Listen to interview with Joe Jennings, Best Urban Farmer 2007

Joe Jennings, J-14 Agricultural EnterprisesJoe Jennings

Best Urban Farmer (2007)

4600 Sorter Drive Kansas City, Kan., KS 66104

Give him an inch of soil, and Joe Jennings will go the extra mile. He may be 78 years old, but this farmer works from sunrise to sunset, making sure every nook and cranny of his eight-acre property � be it a tiny strip along the gravel driveway or a parcel near the stairs to his back door � is flush with organic fruits and vegetables. Nearly 10 years ago, the Texas native and longtime Kansas City resident bought the land just northwest of Kansas City, Kansas, after spending half a lifetime as a teacher. Before long, the lifelong gardener was producing so much food that he had to buy industrial-sized freezers because he still had produce left over, even after supplying the City Mission homeless shelter with all the veggies it needed. Now, Jennings runs his operation according to the community-supported-agriculture concept. City slickers subscribe for $200. He gives them a key to the front gate, and they can pick up to 500 pounds of produce over the course of the six-month harvest season. Of course, Jennings doesn’t just raise second-to-none, chemical-free vegetables; he also cultivates inner-city youths. Thanks to his involvement with Camp CARVER (City Agricultural Resourceful Visionaries Entering Real Life), kids from the Kansas City core help out at J-14 Agricultural Enterprises and learn that, thanks to farmers like Jennings, even the most urban consumers don’t have to look beyond their city zip code for fresh produce.

Be sure to schedule your spring field trips for youth early…

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