Evan at the top of the ladder with Jamie and Jacob, River Farm Hoop House
Evan at the top of the ladder with Jamie and Jacob, River Farm Hoop House

 

Farms grow lots of things but nothing is more rewarding and lasting than the farmers they grow. For the past four years we’ve watched Evan flourish and evolve at Green Gate – from Greenhorn to Longhorn, from a passionate grower of vegetables to a leader of Central Texas young farmers.

Now, reluctantly, we must let him go. Indeed, Evan has given to us as much as we have given to him, and yet his time has come to sow seeds elsewhere. He’s off to our long-time partner, Sustainable Food Center, where we have no doubt he will continue what he does best – nourishing and inspiring the local food movement.

Evan came to Green Gate as a volunteer and in short order made his reputation as a young man possessed with unusual gifts: creative, funny, mature beyond his age, and, most of all, a likeability that is infectious.

When I asked our farm manager at the time, Mary Hillemeier, if we should hire him, her response was: “You better. He’s the real thing.”

That realness had come from starting his own farm in Portland as well as publishing a quirky yet heartfelt zine whose title — “Running with Pitchforks” – had given me some hesitation.

Run, Evan did, from day one. Whatever pitchfork we gave him – planting, harvesting, sales, web design, managing staff – he grabbed it with his signature enthusiasm. And when we gave him manure, he always chuckled and gladly turned it into compost.

When farming beats me down – too frequently I’m afraid to admit – I can always count on Evan to lighten up my day. Maybe it’s his Japanese genes, but he possesses a Zen-like quality. His mantra — “It’s all good” — somehow seems believable, and I’m grateful to have spent so many days – long hard days – at his side.

Punctual, reliable, professional. Evan’s qualities have been as dependable as his green pickup truck rolling through the gate each morning. But what really has set him apart is his taking ownership of this place. In a very real sense Evan does own a piece of this farm – he’s not only shaped its fields but the contours of its character, too. He’s done more than his part to make sure the gates of Green Gate stay open.

As he helped grow our farm, Evan grew in new ways himself. Getting out in front is never easy yet he’s left his bootprints everywhere. Texas Young Farmers Coalition, Moontower Food Coop, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

Like those proverbial seeds cast far and wide, former Green Gate employees have put down roots in farming communities all across the country. Will Summers in New York. Catherine Doe and Jetson Brown in Alabama. Mary in California. The list goes on across a decade, but no one from Green Gate has invested so much in Central Texas.

Yes, Evan will be sorely missed around here. And yes, some people are destined to run with pitchforks. So keep running, Evan; sustainable farming has a lot more ground to cover.