Drumroll Please! Welcome the Newest Member of Team Apple Seeds!
Apple Seeds Teaching Farm Manager, Cale Nicholson
Cale brings a breadth of experience in both farming and school garden education to his role--we're proud and humbled that he's decided to take this journey with us.
Aside from his name (ahem, could it be more perfect?), here's a glimpse into what makes him tick.
Earliest Food Memory?
I grew up on a beef cattle farm in Arkansas in Van Buren County. My mom and granny always had big gardens and would “put up” a lot of what we grew each year. Being a big job, this was, of course, a family affair and I remember shucking corn during those hot and humid ‘80s summers in my granny’s yard beneath the shade of a maple tree and shelling purple hull peas (far and away my favorite food as a kid) with all of my young cousins in her tiny living room with the window unit cranking, peas flying everywhere.
I come from a farming family and loved growing up on a farm. I took my pastoral childhood for granted a bit as a precocious teenager and distanced myself from my past for a few years, but my love of farming was rekindled after college during my first season as a summer intern in the Heifer Ranch’s CSA garden in Perryville. This was my first exposure to organic agriculture and the realities of the modern global food system. This experience led to several organic gardening internships across the country over the next few years culminating in my running the Heifer CSA for the 2007 season. In grad school in Oxford, Mississippi I started a small garden education program at the local Boys and Girls Club and realized that my strengths and passions lie in education rather than larger scale production. This sentiment was only underscored during my recent two years as the Delta Garden Study’s garden educator for the Searcy County School District in Marshall.
What Do You Love Most About Farming?
I love being outdoors. I love keeping track of precipitation and talking to other farmers that do the same. I love being around other folks who are passionate about sustainable agriculture. I love eating what I grow. I love experiencing the magic of gardening with students. I love wearing overalls. I love going to sleep at night with that good weary feeling you only get after a day of hard work.
My greatest challenge this coming year will be juggling a multitude of responsibilities in my dual roles as Apple Seeds Teaching Farm Manager and Arkansas GardenCorps Assistant Director. I think I’ll be fine, though, because I love to stay busy and thrive on multitasking.
Favorite Spring Vegetables?
I never used to love radishes until I started growing them en mass a few years ago. Spicy and fast! Roasted turnips are a simple yet incredible dish. You can never go wrong with lettuce. I love planting potatoes in the spring. Carrots are the pits to thin but the most fun to harvest.
Favorite Kale Recipe?
(Clarification: Yes, my name is pronounced the same as the leafy green but is spelled with a “C.” The scoop is I was named after a racecar driver from the ‘70s, which is kind of ridiculous. In any case, since I grew up to be a gardener I think it worked out well!)
Q: How can you go wrong with kale chips?! Stem them, drizzle with a little olive oil, and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350.
A: You can’t go wrong.
Favorite Farming Playlist?
Seeding or thinning beds in the greenhouse usually requires something to curb the monotony which means it’s podcast time. Lowbrow days warrant Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang! If I’m in more of a cerebral mood I’m listening to TED talks. I like to listen to music in the field and artists vary on my mood anywhere from the Strokes, the Black Keys, or Junior Kimbrough to Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, or Lucinda Williams. I also often pair a late ‘50s/early ‘60s rockabilly compilation called Rockin’ Bones with a similar period collection entitled Songs the Cramps Taught Us. I’m currently looking for a good Doo Wop compilation if anyone has any tips…
What Excites You the Most About Working on the Apple Seeds Farm?
I’m excited to be back in the Ozarks after a short stint in central Arkansas! An incredible sustainable ag and garden education movement has been happening in NWA for several years now and Apple Seeds is an important component to this community of likeminded individuals, farms, and organizations. On a personal level, I’m thrilled to be returning to farming and garden education after a year facilitating AmeriCorps service members in similar programs in Little Rock. I hope the Apple Seeds Teaching farm becomes a locus for garden education in the region and can’t wait to have community members and students out there on a regular basis. I’m a big fan of collaboration and look forward most to being a part of this great community.