7 Questions with Mark Williams

Urban Farm takes a break with the corporate executive chef of Brown-Forman to get his take on container gardening and sustainability.

Chef Mark Williams takes container gardening to a whole new level. As corporate executive chef at Brown-Forman, he grows herbs, tomatoes, peppers and more for use in the company kitchen, pleasing the palates and stomachs of the people that put brands like Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort on the shelf.

Using halved wine and whiskey barrels from some of Brown-Forman’s most popular brands, he gleans at least $20 worth of organic produce per year from each barrel. While he says he just enjoys watching the plants grow, the more than 250 barrels add up to huge savings for the company.

In Williams’ barrel garden, attention to sustainability is key. He uses a drip irrigation system to water the plants and relies on beneficial insects for pest control. Each year, he adds his homemahomede compost blend, made from veggie scraps and organic fish emulsion, to the garden with additional help from native worms and night crawlers.

Better yet, he’s gotten his co-workers in on the action. In the barrel garden’s third year, he recruited a garden club to help him manage the main barrels in exchange for barrels to grow private gardens.

Watch the video above as we pick Williams’ brain on his urban farming philosophy.

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