I fell in love with growing food when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer managing an organic farm in the Dominican Republic twenty years ago. To me, there was something special, real, magical even about going out onto the landscape and gathering what I needed to eat. Ever since then, I have read everything I can get my hands on that might inform me about how to raise food in a way that is healthful, sustainable and beautiful. As I have learned over the years, the size and scope of my gardens has grown. At first, I had enough surplus to begin selling at local farmer's markets under the name Barefoot Gardens. Then, thirteen years ago, my wife Karen and I began Barefoot Gardens CSA which we have been running and managing since 2003.
Making the transition from gardening as a serious hobby to gardening professionally has made me a much better gardener. I have learned through experience which techniques are successful and which tools are the best for getting the job done. I have also had to learn proper form to get the job done quickly and well with a minimum of movement and energy. Likewise, twenty years of trying different vegetable, flower and herb varieties has given me some insight on what varieties work best in our part of the world.
There are a lot of things that I love about managing our edible landscape CSA: the athleticism required, the demands on my hands and heart (and knees and back) as well as my head, the almost daily opportunity to interact with so many different people and personalities in a generous way, the chance to spend my life relatively free of the confines of four walls.
In the end though, perhaps what I value most in my work is that it runs so contrary to the rules that seem to govern our world today.
Knowing that we live in a country and world divided, I value having members of all religions, political bents and cultures.
Finding modern, industrial agriculture to be monotonous, ugly and ecologically disastrous, I manage the landscape in ways that promote ecological diversity, health and beauty.
Learning that a business is not successful unless it earns the owners a good income, I call our garden business a lifestyle choice and continue to think of it as a success.
After hearing that people are always going to choose food that is convenient, I run a model where the food is harvested by hand and requires that members sometimes have to venture to the hidden and more remote corners of our garden landscape.
Most importantly though, after evaluating the overwhelming evidence that humanity is destined to ruin our land, our oceans and even our climate, I continue the slow, painstaking work of making my own tiny patch of the planet a little better. In my work, I continue to practice hope.