Upon visiting Old Soul Farm with my classmates, I immediately knew Kris was a good guy who absolutely loved what he did. So engaging, kind, smiley, enthusiastic… he just radiated a deep sense of peace and joy. “Sometimes I say it is luck, but others call it grace. It is about feeling grateful for the life you have,” Kris commented during our interview. He feels incredibly grateful for the farm and the people in his life, and wants to use his farm as a means to show his generosity to others. “It is all about the priceless things,” he continued. “My grandma loves tomatoes and I love watching her enjoy the tomatoes from the farm.” It makes perfect sense that his life motto is “to change the world one tomato at a time.”
When I reached out to Kris to do an interview, he was so gracious to meet for coffee at a local spot outside the city called McMenamins Edgefield. After three passing hours and a walk around Edgefield’s small farm and garden, I felt like I met a new life-long friend. He told me his life story from studying at Lewis & Clark to sharing his first true passion of playing basketball to being in the Peace Corp in Bulgaria. “Bulgaria had farms older than our country, incredible fertile soil and food full of life,” he remembered. Kris returned from Bulgaria, passionate to learn about farming and to be connected to mother nature. Kris and his girlfriend, Alisha, joined BUFA, a 7-month program that offers garden and urban-scale farming education. After completing BUFA, Old Soul Farm was born. Growing rows upon rows of seasonal vegetables, Kris and Alisha grow kale, collard greens, carrots, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, a variety of peppers and squash, and my personal favorite, sunflowers! They will be welcoming soon beets, kohlrabi, rutabaga, parsnips, cilantro, and cauliflower for the fall season.
Kris feels empowered by his farm and growing local, organic food. He states, “The organic food movement is growing and it is exciting to be a part of something that will change the world for the better. I want to leave the world a better place.” With his farm, Kris is impacting people on all walks of life. He certainly ignited a new desire of mine to learn how to farm. Although Kris may not be able to change the world, he is changing the hearts of people one person at a time.
Of course Kris has many struggles as a farmer, such as handling the elements and worse, running the risks of patent infringement and potential farm closure from large Agrochemical corporations if their seeds are found in his field. He states, “It is a struggle of wanting to do the right thing.” His greatest struggle, however, is changing people’s mind about food. “It is difficult to have people recognize the importance of eating local, organic food. If I can change a person’s mind about food, then I feel I have done my job,” he states.
Old Soul Farm has come a long way considering it is a little over 2 years young. Kris has future goals for his farm, such as owning a farmland with the addition of chickens and turkeys, growing perennial plants and berries, having orchards of fruit trees, to even starting a non-profit that reaches out to the poor and underprivileged. Although young, Kris is an ‘old soul’ and bringing nature to life, either taking root in the dirt or within an individual’s heart. Living his life following John Lennon’s quote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” Kris is passionately living presently at his farm and loving every second of it.