Zach Buchel’s FarmTableWest Poised for Growth
Written by Caleb Nelson on June 20, 2022
Zach Buchel, originally from the suburbs of Chicago, started out working in soup kitchens after college. He has been living in Cody, Wyoming for the past seven years. Buchel says he started FarmTableWest to connect good people with good food.
On his decision to move back to Wyoming, Buckel says, “I’m not really a person designed to live in the city.”
Buchel is calm, easygoing, and quick to avoid self-aggrandizement. “I grow and peddle vegetables,” Buchel says. About FarmTableWest, Buchel jokes, “It’s basically a big-ass garden.”
FarmTableWest, while modest in size (about 8,000 square feet), reflects a larger trend in agriculture. A new generation of farmers, often young and self-taught, are looking to promote efforts like farm-to-table, regenerative agriculture, and community sustainability.
Buchel sells his produce to retail customers and restaurants in Cody in addition to his online store. “I’ve actually only been growing for about two years,” he says.
FarmTableWest currently grows and sells spinach, radishes, turnips, carrots, green onions, sugar snap peas, green beans, beets, onions, shallots, summer squash, arugula, and celery in addition to things like salad mix.
“Every single crop is a specific skill set,” Buchel explains.
Before growing his own vegetables, Buchel had been buying produce from other farms in the area. He then sold those products online, delivering them to homes and businesses.
“Since 2020 there was starting to be a little bit of, you know, food security fear. Everybody was freaking about food,” Buchel notes. Those fears are still top of mind for many in the United States with new concerns about food shortages and supply chain issues still looming from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
In terms of planting and growing food, Buchel adds, “I’ve always been obsessed with this.” Buchel previously worked with Scott Richard at Shoshone River Farm. Buchel says he learned a tremendous amount from Scott.
“I originally started FarmTableWest to help him [Scott Richard] market his produce,” Buchel says. The website marketed produce to retail customers online. “It sort of grew into a lot of other things,” Buchel explains. FarmTableWest, once a website for marketing vegetables, now has land, a greenhouse, and a presence at the local farmer’s market.
“I’ve been obsessed with this stuff for a long time but doing it myself has been a dream come true,” Buchel says regarding his recent efforts to grow and sell his own products.
Buchel plans to expand FarmTableWest to over an acre, which is upwards of 43,000 square feet. Further, he is attempting to grow produce during the winter months. “That’s something that’s an absolute passion of mine,” Buchel says about winter growing. It’s obviously difficult to grow crops in the winter and this is especially the case in Wyoming. “Not many people think about having fresh stuff in the winter,” Buchel explains.
“I’m also building another greenhouse right now that’s geothermally heated. So, there’s going to be pipes six feet underground that circulate air that keeps it above freezing during the winter,” Buchel says.
This new heating system, according to Buchel, should be cheaper than natural gas, for example. “It’s a complete game-changer,” Buchel adds. The heating system will help Buchel grow lettuce and radishes.
“Yeah, I’m pretty excited in general about the whole thing,” Buchel says.
“It’s never looked this good, there’s a lot of growing pains when you’re starting out,” Buchel remarks.
FarmTableWest sells produce to Cody businesses such as Trailhead, Sitti’s Table, and Pardner’s Cafe in the Library. He also works with a food hub called Fresh Foods Wyoming in Casper. While FarmTableWest has been around online for about five to six years, Buchel has been farming his own land for two years.
Buchel’s business is poised to take off with new infrastructure and an ever-increasing demand for fresh, quality produce. “There’s a whole lot of room for growth and potential. I think the interest in this is also growing a lot at the moment,” Buchel says.