Harvest Public Media
8:20 am
Wed August 13, 2014

My Farm Roots: Rich With Life

Farmer John Curtis grows tomatoes in the hoop house at Barefoot Gardens CSA in Macomb, Ill.
Farmer John Curtis grows tomatoes in the hoop house at Barefoot Gardens CSA in Macomb, Ill.
Credit Rich Egger / for Harvest Public Media

Farmers are used to waking up with the rooster’s crow. But having grown up a suburban kid, John Curtis was used to a more conventional alarm clock.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean, he managed a farm for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A long way from his Wisconsin home, he found a love for the most Midwestern job – that of a farmer.

“I loved walking out on the landscape and finding things I could eat,” Curtis said. “I found agriculture to be fascinating.”

Today, Curtis runs Barefoot Gardens CSA in western Illinois. On his small community supported agriculture operation, he grows vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. And he invites his CSA members out to the farm to pick their own bounty and explore the gardens.

“I think people are really hungry for a connection to the land” he said. “Probably one of the most natural things for humans to do is to walk out on the landscape and to gather resources from the landscape. We’ve been doing that for tens of thousands of years.”

His stint in the Peace Corps instilled in Curtis a respect for nature and a love for growing food.

“I was surprised to find that agriculture was very beautiful and interesting,” he said.

Walking through Barefoot Gardens is a reminder.

“It’s full of wildlife,” he said. “We have all kinds of birds, insects, we have thousands of small toads right now. It’s just rich with life.”

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