At GYK Antler, every employee is encouraged to pursue their passions, and when relevant, to share these passions with their fellow co-workers in a fun, engaging and inspirational manner.
My passion is growing food. I strategize on how to do it, plan for it in advance and devote many hours on nights and weekends towards the actual practice. Needless to say, it’s a big part of my life and being known as a “Gentlemen Farmer” has certainly become a foundational part of my identity.
It’s a special thing when a passion also has tangible benefits, like food! I’m fortunate that my love for gardening comes with this, but it took a specific forced initiative for me to realize that there are serious intangible benefits as well, in this case, the empowerment and unique perspective that comes with taking control of your food supply. I’ve dubbed this “forced initiative” the Home Grown Food Challenge (HGFC), a month long mission to eat only food that I’ve grown.
Today is day 1 of the challenge and this is the 5th year that I’ve embarked on this journey. In 2010, I first came up with the idea when October hit and every countertop in my kitchen was covered with fresh produce. At that point, it was more a question of whether I had enough food to do it. I hadn’t considered that it could end up changing my life.
After completing the HGFC for the first time, my perspective on why I grow food shifted from being a “fun to do” to a necessity, from a passion to an obsession. Every minute I spend in my garden now translates to a few more vegetables in the basket, you’ll never see me waste food, and I go out of my way to share tips and tricks with friends (and strangers) on how to start and maintain a successful garden. It’s moved me so much that I’ve written articles about it, gotten food bloggers to create recipes for me, and I’ve even convinced others to take the challenge for a day.
Don’t get me wrong, gardening is still a load of fun for me, especially when my daughter joins me, but it’s the “necessity” part that keeps me out there even when I don’t feel like it. I would never compare myself to John Adams in any other circumstance, but I often think of times back in the day when people like him had to be farming in addition to their primary role of being politicians, lawyers, etc. There’s a misperception that farming to feed your family would need to be done in place of having a day job, and I’ve been debunking that for 5 years now.
For me, doing the Home Grown Food Challenge is not just about what I get out of it. It’s also about sharing my experiences, good or bad, in hopes that I can inspire others to pursue things in their life that may seem challenging to them. You can follow my adventures on my instagram feed, as well as check back here for more updates. Or even better, feel free to suggest a meal I should put together.
I have a ton of ingredients (listed below), and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to combine them into something glorious. Make a recommendation below in the comments, and I’ll be sure to give you a HUGE shout out!
- Peppers – sweet & hot varieties
- Swiss Chard
- Pac Choy
- Yellow Squash
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Dried Beans
- Yellow Squash
- Green Beans
- Sundried Tomato
- Dehydrated Apples & Pears
- Tomato Sauce
- Zucchini Relish
- Cucumber Relish
- Pickled Beets
- Pickled Eggplant