WIUM Tristates Public Radio

My Farm Roots: Rich with Life

Aug 18, 2014

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.

John Curtis of Macomb traces his farming roots back to a stint running a model farm in the Peace Corps.
Credit Rich Egger

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 near Macomb. 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.

Curtis grows some tomatoes in hoop houses at Barefoot Gardens CSA
Credit Rich Egger

“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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