Denzel Mitchell, BFTP Class of 2011
Five Seeds Farm and Apiary, Sparks, MD and Baltimore City, MD
What is Five Seeds Farm and Apiary?
Five Seeds Farm and Apiary has two locations: one in Baltimore City, and our main farm in Baltimore County is in Sparks, MD. We are a diversified vegetable farm. We are growing without the use of synthetic chemicals and pesticides, though we are not certified organic. We have a fifty person CSA and we sell at four farmers markets and do a lot of restaurant sales.
How did you get started farming?
I grew up traveling to farms and homesteads that were run by two aunts of mine. When I started to have kids, I wanted them to have a similar experience. We moved to Baltimore City in 2006 and I started to do some level of homesteading then. I started a CSA for friends and family and folks that lived in the neighborthood. I started doing some marketing in the neighborhood with Real Food Farm, which was just starting around the same time, and thought about selling to restaurants. It was a really organic progression; I didn't have a plan. I was just excited about it, and it seemed like there was a lot of opporutnity. In 2011, I did the Beginning Farmer Training Program and when I finished the season with Jack and Beckie in the training program, the opportunity to rent a piece of land and a house came up and we decided to move and make a go of it.
What was challenging about starting to farm? What was rewarding?
Biggest challenges... It's been difficult to farm with young children. The amount of time that a farm recquires and the amount of time that children require- there just aren't enough hours in the day. The amount of capital that is needed to run a farm is a challenge-- we don't have a tractor. Often, I just think, if I just had a tractor.... to move something, or do tillage work. I find that farmers markets can be really rewarding and also really challenging at the same time. Being a new vendor at a farmers market can be really difficult.
Rewards... It's awesome to be able to eat vegetables that you produced, it's nice to be able to have food in the house for family and extended family. Running a businesss for me is really rewarding... I've always had an entrepeneurial spirit, so that fills that gap. It's really awesome to be plugged into a rapid and positively changing food system. As I've spent time learning about how awful the real food system is, it's awesome that so much is changing and I'm happy to be a part of that.