Kyle from Wilmington, NC, United States

“I’m a first generation farmer, father of four, husband, entrepreneur, and lover of good food.  I’m passionate about growing food for others and teaching them to grow food for themselves.

My first job out of college was working on an organic farm.  This was supposed to be a temporary set up, but I got the vision for the fact that I could take a little seed, tend it and watch it mature, harvest and bring to market for someone else to eat, and they would trade me their hard earned money for it.  It was never the same for me after that.  If I could be a part of this ancient tradition, I was going to try to make it my livelihood.

I grow food to support my family and community, but one of the big reasons I love growing food is because I love cooking and eating good food, and I get to have all the best ingredients right in my backyard.

My philosophy is to encourage diversity and healthy systems as much as possible.  I do this by never using toxic substances on our farm, growing a wide variety of vegetables, rotating animal environments, leaving plenty of natural areas and using keen observation on what’s going on in the soil and in the air.  We make it a point to leave the soil layers lower than about 4 inches as undisturbed as possible, so the structure and living networks of microorganisms stay intact, and in turn, provide the necessary elements for plant growth.

It can be difficult to fund the operation on the shoulder seasons like late winter.  All of our farm enterprises rely on each other for cash flow, and when one of them isn’t pulling their weight the others suffer for it.  This is why I’ve built the enterprises the way I have, so we can be more resilient, but even still, money can become the limiting factor in how much we can produce.

The biggest rewards for me have to do with my own family.  The fact that my kids can play on a huge open space whenever they want, or start their own farming enterprises and have an outlet to sell, and simply the fact that I’m right here working where I live.  In a lot of ways you can’t put a price on that kind of lifestyle.  Second to that is the appreciation and excitement I get from the folks that purchase the food we grow.  Having the trust of the community and hearing them voice their gratitude to our family and the work we do is an amazing thing.

I’ve been asked many questions over the years regarding home gardening and homesteading, so I started holding in-person workshops training folks to grow vegetables at home.  Those got to be very tiresome and scheduling was a huge task, so I recently produced an online course that teaches the fundamentals of building an organic system for the home gardener.  This has been received very well and I hope to get it into the hands of more people who want to garden at home.

Also, In an effort to help people get outside of focusing on the crazy world we live in right now I’ve started a new project creating short videos highlighting some of the things we do on the farm on a daily/weekly basis.  I’m calling it ‘This Is Farming’ and it’s available on youtube.  The plan is to create weekly video’s but we’ll see.

Food is one of the essentials of life, so how it’s produced and who produces it matters a lot.  If you have even just a small space, producing some of your own food is a tradition that will connect you to your ancestors in a very real way.  They dug their hands in that soil, they dropped the seed, they waited patiently for it to germinate, they felt the heartache of a failed crop and the joys of a heavy harvest.  Growing food is part of what makes us human and it teaches us important life lessons that all humans have to learn in order to contribute to society in a meaningful way.  Make it a priority to grow more of your own food and support the small farmers who are growing food for you.”