Skip Connett, 57, is co-owner of Austin’s approximately 40-acre certified organic Green Gate Farms. The operation is a realization of a vision he had to cultivate a healthy farm that feeds mind, body and soul. He and his co-owner wife, Erin Flynn, 51, established Green Gate Farms in May 2006, five acres of which are in what was once a blighted neighborhood, eight miles east of downtown Austin, Texas. Another four to six acres of a 35-acre plot located 23 miles from downtown Austin are presently being developed with cover cropping, fruit trees and vegetables.
Skip, formerly a writer for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, saw firsthand the dilemmas of poor health and that, combined with a passion for organic farming, drove him to cultivating the soil.
Beylik Family Farms’ Embrace of Hydroponics Proves Out-of-Box Thinking Can Sustain Multi-Generational FarmSeptember 5, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
Beylik Family Farms has proved that out-of-the-box thinking on agriculture can be rewarded with a multi-generational business model – one that keeps the family on the farm without even getting their hands dirty.
“Back in 1971, hydroponics were not a proven technology,” current family farmer Scott Beylik said. “We are light years away now from how we started out. And we get better yields than ever.”
Beylik’s dad was an aerospace engineer and his grandfather was a plant biology teacher at Culver City High School back in the early 70s when they got an idea to work for themselves. Grandpa Beylik researched growing hydroponically in an industry that couldn’t imagine year-round greenhouse production with no dirt involved.
Thirty-eight years ago, before he discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and became an advocate for sustainable oceans and built a boat out of plastic bottles to sail to Hawaii, just to make a point about ocean pollution, Charles Moore had a little farm.
On a 2,000 square foot plot smack in the middle of Long Beach, with an upholstery shop on one side and an auto body repair clinic on the other, Moore started growing vegetables and fruits so he could make lunch for his employees in his own furniture repair shop. From that effort, Gladys Avenue Urban Farm was born.
“Climbing was great training for farming. They are both really exhausting, painful, frightening experiences that look impossible on the face of them but somehow you get it done.” David Bell, Bell Organic Farm
Located 12 miles north of Salt Lake City, Bell Organic farm of Draper, Utah is what happens when you outgrow your garden and tap an ever expanding marketplace for fresh organic produce. For David and Jill Bell it all started with a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes.
In 1997, David Bell ran a successful rock climbing business and his wife Jill spent her days waitressing in a local restaurant. They began growing their own vegetables in the backyard, producing far more tomatoes than needed. A local restaurant owner put them in touch with his chef who immediately purchased their excess veggies. Soon after, a local market owner who imported his tomatoes from a greenhouse in Holland wanted to make a purchase.
Among city-dwellers, there are those that dream of a different life. This dream often brings them out of the city, back to the land, and, in some cases, leads them to a life of organic farming. When Todd and Julia McDonald met they shared such a dream. Living in Chicago, Todd and Julia often entertained the idea of becoming organic farmers.
“I distinctly remember one of our first conversations in which we both disclosed our ideas for our futures, what we wanted to be ‘when we grew up.’ [Todd] said ‘I don’t have any great ambition. I just want to be an organic farmer,’” said Julia McDonald.