Nathan Dorn isn’t your typical tech entrepreneur. For his Salinas-based startup, Food Origins, Dorn rarely spends his weekdays cooped up behind a computer in a corner office. Instead, you’ll see him each morning with the other hardworking members of the Salinas ag industry – out in the field, where he partners with farmers to track and analyze harvesting data on precision crops such as strawberries, melons, broccoli and lettuce.
Food Origins: The Future of AgTech
Dorn’s idea for Food Origins was simple yet innovative: Take the harvesting data that had been tracked for decades in row crops, and apply it to handpicked crops. With the help of high-tech sensors, he uses up-to-the-second measurements to log precision data, including when and where crops are picked. The data is then stored in the cloud for use in product labels, which consumers can access through their smartphones to learn more about the food they’re buying.
With his work, Dorn honors the hard work that growers invest in their crops, while ensuring that harvesters maximize their knowledge of their fields’ output. “This is a way to positively impact the dignity of the workforce, the good character of the farming community and the origin of food all into one solution,” Dorn said.
“Agtech belongs here. This is where the opportunity is.”
In 2015, as Dorn considered the steps necessary to start his business, he saw Salinas as an area ripe with opportunity in the agricultural technology industry. The city ranks among Forbes’ strongest regions for agribusiness in the nation, and is the central hub of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology. “Agtech belongs here,” Dorn said. “This is where the opportunity is, and Food Origins is the tool that will help other companies bring their startup to market here.”
Beyond business, Dorn says he loves Salinas as a place to build a life with his loved ones. “Salinas is a great place to live and great for families,” he said. “The weather here has been phenomenal, the people here are phenomenal and there is a lot of opportunity here.”
A special thanks to Jacob Dorn, who provided some of the photography on this website.
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