83: Jason Mraz
Farming on the Road
Bringing the farming passion while on a performance tour.
Jason Mraz is a well-known, two-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter. But what many don’t know about Jason is that he’s also an urban farming enthusiast with a passion for gardening. Jason has been backyard homesteading for the past 5 years and currently owns and operates a 10-acre subtropical fruit orchard where he grows avocado, coffee and 25 other fruit varieties. He believes a connection to farmers and/or the origin of food itself can empower a person to live a happier, healthier, eco-friendlier and more economical life.
This is part 2 of a two-part series on Jason Mraz’s food-growing journey (listen to part 1 here). How does Jason find time to be a farmer when he’s always touring? Who takes care of the farm while he’s away? How is he bringing urban farming to the communities he tours in? Listen in to learn how Jason expresses his “other” passion.
Some highlights from this episode:
The nights he performs after a day of gardening are the best nights: “There’s just such an energy I get from having a garden make a difference… And then you go play a show, and all that joy comes out in the music.”
Did you know that Jason plants one tree for every domestic flight and 5 trees for every international flight he takes, multiplied by the number of people he’s traveling with, to offset his carbon footprint while traveling? His yearly average is 2500 trees! And any he doesn’t plant himself he donates to worldwide forestry services.
Through his foundation, he hosts tree planting events during his tours. Many of his volunteers had never planted a tree before, and to Jason’s delight said they would do it again. As he told us before the interview (and touched on during the interview):
“In South Africa, a pharmaceutical company decided to convert a parking lot into a garden which now contributes food hundreds of families of employees and nearby citizens of the factory. We helped with their initial planting and contributed to their supply needs. In Detroit, we helped harvest potatoes on a chilly wet morning. In Austin, we cleaned up a park for seniors and provided trees with mulch. In Northern California, we planted 70 fruit trees for one of Amma’s ashrams. In Brooklyn, we worked alongside NYC Parks to excavate concrete and glass from a vacant lot to help transform it into what it is today, a garden that serves it’s community. There are many others.”
A book that was influential for Jason?
The World Without Us by Alan Wiseman – It’s a look at our planet if all the humans disappeared. What would the future look like without us? “It really made me look at my backyard differently and the impact that I could have on my backyard. And it really made me realize how you can change the world by focusing on your backyard. The idea of being an environmentalist can be overwhelming if you think you’re the person responsible for saving the rain forest…If we can inspire our next door neighbor, then they will inspire their neighbor, and so on and so on, and we can impact the planet as a whole.”
More great advice from Jason:
“Just get started.”
If you live in an apartment, try sprouting. Jason even does sprouting on his tour bus! “I think sprouting is a really cool way, especially for people starting, to get into the habit of caring for something.” (By the way, we at Urban Farm U love this book on creating a soil sprout garden)
“Plant a tree…and why not make it a fruit tree?”
“Visit your local nurseries.”
“Visit a farmer’s market.”
“Just get out there and try, try, try, try again.”