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Our Genealogy

Future Foods Farms was created by Award-Winning Chef, Food Writer, Organic Advocate, and Urban Garden innovator Adam Navidi, a pioneer of the sustainable restaurant community. The National Restaurant Association broke the story back in early 2010, “Chef Adam Navidi is the first innovative chef to use the sustainable growing method known as ‘aquaponics’ in his restaurant and catering company worldwide, and is a leader in the sustainable movement”.

At a young age Chef Adam discovered that growing foods organically and without soil was as simple as placing a tooth-picked seed into a cup of water. Adam’s father believed that anything amazing he ate was worth planting and watering daily. With deep roots planted by his father’s love for everything organic and home grown, an uncle who farmed avocados in Escondido; when he wasn’t doing aquaculture research for the state of California, Chef Adam discovered his green thumb had not fallen far from the family tree. By age 15, Adam was growing plants and trees from seeds. Looking to grow his new plant business through the winter months Adam started experimenting with hydroponic systems and indoor gardening. In 1998 when Adam visited Napa Valley and toured the Culinary Institute of America’s garden with Jean Louis Palladin, his interest in growing foods was solidified. It was during this visit that an important life message was planted in his brain. Chef Palladin insisted that a great chef must know where his food comes from, and build a relationship with the farmers and foragers who could procure the best possible ingredients. Those words sparked a fire within, so while other chefs were practicing molecular gastronomy focusing on how to take a perfectly good tomato, and chemically morph it to look like something else, Chef Adam focused on the science behind how to grow the perfect, most nutritious organic tomato possible.

Tired of working long hours in the kitchen and spending his free time picking weeds, watering and sorting the beneficial bugs from the pest; Chef Adam developed a hydroponic system tinkering with synthetic nutrients, to produce the best possible yield. During a night of online research Chef Adam discovered a couple of guys back east that were utilizing an aquaponic system that made perfect sense. He quickly started calling and talking with everyone about the science and equipment needed. With a system so new, everyone had something different to say and there was no hard evidence that growing food aquaponically really worked. Adam contacted the few scientists he could find that seemed to know what they were talking about and that had full systems up and running, to see if they were interested in working on his new restaurant. One of them returned his call. Bevan, from Aquaplanet, wanted to be involved, and he told Chef Adam, “You just have to put a system together and try it out. It’s a learning process that takes time!”

So, with a small fish aquarium and an old salad bar, Adam built his first aquaponic system in 2009. Ideas in hand and a restaurant location planned in Fountain Valley, he took his proposal to the city to get permits in early 2010. They shot him down saying, “We would have to create a special zoning law/code for doing agriculture in a commercially zoned center and at this time we’re not interested.” Disheartened, but not defeated, he took his plan to another city that also refused. Chef Adam continued to do his homework and talk with scientists from across the US and Canada. Finally he discovered a couple in San Diego developing an aquaponic business willing to help with the construction of Adam’s system. Eden Aquaponics had a real system in the works, with food you could taste, still in the learning process but honest and sincere enough to make several trips to his planned restaurants to help with the designs. They started challenging each other to compare Brix (sugar) levels in their crops and a friendship was planted!

Now with three science projects growing in his backyard, out $40,000 from his restaurant plans and permits, and with no city in the county wanting to approve a space where he could both grow and cook, Chef Adam was lucky enough to trip over a small nursery in Brea, California. The owners shared Adam’s passion for organic food and had two abandoned hoop houses on their property. They worked out a deal and Future Foods Farms was planted.


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