would have been in place. And if, and if we do put the incentives in place, I feel strongly that the people are out there to go address those market opportunities. 

[00:21:37] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, absolutely. So following on this thread, what’s the biggest surprise you’ve found with working to provide a food solution that removes the food supply chain from the equation?

[00:21:48] Alex Tyink: Yeah. I have been really surprised by the acceptance of this. I mean, my context in this is that, you know, I started giving the first one away to a boys and girls club, which is like an afterschool program in, in the US and, uh, you know, to feed some kids, see what they thought, you know, get some initial reaction from folks that have been funded by a philanthropic donor, right? 

And from there, I got like five calls and from teachers and, you know, restauranteurs, and people all over the place like, Hey, I know I do this? And from there I placed one in a Goodwill, which was like a thrift store community centre. It got picked up by USA today, which is, you know, obviously a huge newspaper in the US and from there it’s just been kind of exponential.

I mean, it’s just, you know, I think what we’ve learned is that if you really live the promise, and if you do what you tell people you’re going to do, and if you really just service the crap out of your partners, and really help them, and really lean into your mission, more follows. 

And, and we’re on this, this growth curve now that I think I never could have anticipated because at the time it was just this labour of love and this passion project that like, I almost didn’t really care how big it got, I just think. I don’t know, I just, I just wanted to do it more because of my personal experience with it. 

Um, and now we’re finding that like, you’re really does work. Like more people are having that same experience and it is working and they help us find other people who want to have that same experience.

And that sort of kind of organic traction to me was unexpected, but it is really encouraging, and, and really exciting and, and kind of, from my point of view, and haven’t been at this for awhile now and just a bit hard to believe in daunting in a way. 

But it is exciting and it shows that the world is ready, I think for, for us to lean into food and food production and, and really get conscious about it. 

[00:23:49] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, it’s great to hear these positive receptions, but I’m just wondering, what’s a misconception that you find a lot of people seem to have about indoor farming, or more specifically around the Flex Farm?

[00:24:02] Alex Tyink: Hmm, good question. I think, um, you know, at times I think people who look at hydroponics has this, like franken-food, they don’t understand it. And it doesn’t make sense how you could grow food without soil, and it doesn’t seem right. I think there’s like this preconception of, you know, hydroponically grown food, maybe doesn’t taste quite as good.

And I will say that like the first kind of commercially grown hydroponic tomatoes, maybe left something to be desired. Um, you know, but, uh, people, you know, also are living maybe in 1960, I think, you know, the technology and the science has improved so much that we know for a fact that this is not the case and that quality at this point has so much more to do with freshness than it does with the practice that you use to get there.

So, yeah. There’s, there’s, uh, you know, some misconceptions around this word, organic, which I think is interesting because all food is organic because it’s a carbon based life form. And we think about the inputs and making sure that they, you know, are naturally born and, um, I, I think that’s complex.

It’s not as simple as it just being, enzymatic, nutrient coming from soil that, you know, has all sorts of microorganisms in it and things like that. Like it, it doesn’t have to look like that for it to still be environmentally sustainable. And I think there’s some purists out there that just believe that, there’s only one way to do this.

And I’m not saying that that way is the wrong way. I think, I think it’s both. I think you have to be thinking in terms of regenerative agriculture and putting our land into a practice, that’s more, long-term sustainable rebuilding top soil quality, removing salts from top soil, this is critical work. Using the land as a carbon sequestration technology, frankly has to happen.

But also we have to shorten food supply chains, and we have to work to eliminate the last mile problem as much as possible because it’s the most inefficient mile. 

It’s the most carbon intensive from a shipping and delivery standpoint. So, I really think it’s all of the above and I think sometimes people get a bit entrenched in it being one way. 

And I think part of it to your point is that indoor ag is a bit unknown still, right? There’s a lot of examples of indoor ag out there where it is really inefficient, right? 

And it’s not the best example of what it can be, so I think we’re fighting that a little bit and as the industry matures, I’m hoping that it opens up. 

[00:26:30] Mitchell Denton: Yeah, no, totally. So when it comes to food loss and sustainability, what’s the biggest area related to your role that you’re curious about and why? Or to put it in another way, what are some of the things you’re researching the most right now?

[00:26:45] Alex Tyink: We are thinking a lot about how to deepen engagement. So we’re working a lot with partners, staying in really close contact. Um, really looking at longevity, right? We want to think multi-generational in everything we do. So how do we get there? You know, how do we make sure that these units never collect dust?

How do we make sure that they survive for decades and decades? They aren’t designed with any sort of planned obsolescence. Like we want people to, to buy them and then put them into production for 30, 40 years, that’s our, that’s our goal. But how do we, how do we make sure we can do it with a company that’s only four or five years old, right?

So there’s a lot of emphasis on that, there’s a lot of emphasis on how do we build the systems internally to ensure renewability um, because you know, our device is, uh, a recyclable plastic, right? 

But it’s still a plastic, and so we never want that to end up in a landfill. And so how do we build the systems where we can repurpose the technology?

Um, you know, we’ve, we’ve taken a lot of leads from the company and Patagonia, thinking through like, you know, how do people ship this thing back to us? and how do we repurpose it and really, really lean into our mission and everything we do. How do we, you know, expand the crop options? How do we make it even more efficient?

How do we drop that cost to production even further? How do we serve folks who want to serve more and more people. I mean, one of the trend lines of our businesses, it used to be almost every installation we did, it was one or two Flex Farm systems. Well, you know, now we’re doing installations of a hundred or more.

And so for us, it’s thinking through how do we really serve that partner as best as we possibly can with the best information and the best technology and yeah, it all, it’s all really fun though. I mean, it’s a really good, good problems to have. 

And we’re lucky to just work with a lot of smart people, and my theory has always been surround yourself with people smarter than you and things will just kind of work out. And so far it’s worked so. 

[00:28:42] Mitchell Denton: Good problems. Good challenges. I can agree with that. So on the back end of that question, though, is there a particular group or innovation within the industry that you’re excitedly keeping a watchful eye on? 

[00:28:54] Alex Tyink: Yeah. I mean, everybody, what everybody’s doing is interesting to me. I mean, I looked at it. Yeah. I look at, uh, you know, there’s a bunch of companies that seem to be really leaning into the consumer space and they’re doing, you know, smaller production, but, you know, kind of getting people started getting people involved in growing food, which I think is very meaningful.

There are companies that are doing a lot of new types of automation, both with conventional farming and indoor controlled environment agriculture. Um, I think that’s fascinating when you think about, you know, robotics and, different ways of gauging plant performance. Um, you know, the, uh, the AI aspect of that.

And, we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with partners like Microsoft and LinkedIn and some of these different groups that, you know, it’s fascinating to learn. What they’re trying to accomplish with food, because you think about the impact that these different corporations have and, and what they’re able to do by thinking differently about their food system and the type of broader impact and implication that that has.

Um, I think that’s very interesting. I mean, there’s obviously all the farms that are, you know, building massive, controlled environment, agriculture farms, um, you know, I’m really interested to see how that goes. And, and specifically on the capitalisation side, I think I’m, I’m interested to see the long-term scalability. 

Kind of just thinking through like what market solution is going to interest different market segments. I know I’m rambling here, but I mean, and then there’s like the huge conglomerate companies. They’re all thinking innovatively too. I mean, they’re all running different types of projects and programs that have huge potential.

You know, if you think of all the names that we’ve grown up hearing, I mean they’re all trying different things and working with different companies, and I think that’s encouraging.

[00:30:41] Mitchell Denton: So what’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your career in developing consumer facing AgTech products?

[00:30:48] Alex Tyink: How to run a company, I guess? 

[00:30:50] Mitchell Denton: Yeah. 

[00:30:52] Alex Tyink: Being like an opera singer turned like horticulturalists. Uh, there’s a lot of things I wish I would’ve known. 

Yeah, I, you know, I don’t know. That’s a great question. I, I think, um, I mean, if, if you’re willing, like I’d answer the question a bit more broadly, I think. 

[00:31:12] Mitchell Denton: I’m willing.

[00:31:15] Alex Tyink: Like, I think, I think for me, my biggest learning through all this has been really about like, this is going to sound really corny maybe, but like humility. 

Which, like, I, I, I think if I would’ve gone into it with a much deeper sense of discovery and a much deeper sense of willingness to learn and listen, I think, I think that’s something that the business has taught me over time, but, approaching it with more and more of that, I think would have exponentially increased the learning curve. 

And the ability for me to perform and grow this faster and more effectively. But, when you think about consumer facing agriculture, I mean, it’s really about people, right? I mean, that’s really what we’re in, that’s what we’re in the business of. 

And so there, there’s no real silver bullet on that. I think it really is just learning the market and learning people and listening. 

[00:32:16] Mitchell Denton: Yep, no. That’s great. So unfortunately, Alex, we are coming to a close, but before we do, I just wanted to ask you, what is the number one takeaway you really want the listeners to absorb from this episode?

[00:32:27] Alex Tyink: That anybody can be a farmer. 

I mean, I think, I think that if nothing else, it’s something that everybody can do. We work with kids in kindergarten and folks in their nineties and everybody in between of every race and creed and everything, right? All of it. 

I think that this is something that I think is coming, if it isn’t near you already. And I think it’s something that you can engage in and I firmly believe at this point that it will improve your life and your community.

I think that’s powerful when you really get involved in something where you can see and feel the impact every day. And I, I would just encourage everybody to, to keep an open mind about it and to really believe that they can be part of the solution. 

[00:33:19] Mitchell Denton: Anybody can be a farmer. I like that. Well, that’s all for today’s episode of “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork”, thanks for listening, and thank you, Alex, for being on the show.

[00:33:28] Alex Tyink: Thanks so much for having me. 

[00:33:30] Mitchell Denton: If you’d like to know more about Alex and Fork Farms, check out the link in the description of this episode. 

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast so that you never miss an episode, and don’t forget to leave a review and share with your friends. 

Until next time you’ve been listening to “Let’s Talk Farm to Fork” a PostHarvest podcast.

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