Evan Barry started his farming career volunteering on a 1.5 acre market garden in Asheville, North Carolina. It was there where he had realization after realization about where our food comes from and the facade with which much of the industry hides behind. From conversations with the farmers he worked with, he became inspired to continue within the field. He spent 10 months working there in total. Part time in the beginning, and later becoming a full time worker.
After this experience, he decided to travel and explore agriculture internationally. He left for what ended up being a year in South America working on six different farms in Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. From sheep in Patagonia to cacao and coffee in Ecuador, to a vineyard in Argentina.
The experience of learning where, how, and who were behind these plants that we call commodities was fascinating. These experiences allowed him to see the cultural implications of our actions and to see the world from a very unique perspective.
In an effort to be closer to his family upon return, he sought a job as a farmhand near Chicago. He found his way to Henry's Farm, where he feels he truly began witnessing the dance that is farming. He learned the way one crop weaves into another seamlessly.
The spring lettuces make way for mulching tomatoes which falls into the first summer squash harvest then the intensive weeding sessions,next the sweet corn harvest which makes way for the green bean harvest, leading back to lettuces in the fall, and finally clearing the field before the first frost.
The web seems so simple and logical yet so complex. But with a little knowledge and a lot of awareness, one is able to draw lines from crop to crop; seeding, planting, weeding, mulching, harvesting and see how they connect/relate to each other. He learned how to focus on each of his senses and movements to farm as effectively and efficiently as possible. He learned what it feels like to live and breathe this profession, day in and day out for the entirety of a season.
While he is still learning, as we all are and always will be, he feels ready to combine all his agricultural experiences into what will be Down River Farm.