I grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from The University of New Hampshire in the late 1970’s with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Life Sciences and Agriculture Department. My major was in the Plant Science Dept., General Studies in horticulture and agriculture.
During and after college, I worked on the oldest family run farm in America, both outside in the fields and inside the large farm store. Outside, I spent a lot of my time working the fields with tractors, getting them ready for planting. I also spent a fair amount of time picking the crops after they matured. If you have never spent 8 hours stooped over in a field picking bush beans, you have not lived, (not)! Inside, I worked stocking and maintaining the produce and dry goods. One of the highlights of this employment was an occasional excursion with the owner of the farm to the Boston Produce Market to supply the business with produce outside of what was in season in New Hampshire.
For several months after graduation, I drove a large truck delivering organic yogurt from the manufacturing plant in southern Maine to Boston. This was when organic food, and especially yogurt, was almost unknown. The company’s owners loved living in Maine, but their customers were almost exclusively health food stores, co-ops, and ethnic groceries in Boston. I still remember many of the delicious ethnic delicacies I was fed by the matriarchs of some of these businesses. They seemed to be eternally convinced that I was on the verge of starvation and needed to be fattened up. I recall times when one of the women would look me head to toe, say something to her husband in their native language, and then disappear into the back of the business. Even after I finished stocking the yogurt, I would be told by the husband that his well-being depended on my not leaving until his wife returned. Soon enough she would be back with a huge plate of homemade food!
About a year after graduation from UNH, I moved to San Francisco. There, I took several courses in the Horticulture Program at City College of San Francisco. For approximately 13 years, I worked in the Financial District of San Francisco in a job completely unrelated to my studies or previous work experience. (I know, welcome to the club!) The work was intense and often interesting, providing an intellectual challenge, good compensation and travel. However, I always felt a bit out of sorts and often plain unhappy in the citified corporate environment, far from my rural New England roots, interests, and education.
Eventually I left that job to work for a year or two in a tech start-up company. Unfortunately, although it was a good company run by a very smart guy, it was not one of the start-ups that went skyward with the dot com boom. By this time, I was married and we had our first daughter and two years later, a son. I started working closer to home, running a business managing rental properties and working for banks and investors doing residential and commercial property repair and renovations. When our 2nd daughter was born, we decided to move from the urban San Francisco Bay Area to Southern Oregon. For 12 years I was a stay at home dad, homeschooling three children through middle school. My oldest daughter is now in medical school, my son is out of college and working, and my youngest daughter is in high school. I re-entered the work-day world in 2008, fortunate to find a job in a very tough economy working as a gardener for the west coast’s premier retirement community. I may be one of the oft-cited underemployed, and underpaid, but I do like the job. I have a 4 day – 10 hour per day schedule, and have great co-workers and supervisors.
Throughout all of this, I have continued to garden sustainably and organically. This started 25 years ago when I found dead ladybugs on plants in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. That day I vowed I would never again use insecticides in my own garden. When I lived in San Francisco, I “farmed” the small back yard of the building, growing quite a few different vegetables even in the cool, foggy, San Francisco summers. When we moved over to the east side of the San Francisco Bay, I raised “crops” in many hundred square feet of raised beds. At our current home of almost 2 acres in Southern Oregon, I have grown so much organic produce that we are able to barter it for credit at the local farm stands. I try to cut back, but I must have the “farmer” gene if there is such a thing! Of course I have never lost my love of ornamental horticulture and landscaping, making each place I have lived into a bit of a horticultural oasis.
As you may find from exploring this site, I feel strongly about organic, sustainable, farming methods. I also promote sustainable, ethical, local food production and distribution, believing that it is really a pretty simple concept that would benefit society by becoming more mainstream than it has been.
Simplify is a word that if put into practice seems to make life much more enjoyable. This is easier said than done in our busy world, but maybe by providing ongoing information and dialog, this site will help all of us integrate some simple, healthy practices into our lives. With my posts, your comments, and some guest writing, I hope to provide a resource for what I call “Common Sense” simple healthy living. If you would like to read a post with some other information, take a look at Eight Facts About Myself.