Delicious is in the Details: Elevating Your Plate with Waterfields

November 18, 2019

As winter hits the Midwest and the holidays approach, the availability of fresh local produce in states like Ohio dwindles. As freezing temperatures set in, the majority of fruits and vegetables simply have to be imported from the south. However, if you know where to look, you can still find a greenhouse brimming with green amidst even a Midwest blizzard. In fact, no matter if it is scorching hot or blistery cold outside, warm growing conditions are consistent inside the walls of Waterfields, a Cincinnati-based hydroponic greenhouses business. Here, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers are grown year-round. Just last year their facility produced 5.5 tons of microgreens and 175,000 edible flowers. And they are well on their way to surpass these numbers this year. As Chief Marketing & Financial Officer, Daniel Klemens states, “Waterfields leverages indoor hydroponics, greenhouses and even outdoor field growing during the Ohio growing season. We have proprietaries, automation and technology all throughout our operation.”

Founded in 2013 by four friends, Dan Divelbiss, Daniel Klemens, Sam Dunlap and Ben Matthews, Waterfields was started based on a need the young entrepreneurs saw in their community. Klemens explains “We had to do a lot of listening. One of the greatest successes we had was getting in the back of kitchens before we ever had product to sell.” The result was a variety of crops that help chefs add powerful and unique flavors, sophisticated tastes and textures, as well as bright and bold presentation to the plate. As Klemens puts it “Our products enable chefs to meet their creative goals with dishes.” On a more technical note, “Ultimately, we grow things with the best market-ready technologies in ways that make the best sense for the product quality and consistency… [Chefs] can view their garnish as a meaningful ingredient as opposed to color confetti.”

Chefs, patrons and even scientists can agree, it’s not just our sense of taste that affects how we perceive a certain dish. Our five senses work in unison to craft our dining experience. Whether dressing up an hors d’ouerves plate at a holiday party, putting the final touch on a new winter menu entre or dressing up a celebratory cocktail, Waterfields microgreens can act as that seemingly small detail that really elevates the overall guest experience. From more traditional flavors of Micro Fennel or Micro Cilantro, to the surprising tangs of Micro Hot Mustard, or the sweet essence of Wacky Peas, there are dozens of varieties to cater to every culinary need. Klemens confides “Micro Hot Mustard is my current favorite and I haven't had a chef yet who doesn't love it.  I personally need to find someone who wants to make a house pastrami to pair with it. In flavor, it's hot spicy brown mustard.”

Besides leaving a lasting impact on diners, Waterfields also chooses to leave a lasting impact on their community. Inspired by Core-Change, a non-profit dedicated to transforming Cincinnati's urban core, they operate within a specific social mission to tackle the root causes of poverty. Their goal is to leverage “local capacity to realize healthier and more prosperous neighborhoods through employment of local residents at livable wages to generate rooted wealth in struggling urban areas.” Klemens further explains, “We operate as a social enterprise dedicated to creating living wage careers for individuals who are often considered hard to hire...[and] those who are ready to transform their life.” Klemens reflects, “In a lot of ways, [Core-Change’s founder] Vic catalyzed the creation of Waterfields.”

Another important factor is environmental impact. Waterfields is certified through Greener Fields Together, a sustainability program dedicated to safe produce, from seed to fork. This program not only helps them with continuous improvement of conscious production practices, it is also affiliated with another important partner, Pro*Act. Pro*Act is a national network of locally-owned produce distributors. This partnership helps Waterfields introduce their product to chefs locally and beyond. Klemens explains, “Besides Premier ProduceOne, we work with some other Pro*Act distribution partners and you can also eat our produce in Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Louisville, Detroit and more.” With such a well-rounded enterprise, it can be expected that Waterfields will grow beyond their current business model in the near future. Klemens says “Specialty was the first delivery to our customers, but we're geared up for so much more… Our job as Ohio farmers is to enable and elevate the food scene across Ohio… Our goal is to have two arms always lifting up the company. The social mission as one and the products and culinary brand we've created as the other.”



Written by: Marianna Marchenko