So, I am on my semi-annual visit to my brother’s Harmony Valley Farm….always an enjoyable experience to be in “the valley” and observe the bustle of more than 40 people engaged in the work of raising and marketing over 100 different varieties of organic vegetables while hearing how this large “farm family” is dealing with the accompanying weather and every year’s new business challenges. (As a retired business consultant, I find the depth and breadth of these challenges and the solutions to deal with them to be fascinating and inspiring.) And, I often wonder, “How did this brother (Farmer Richard as he is now known) evolve, from the teenage rebel I grew up with, into the successful businessman/Farmer he is today?!”
|Now and Then: Richard with his|
high school yearbook.
As he entered college, his explorations, learnings, and independence became a way of life. It was the late sixties; long-hair and non-conventional ways were in. The rebel bought a motor bike (650 BSA) and chopped it! He spent a summer hitch-hiking to California. He met people who thought differently about the world – where it had been and where it was going. Earth-day was born – the seed of a cause was planted and Richard was a welcoming vessel.
He graduates college, with a degree in Mining Engineer and takes a conventional position with the US Bureau of Mines – a “new age” rebel with a bureaucratic day job. The Earth-day cause has far more pull for this explorer and learner than coming into an office day after day. The questions “What is the purpose of this work, how can I change things, why am I here?” must have been bouncing around his head every day and night. Without a connection between his cause and the work he was doing, the passion was missing – the separation from the Bureau of Mines was inevitable.
|Blue Gentian Farm, Eagan, MN, |
where Richard started exploring organic farming
|Richard in the early days at Harmony Valley Farm|
Thus, in hindsight it is easy to see how a first-born son of a strong-willed father accepts the challenges and opportunities that grants; becomes a leader who pushes boundaries and meets the complex challenges of growing and marketing organic produce to be enjoyed by those who understand, you are what you eat!