How did a suburban kid growing up as a paper boy, baseball player and cross country runner become a Farmer? Of all things? A Farmer. Long story short: I had a great Latin teacher in high school, became an Arabic Linguist, worked for a Government Agency and now I am Farmer. Logical, right?
I grew up with a love for the outdoors. My parents split up when I was 7. My dad did a damn good job raising us, especially for the years my mom and step dad moved to Florida. That takes a toll on a kid. I found I had a love of animals and my Dad indulged me every chance he had. We went camping all the time. I loved the woods. I loved everything about the outdoors. My Mom returned when I was in Middle school and my step dad was a huge supporter of wildlife; donated to the World Wild Life fund, took us scuba diving and camping in the keys. Again, loved the outdoors.
I found a love of languages in high-school in my Junior year when I took Latin one and Spanish two. My Latin teacher, Magister Kelsh, had a way of making an extinct language come to life. I loved the very backwards sentence structure and the conjugation specific to number and gender of verbs and even nouns. I asked him if I could get into Latin 3 my senior year. I had to pass the final for Latin 2 so he gave me the text book for over the Summer. Two weeks by the pool and boom day one I take the test and get placed into Latin 3. Another wonderful teacher, Magistra Davidson. Another wonderful year of foreign language. 9/11 happened when I was a sophomore in high school. I knew I didn’t have money for college and wanted to travel. Naturally, military is the next step but because of Iraq and WMDs, I wanted to get over there. I thought I would have a guaranteed seat if I became a Marine who spoke their language.
I got my wish after 2 and a half years of intense language training. I found myself in Iraq’s western most province, Anbar. Mostly desert, we were stationed right on the Euphrates. THE FERTILE CRESCENT! Only, there was nothing fertile about the land. It was dust and sand. The only agriculture we saw was right next to the river. All these people living in poverty in a desert, didn’t have enough to feed themselves. We were hit by dust storm after dust storm. And then it hit me: if we aren’t careful, every once fertile place in the world will turn into a desert if we don’t protect our soils and produce food in a more holistic way.
I reenelisted and my wife and I moved to Augusta Georgia in 2009 where we purchased a house on .13 acres. It was a new house build and therefore a blank slate. I designed it using Rosalyn Creasey’s book Edible Landscaping. You’d be surprised how easy it is to grow a peach tree in Georgia. The other trees and plants and gardens did very very well and I fell in love with it. I wasn’t allowed to talk about what I did during the day. This was a great therapeutic outlet for my pent-up energy as a marine who was sitting at a desk. Over time I began to get a small reputation with my co-workers and started teaching a few others. We also helped stand up an organization in that region to help connect to other hobby farmers. We called ourselves the Hobby Farmers of the CSRA. Founded by David Young, our goal was to connect more people with raising their own food no matter how much land they did or did not have. I found my true calling in helping people learn how to produce food. My background in caring for the environment led me down me only obvious path of producing food in a way that does not harm wildlife. Little did I know, a way existed to produce food that actually restores and protects wild life.
The budget cuts from 2012 pushed the Marine Corps to give me a set of orders that would have short toured me on station again. We were in a great school system so at the time I thought we would stay in Georgia and get a house with a little bit more land and I would seek a job with that government agency. As we got closer to 2013 and time went on we realized we were going to be home sick so we came up with a wild idea to return home and I start a farm. By that point I already had experience in aquaponics with Tilapia, meat rabbits, ducks, laying chickens, potatoes strawberries, raised beds, fruit trees, herbs, and sustainable landscaping.
Needless to say I turned down those orders, turn down any possible promotion to gunnery sergeant and I quietly exited the Marine Corps August of 2013.
We returned to Ohio and lived with Becca’s parents for three and a half years. We were able to start a few animals in one of their back fields and keep a couple beehives. Word spread and we were able to find a place to rent woodlands to run pigs in and we found extra pasture ground to run a much bigger group of sheep and goats.
Simultaneously, I had attracted the eyes of Easter Seals as a veteran recently separated from the Marine Corps involved in the Iraq War who was also doing agriculture at the time. I was invited to a meeting of the minds where a few figure heads in the community were trying to get food into the VA that was produced at a garden used for the horticulture therapy inpatient veterans at Cincinnati VA. They also wanted a OIF veteran there to give feedback on what veterans may or may not like. I ended up speaking for much of the meeting and was in a round about way offered a job to work for Turner Farm ‘s livestock program. I eventually become the livestock program manager and remain so to this day.
My wife and I purchased our own 26 acres of run down row crop ground and a house late 2016. It is on this land we have planted hundreds of trees, are still rebuilding the ecosystem and are improving the soil.
No degree. Quite a bit of training as we have gone down this path. Just a lot of reading books, seeing practices in practice and helping out at other farms until I got my feet under me.
It is my solemn hope God shows everyone their purpose in life so clearly and at such a young age.