Kate Edwards shows off her small Solon, Iowa, farm. (Andrea Silzenzi for Harvest Public Media)
This is the first installment of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s new series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.
Kate Edwards hasn’t always been a farmer. No, she came back to the farm after college, grad school and a stint as an environmental engineer.
Now, she farms a small one-acre plot near Solon, Iowa. On her small farm, she feeds 30 families through a Community Supported Agriculture project, a CSA. Edwards was drawn back to farming, she says, because of family memories.
“When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time with my grandpa – I was kind of his sidekick,” Edwards said. “He has a love for the land and a love for taking care of it.”
While working with her grandfather on his farm, Edwards says she absorbed that love for the land and a passion for using the land to create. It’s a special feeling, harvesting crops that you helped grow.
Because CSA programs depend on community involvement, Edwards says she has been able to pass on some of the passion that was gifted to her.
“It’s an honor and a privilege because to think that someone would want to learn from me, like the girl that works for me, or the volunteers that come out that I get to teach, or the kids that come out that I get to talk to,” Edwards said. “It’s this huge privilege to think that I have knowledge that I get to share. And it’s kind of humbling because the only reason that I have this knowledge is because other people have shared it with me.”
Edwards says she never set out to learn about farming or to learn about the land, she mostly absorbed it through a kind of osmosis. But now, her passion has grown like the food on her farm.
“My grandma and I were walking on their farm just this spring and we were walking past the black raspberry bushes and she said something to the effect of ‘Not many people care about these things anymore,’” Edwards said. “And I said ‘Grandma, I do. And the reason that I do is because you taught me to.’”
In many ways, for Edwards, farming means family.
“I care about the seasons. I care about when things are ripe,” Edwards said. “I care about making sure I get up to the farm the two weeks in July when the black raspberries are ready because I have those deep memories of being on the farm with my grandpa and grandma teaching me where those are. I care about those things and I learned to watch the weather and watch the seasons because they do.”