Farm Fresh and Foxy: The New Crop of Farmers

Equal parts stylish and sustainable, these young men and women are putting a new face on the farming industry. They're not your grandfather's farmers.

Photo By: Image courtesy of Anthony-Masterson Photography

Photo By: Image courtesy of David Mwanaka

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Craig Tucker

Photo By: Photo by Ron Manville

Photo By: Photo courtesy of 3 Porch Farm

Photo By: Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Nick Baker

Photo By: Photo by Ali Harper

Photo By: Image courtesy of Anthony-Masterson Photography

Photo By: Photo by Jason Thrasher/Thrasher Photo

Photo By: Photo by Rickett & Sones

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Ben Eichorn

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jared Hughes

Photo By: Image courtesy of Anthony-Masterson

Photo By: Photo by Rob Brinson

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Jenny-Jack Sun Farm

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Acre

Celia Barss, Woodland Gardens

Canadian by birth, Celia Barss was raised in Papua New Guinea and has lived all over the world, learning several languages along the way. She graduated from the UC Santa Cruz Organic Farm program, is an expert in small-scale architecture, a new mom and the manager and grower at Woodland Gardens, an organic fruit, vegetable and cut-flower farm in Winterville, Georgia. 

David Mwanaka, Mwanaka Farm Fresh Foods, UK

Born in Zimbabwe, David Mwanaka now farms in the United Kingdom, where he specializes in growing white maize and white sweet corn, previously unheard of in Britain. David also grows pumpkins, squash and mustard greens when he's not indulging in his side career as a musician. You can find out more about David and his farming endeavors at Farm Fresh Foods.

Craig Tucker, Tucker Farms

In 2007, Craig Tucker left the construction industry to start a garden on rented land. Two years later, he started Tucker Farms on the banks of the Oostanula River in Rome, Georgia. Today it’s a sustainable vegetable and hydroponic greens farm supported by farmers' markets and restaurants from Atlanta to northwest Georgia.  

Chef Tyler Brown, Double H Farms

Five years ago, Tyler Brown had only grown three tomato plants in his life. Now the executive chef of Capitol Grille in Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel spends his off hours farming, harvesting okra and tomatoes at The Farm at Glen Leven and raising cattle at Double H Farms in Dickson County, Tennessee. Tyler graduated magna cum laude from Johnson & Wales University, is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and serves on the board of the Slow Food USA, Nashville chapter.

Steve and Mandy O'Shea, 3 Porch Farm

A Georgia native with a degree in horticulture, Mandy O’Shea went to California to learn about horses, and olive oil. She returned with husband Steve, who has a background in everything from biology to veggie oil vehicle mechanics, to start 3 Porch Farm in Comer, Georgia. They grow fruit and flowers, plus offer Honeypopsseasonings, syrups and honey

Brandon Chonko, Grassroots Farms

Brandon Chonko graduated from Valdosta State University with a degree in history and had no intention of starting a farm. But after repeated trips to the grocery store for his family left him feeling confused and frustrated, he started an organic garden, added beehives, hens, quail and chickens. Today he runs Grassroots Farms in Tattnall County, Georgia, which offers pasture-raised chicken, duck, turkey and eggs. 

Nick Baker, Baker’s Acres

After pursuing a telecommunications degree at Ohio State and Ohio University, Nick Baker decided he felt better digging in the dirt. As the head of plant production and crop management at Baker’s Acres, a retail greenhouse in Alexandria, Ohio, Nick oversees the watering, transplanting and stocking of plant material including perennials, trees, herbs, vegetables and succulents. 

Ross and Rebecca Williams, Many Fold Farm

At Warren Wilson College, Ross Williams milked cows, learned how to drive a tractor and programmed the farm’s sales database. After working on Heifer International’s Overlook Farm, he and his wife, Rebecca, worked at Hickory Nut Gap Farm then bought a farm in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. Many Fold Farm offers eggs, wool, lamb and cheese made in their own creamery. 

Darby and Elliot Smith, Sun Dog Farm

At Sun Dog Farm in Blairsville, Georgia, Elliot and Darby Smith oversee 12.5 acres originally farmed by Hugh Lovel, author of "A Biodynamic Farm." They grow crops and livestock that they sell to Atlanta chefs and at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market. “Our growing practices are sustainable and reflect the deep partnership we share with the delicate ecosystem that houses our farm,” Darby says. 

John Cooper, Woodland Gardens

A rare commodity in the world of farming, John Cooper, pictured here with his wife Celia, brings both business and botany experience to the table at Woodland Gardens in Winterville, Georgia. The South Carolina native has an international MBA from the University of South Carolina, has worked in Oaxaca, Mexico, with Fair Trade and organic coffee producers and is skilled in perennial production. 

Ron Finley, Renegade Gardener

Dubbed the “Guerrilla Gardener” and an “eco-lutionary,” fashion designer-turned-gardener Ron Finley blew the minds of everyone in (and out of) the horticulture industry with a TED talk about turning the vacant lots of South Central L.A. into gardens. He grows food so his hungry neighbors can eat and learn and have access to fresh produce.

Ben Eichorn, Grow Your Lunch

Despite growing up on Country Flat Farm, an organic and biodynamic farm in Big Sur, California, Ben Eichorn didn't plan to become a grower. But his undergraduate education at Whitman College sent him to Havana, Cuba, to study urban agriculture and he became fascinated with garden plots connected to schools and hospitals. Now he's "Farmer Ben," founder of Grow Your Lunch, an organization that develops edible gardens for schools.  

Jared Hughes, Groovy Plants Ranch

Twenty-five year old Jared Hughes started Groovy Plants Ranch in Cardington, Ohio, “with nothing more than a few cuttings of succulents.” Now he produces 15,000 4-inch succulents, 2,000 cold hardy cacti and 5,000 1-gallon perennials, is building his third greenhouse and will begin offering mail-order plants in the spring.

Justin Dansby, Serenbe Farms

A computer science and forestry major at Clemson University, Justin Dansby decided to be a farmer after apprenticing on a New York farm that allowed him to oversee a chicken livestock operation. Today he’s the manager of Serenbe Farms, a title he shares with his wife, Paige Witherington. They work 25 acres of sustainable farmland in the Chattahoochee Hill Country of southwest Georgia and oversee more than 350 varieties of flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit. 

Paige Witherington, Serenbe Farms

A Tennessee native, Paige Witherington graduated from Clemson University with a degree in biosystems engineering and apprenticed at a farm in New York’s Hudson Valley before landing at Serenbe Farms in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia. With her husband and co-farm manager, Justin Dansby, Paige oversees 25 acres of farmland that produces 350 varieties of flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit and supplies a CSA, farmers' market and restaurants in the sustainable community of Serenbe. 

Jenny and Chris Jackson, Jenny-Jack Sun Farm

Jenny and Chris Jackson met at the University of Georgia, got married and started Jenny-Jack Sun Farm on Jenny’s family land in Pine Mountain, Georgia. They grow fruit and vegetables, raise more than 100 pastured chickens and graze 10 heritage breed pigs, all of which are sustained by a 140-member CSA. 

Chef David Bancroft, Acre

David Bancroft, chef/owner of Acre restaurant in Auburn, Alabama, built his restaurant on one exact acre of land where he has a full vegetable garden and fruit trees that produce everything from broccoli and Brussels sprouts to peaches and guava. “I don’t have a special food philosophy,” he says. “I just know where my food comes from.” 

Urban Farmer Eugene Cooke

Activist and farmer Eugene Cooke has a five-acre plot in an Atlanta neighborhood where homelessness, obesity, poor nutrition and a disconnect from the land can take a toll. But thanks to his efforts, the local community is now reaping the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally. "Giving people a solution that's very close at hand," says Cooke is his mission at the plot he works behind the Atlanta Good Shepherd Community Church. Cooke also farms and preaches the benefits of growing at farms in Jamaica and South Africa, circling the planet like a very hip Johnny Appleseed.