The first time I imagined myself as a farmer was my senior year in High school talking to my girlfriend. Years passed and in the late 80’s I was injured in a auto accident and was on disability for over two years. I had gone to Lake Canyon with my wife at the time and met a guy named Don Raimy. He introduced us to the Hotspot of permaculture at the Dubose farm in Blanco Texas. I learned a friend of mine Jac was starting a premaculture group in Houston. The first event we ended up having was Bill Mollison came to Houston and spoken at the Museum of Natural Science where around 300 people attended. Jac did all the heavy lifting. I just tagged along. Bill came to my house for a fund raiser and we raised $20. The lecture was free. It was a full moon that night of his talk was spectacular. The following weekend we had a class at my house in the Heights. I had been seeing these school desk at Texas Junk in the Montrose and picked them up for a dollar a piece. When folks came to the class it looked like we had been having classes for awhile.
The late 80’s as the first permaculture group we named ourselves S.E.E.D. Sustaining the Earth Through Environmental Design. We aquire land in southwest Houston and started a garden named Stone Throw. With Jac lead we held presentations on the dangers of the electrical grid. Garden classes. Had monthly meeting. Went quite offen to Blanco Texas to attend workshops. Met lots of folks in Houston and the Austin area. Had as many as 80 people come to one of the meeting. Back then is was mostly talk. In 2000 when I returned to start the project at Japhet creek had decided to be more about the work than talk.
In the 2000 I secured a small house from Jim and Eileen. My brothers helped me complete it in 8days. I took a one vacation to buildout a house that had no plumbing. No bathroom or a/c. My brothers Jay and Jeff Icet are gifted with excellent experience in carpentry. Jeff was needing work so I paid him to help me in the run for 8 days. Put in a kitchen. Bathroom. A/C. Did the floors and more. Never really finished but did add later ceiling fans. A back deck and hottub. Also windows and a back door.
In February I went to Madisonville and picked up a few yards of mushroom compost. Started a garden in the front yard. Cleaned the pile of trash next to the house where I eventually built a fire pit with Gala encouragement. Worked the first year on the property closest to the house. Brought a tractor and with my father help purchased a dump trailer.
In November 2001 started the Last Organic Outpost agricultural park across the creek. Teamed up with Dr. Floyd Atkins and started a nonprofit. My son Keldren taught me how to do blog ponds. Had tractor-trailer loads of mushroom compost delivered and grew a sizable garden. Built a shed with my friend Jose. Partnered with a artist John to do a compost toilet. Had a guy across the road from the neighborhood build picnic tables. Had raw food pot lucks. Farm events with drumming and dancing. Festival with speakers and food tastings. Story telling. DJ’S and live music. Moved on in June 2005 and started the Live Oak Project in 3rd ward.
Live Oak started out as a Community Center. A weekend pot luck was reconstructed from a past. Built a culinary studio and gardens outside. Moved the hottub from Japhet creek and for a full year ran the community center. The year 2006 started the living coop where folks lived and worked on the garden project. With the help of some great people we planted 80 fruit trees where many still remain. The garden at one time was speculator. Gunter’s provided 100′ of plants. In 2007 Christmas eve started the Emile Street Community Farm project.
Everything is measured in dirt. Got the first load of mushroom compost from Madisonville. Probably 30yards. Had over the next many years loads of composted delivered. Cleaned up the land and steady added more growing spaces. After Hurricane Ike started the aquaponics project. When people came around with something to offer added it to the list. 2008 presented to the City Coucil the idea of farming. Mayor White ran with it and created the Urban Garden initiative. A year later the mayor made a visit to the Farm. There was a huge pile of trash on the lot across from the farm. That lot went to auction two weeks later and the farm aquire it for the first city lot through the L.A..R.A board under the urban garden initiative.
The present Fifthward location is working on it’s ninth year. Many ups and down. Working a full time job with as much as 500 hours of overtime each year. The last several years while moving into retirement the farm has stepped up its game. Using money from my retirement finished the aquaponics with Ryan Niles engineering the completion. Danny Wilson needed a place to stage his compost business while on vacation. So I invited him to the farm where for three weeks and more helped start the biological engine that could address food insecurities. Danny asked me what he should call his product and I suggested Farm Dirt. While working for San Jacinto environmental Mike the owner had asked me what to call his new product back in 1990. I suggested Micro Life. He went with it. Food everywhere came up with a conversation with Merriweather a local wild food expert. A food security plan for Houston.
In 2014 I Presented to City Hall on the opening session a food security plan for Houston Limited resource communities. Over the years there has been many that have contributed to the local farm effort. Prairie View A&M University came aboard with Dawn Burton And Dr. Robenson. They worked us through a logic model for the nonprofit. Lots of valuable work went into the project from many folks. Always great thanks to everyone who participated. The biggest thrust has been projects. Leaving out the administration side of things. Hopefully a new dawning ahead.