Story & Heritage
When purchased in 2010, what is now Green Gate Family Farm, was part of an Amish family farm. They raised cattle, hay, sweet corn and melons conventionally, and they started a small orchard and some garden plots of vegetables to feed their family. After the purchase, we immediately went through a required “transition period” from their conventional farming to our organic production (no more synthetic fertilizers and pesticides were used on this farm!). We also needed to do a lot of infrastructure work on the property. The existing family house was fairly new, but there was no electricity on the property at all, meaning no hot water in the house! So while moving in and opening lots of boxes, we also started running all the electric lines through the basement, bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms, and we added a hot water heater.
Another thing that happened in the summer of 2010 was that Ken and Kate met on a farm tour organized by Lincoln University. By the spring of 2011, GGFF was selling produce at the Sedalia Farmers Market, and then moved over to selling our fruit, produce and eggs at Brookside Farmers Market later that year. On Dec 7, 2013, Ken and Katie went to the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington and tied the knot on the banks of the Nooksack River in the snow, sleet and occasional sunshine on a beautiful day all around.
GGFF has been Certified Organic since April 2014 by the State of Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF), covering our entire 67 acres, and all of our produce and bedding plants. Since then, we have added a new water well, and an in-ground irrigation to our fields and growing areas, as well as two 30’ by 96’ long high-tunnels and a 30’ by 48’ heated greenhouse. Other recent infrastructure upgrades in several other vital areas of GGFF production, including our “new” walk-in refrigerator and a new produce handling and processing area in our work building. We are now (2019) in our 9th year of full—time farm production. This farm is our home and our business.
Ever since I was a little kid I have been spoiled with fresh food from the garden. My father always had a big plot of land under cultivation and I knew what tomatoes were supposed to taste like! When I went to college, I found "my people" and my community in the student-run farm- "The Outback Farm." Since graduating from college, I have been able to experience agriculture and sustainable living in many countries. Every country I lived in was a wonderful learning experience, but it never felt like home. And so after being gone for over 12 years, I found myself back in Kansas City. I immersed myself in the good food movement taking place in the land I was born and it felt like home. Not long after I meet my fellow farm and life partner, Ken. Farming has been one of my greatest challenges, but also offers so many rewards. I continue to be engaged in the good food community that is working hard to scale up local food production and help the farming community realize economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
HS: Bishop Miege High School
Western Washington University
P.L.A.N.E.T. Organic- New Zealand
Recent Work (other than farming):
Food Systems Specialist- West Central Missouri Community Action Agency (present)
Farmer Owner/President Board of Directors- The Kansas City Food Hub (formally Fresh Farm HQ), cooperative food hub serving the KC region (present)- www.thekcfoodhub.com
Producer Network Development Specialist- Lincoln University Cooperative Extension
Small Farm Specialist- LUCE
1st farm experience- “My grandparents had a small family farm when I was growing up. I spent a lot of summers and holidays there until they moved into town. Even in town, they had a couple of acres, and still grew a lot of food. My grandfather talked to me about plant health and nutrition a lot. He believed that these came together, from strong, healthy soil, which was built largely with good compost and minimal tillage.”
HS- barely, 1980.
BS- Pathobiology, College of Agriculture, University of Connecticut, 1989.
MS- Zoology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, U of Connecticut, 1992.
MSEL- Master’s Studies in Environmental Law, Vermont Law School, 2002.
Field Biologist- Life cycles of avian parasites in New England; life cycle studies and molecular analysis of the parasites of cattle and humans in Kenya; parasites of sharks and rays from Long Island, Florida Keys, Belize, California, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal.
Laboratory Biologist- Researched parasite morphology, electron microscopy, and molecular sequencing and analysis.
Biology Instructor- Human Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, General Biology, other stuff, part-time/full-time until 2010 (I finally got out!).