While working for almost four years in the financial industry, I began exploring the inner workings of sustainable agriculture firsthand, by volunteering at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a short 30 minute train ride from my apartment in Manhattan. This experience sparked my passion and within a year I decided to leave the suit and tie behind and dive into farming hands first. For the past few years I have been working on farms and agricultural related projects throughout the Northeast. My work has ranged from developing a hydroponic rooftop greenhouse in Manhattan for Restauranteur Eli Zabar, to working and learning alongside some of the most well-respected and knowledgeable organic farmers including Jack Algiere, Farm Director of the Stone Barns Center and famed farmer and writer, Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm tucked away in Harborside, ME. I am currently helping Dr. Michael Mazourek, Public Plant Breeder and Assistant Professor at Cornell University, develop a soil-based greenhouse for research and education. While research is being performed on quality related to soil type and vegetable variety, students have the opportunity to participate in on-campus food production during the fall, winter and spring. In addition to my work in the soil, I recently co-founded PickACarrot.com as a way of expressing my passion for the development of new technology for farmers. As a search engine, we offer growers a simple, easy way to locate, compare and purchase seeds from dozens of well-respected seed catalogs.
How do you think naturalists and scientists can use technology?
Throughout history, nature has always set the stage for scientific philosophy. The development of technology is the how these ideas and dreams are turned into realities. Technology helps us to remove our limitations and develop methods of working more efficiently and thus experiencing more of what life has to offer. I have come to understand that one of the biggest limiting factors facing the more sustainable, regenerative forms of agriculture today, is the lack of advanced technology. Whether that is on-farm tools for small to mid-size and organic farmers, or even disease resistant and robust seed varieties, technology is helping us bridge the gap between science and nature. I believe both scientists and naturalists benefit from having good, reliable tools to increase their efficiency in work, but also, to increase the efficiency of sharing ideas and collaborating on new visions. This developing, global collaboration is creating a stronger and more accessible system of education, from which all sides benefit. What each individual, government, institution or corporation chooses to do with these tools is a separate issue, but technology helps us uncover the once mysterious patterns of nature.
What is your favorite…
Nature-based memory from childhood? Being from New York City, I can’t say that I have many nature-based memories. Although I was 24 years old at the time, I will never forget the day I picked my first carrot and felt like a 4 year old, filled with excitement. It was a November afternoon and my best friend and I were volunteering on a farm. We were so far removed from food production, we were convinced carrots grew in the back of supermarkets, but on that cloudy day, I plucked my first, sweet, fall carrot and never looked back. I’ve been growing vegetables ever since.
Animal? I’m a penguin man…
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Professional basketball player
What motivates you to work in nature? The beauty of the results and the never-ending challenges and opportunities to learn. I believe there is an innate connection we all have to working with nature, whether we tap into this or not is a very personal choice, but I believe working in nature has an incredibly healing and thoughtful quality to it and I believe it can help many people who open themselves up to the experience.
Education: BA in Economics from Tufts University