A mountain village in the Andes of Ecuador was my childhood home. I grew strong breathing in its pristine air, eating its farm-fresh produce, and living a simple life. Without electricity, we rose with the sun. When power and light came to our village, they were used for the barest necessities. I collected water for all our needs from a nearby stream until the pipeline of city water was laid. Every resource was treasured. No good thing was taken for granted. We were poor, but we were rich. The cultivation practices inherited from generations past, coupled with my father’s belief that crops produce best when the land is healed, made our gardens the wealth of our soul. It is this ethic of respect for the earth that I learned on my papa’s knee and as we hoed the rows of tomatillo plants together. Love for that life was rooted deeply in me, and I find myself still rooted in the pastoral beauty and lessons of God’s green earth.
The fruit of our labor was abundant, so we brought our produce to the weekly farmers’ market. While my father was the cultivator, my mother was the one in the family who traded or sold our goods. When there was something left at the end of the market day, she always gave it to the less advantaged. From her I learned to conduct business with integrity.
From infancy until age 18, the farmers’ market was my playground and my classroom. Each week a tapestry of colors, fabrics, spices, and just-picked produce gleamed under the mid-day sun. People came to sell, to shop, to visit with neighbors and relatives, to eat, to nap and to simply enjoy the sounds of conversations, babies laughing and Andean flutes playing their haunting melodies. That was my childhood at its best, now sorely missed in my transplanted life.
Many miles and many years later, I found myself seeking the pure life that an Amish farm in Ohio offered. My family and I made our home on 6 acres, wishing to model our farm after the homestead I left behind in Ecuador. Our farm is our livelihood. Our farm is our life, filling our plates as well as feeding our spirits.
It is this passion that nurtures what I do and how I live. The farming techniques that papa taught me had a name: organic. I am an organic farmer by blood and by choice, who brings from my farm to your table the best produce and pastured base eggs that I know how. Because I care about the earth and I care about you. So now I can recreate the joys and memories of my childhood market by greeting you with a warm Ecuadoran smile and by offering you a taste of my wares. If you visit the Peninsula and Akron Countryside markets (www.cvcountryside.org) you’ll recognize me in an ethnic dress and braided hair. Stop by for more than tomatoes. Come for the small pleasures of colors, tastes and friendly conversation. Let me share the farmers’ market experience with you.