An EarthDance Farewell by Matt Lebon, Farm Manager
Hello there EarthDance Farmily. I hope that everyone has had a bountiful fall season! Here at the farm, the high tunnels are overflowing with greens and the coolers are filled with fresh roots for winter storage. Our farm staff is gearing up for crop planning, seed ordering, winter building projects, and conferences. With the transition from fall to winter, so too, must I transition.
After five incredible years on the farm, I am wrapping up my final season. EarthDance has been a place of such immense inspiration, growth and learning; I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with so many fantastic folks. My memories of the EarthDance team and the transformation that has occurred at 233 S. Dade is an enormous source of pride!
I’ll never forget my first day on the farm in 2013. We had no tractor, no irrigation system, no walk-in cooler, no covered space — we were totally bootstrapping it. Though we lacked much infrastructure, the foundation of EarthDance programs had been skillfully established and the farm was ripe for growth. As the seasons progressed, our team went on to build two high tunnels and a greenhouse for year-round growing, a gorgeous tool shed, a game-changing harvest house with several new coolers. Additionally, an abundance of fruit trees were planted, thousands of community members were welcomed on farm tours, and hundreds of beginning growers were trained.
As I reflect back on my most memorable moments, I can picture apprentices chowing down on vegetables they had never eaten before–their faces glowing with sheer amazement. Right before my eyes, they were experiencing the miracle of growing: from planting a tiny seed, to caring for that plant like they would a baby, to watching nature unfold as the plant transformed into the fuel our bodies need to shine each day.
I remember seeing an apprentice looking at a yellow mustard flower during his first week on the farm. I asked, “Did you know you can eat that?” He looked at me with intrigue and then popped it in his mouth. Within seconds, he lit up with astonishment and a huge grin spread across his face. “I can’t believe I just picked that plant right from the ground!” To me, that’s what EarthDance is all about — creating “delicious experiences” that re-connect people to the land.
In addition to the richness of apprentices on the farm, I will also remember the giggles of elementary school groups walking the fields. Hearing kids on the farm always warms my heart and really puts the school in Organic Farm School.
I remember Kaitie in front of the sugar snap peas this May as she posed a question to a group of school children. “Does anybody recognize this plant here?” With skepticism, the kids picked a pea and placed it in their mouth. And then an instant later, with a look of utter bliss, asked if they could continue picking to take some home to their families It’s moments like these that stand out as confirmation that –yes– we are achieving our mission each and every day.
My time at EarthDance has undoubtedly been shaped by many incredible moments like these. The images, the anecdotes and, of course, the many laughs courtesy of each of you. I am grateful for the opportunities you gave me and I am a better farmer and person today for having been part of such a unique and wonderful community.
Specifically, I want to thank Rachel Levi, Monica Pless, and Molly Rockamann for their immeasurable contribution to my time at EarthDance. I cannot imagine a more impressive powerhouse of talented and passionate women. I am so immensely grateful and humbled for the opportunity to have worked with you all.
Looking ahead at my next step, I am excited to share the news that I’ve started a company called Custom Foodscaping— Have Your Landscape and Eat it Too. The mission is to provide design, consultation and installation services for clients interesting in edible landscaping, farm & garden, and permaculture. Custom Foodscaping is dedicated to transforming the everyday places we work, learn and play into beautiful food-producing landscapes.
From the bottom of my roots, thank you EarthDance farmily! I will miss you terribly. I hope our friendships have only begun.
Come visit Matt and offer him some gratitude-filled good bye hugs and wish him well at his final farmers market with us this Saturday, at the indoor Ferguson Farmers Market at
St. Stephen’s, 33 N Clay Ave, 63135, 9am – 12noon! (and click the link to see a photo of one of Matt’s favorite farmers market memories!)