I overhear this countless times each weekend. As one of the farm's point persons for business inquiries, Chris answers questions about hours, if pets are allowed, what food vendors will be there this weekend ... and more.
Friendly yet to the point, Chris is a great face of the farm. Well, I may be a bit biased. I thought I'd use his own words to give you an objective insider's look. This video was taken the morning of our wedding, as Chris gave the lay of the land to his groomsmen and my dad. They really earned their keep that day — not only did they have to wake up early and pose for countless pictures with us, but they also helped Chris plant lettuce!
On graduating from the University of Maryland with a degree in business information systems, Chris worked at a large consulting firm. After two years there, he realized that if he didn't leave, he could end up like some of his co-workers in the corporate world, living for the weekend and leading potentially unhealthy, fast-paced, stressful lifestyles.
Fast-forward three years, and Chris found himself at Rocklands working with his high school friend Greg Glenn as the farm's business manager and eventually its garden manager.
At one point, when he managed Rocklands' vegetable CSA, Chris had this to say.
I plant seeds in the ground and marvel at their germination. I give them too much water on some days and too little water on others, but they still seem to carry on. Sometimes I look close enough and see bugs that I've never seen before and wonder, "Are you guys going to eat my spinach row?" Other times I see broccoli plants starting to yellow for no reason at all and say out loud, "Why don't you like your home, plant?" Sometimes I look at a specific set of instructions on how to put together the gear crank for the high tunnel roll-up curtains and re-read the same sentence five times in a row and still don't understand in the slightest what it wants me to do. I certainly feel a sense of bewilderment and bafflement every day and I'm fairly sure my default face at work is one of confusion. If you were to observe me on a random Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock there's a good chance you'll find me talking to myself in a semi-crazed state. But at the end of every day, as I drift off to sleep (sometimes too early to be considered reasonable and other times too late to be considered decent), I understand that this is my real work.
Fun Facts About Chris
Some of you might know Chris already, some of you might not. But even those of you who know him may be surprised by some parts of his story. I'm constantly being surprised myself!
- Hogs. Even before his job at the consulting firm, Chris had an interest in farming. Through a friend, he found himself working at a large-scale hog farm in Iowa. After two short months, he almost walked away from farming forever based on how he saw the animals being treated. He started researching farming, however, and soon learned that there was another way to do farming. Organic, free-range, pasture-raised, permaculture, and all the other lexicon of sustainable farming.
- Bikes. After quitting his corporate job, Chris accepted his first real farming position as a garden assistant at Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts, through Heifer International. Before the job started, he took a brief hiatus to bicycle across the country with four friends. Team Wolfspank, along with a lifelong love of Gatorade, was born.
- Seeds. Chris spent 18 months in Massachusetts with Heifer, where he gained a thirst for experiencing environmentally friendly farming across different parts of the country. Next, he spent a year in California saving non-GMO, heirloom, organic, open-pollinated seeds while working for Sustainable Seed Company. Ask him to explain this to you sometime. It's very complicated but he loves it.
- Gracie. In California, Chris had a dangerous run-in that involved him stepping between a dog fight and rescuing the dog being attacked — Tess. What he didn't know was that she was pregnant with six puppies. When Tess gave birth, Chris was given the pick of the litter, literally. He chose a little honey-colored pup that he named Gracie.
- Bees. Did you know that Chris keeps two hives of honeybees on the farm? It's not been easy, but he has high hopes for this year's bees.
These are only a few of the tricks that Chris has up his sleeve. He's had a lot of experiences that have brought him to where he is today — working as a barista, for example, or living in Mexico for a summer — so it's only fitting that he wears so many hats on a daily basis. An early riser and a constant mover, Chris is always seeking to learn new stories and skills from other Rocklands staff, neighboring farmers, community members, and the land itself.
Most days, you can find Chris walking around the farm muttering to himself in a semi-crazed state. Don't be afraid to say hi and thank him for the work he does to keep the business running. It's hard work, but it's real work.