162: Jesse Sparks on Neighborhood Harvesting
Harvesting fruits and friends from your neighborhood community.
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Jesse is a sixth-generation Arizona native. His great-grandfather owned and operated a farm in Tempe, AZ, and Jesse’s mother’s side comes from farming heritage in Iowa, so he has been surrounded by gardens, fruit trees, and fresh produce his entire life.
He and his wife had a townhouse where they started growing food by converting the lawn area in the back into a little 5ft square garden. Then, after moving and expanding to a larger area with more garden space, he noticed he physically felt better after eating home-grown produce. He travels a lot for work and is constantly on airplanes with recirculated air, but he credits having never come home with “travel crud” to his healthier, home-grown eating style.
Jesse lives in the Northwest valley of Phoenix Arizona with his wife Heather, their 2 sons, and is expecting twin daughters due early 2017.
In This Podcast: An inspiring young father, Jesse shares his story with Greg about how he has started harvesting the unwanted fruit from his neighbor’s front yard and is developing a stronger community as well. Jesse’s story is delightful, and uplifting as he and his young son collect fruit, make jellies, and bring the harvest back to share. He shares how he started and it is not as hard as you might think.
Listen in and learn about:
- How he grew up around gardens and fruit trees and how that has influenced him
- Why his generation of sibling and cousins continued the practice
- Why he considers that a natural progression and not a conscious decision
- How the family heritage is continuing
- “Gleaning” or harvesting from nearby
- The inspiration to try harvesting from a huge cactus near his home
- The first time he had asked for permission to harvest a neighbor’s unwanted crop
- The Peruvian Apple Cactus and how to enjoy
- Dragon Fruit and Prickly Pear adventures
- How his neighbors responded to the sharing of the harvest
- How community relationships develop through these interactions
- Why this sharing is extending to his garden as well
- Why he feels so strongly about food waste and how his investment in his crops affect how he feels about any food going to waste
- Some edible ‘weeds’ that are being added to his salads
- Some other crops that he plans to ask for
- How many other yards he is harvesting from
- What that first conversation was like and how he approached it
- How his 6-year-old son got involved and is appreciating the harvesting
- How the weather is affecting his plants and why the heat wave has so many plants bolting
- What he is planting in his garden and why visitors need to ask what different plants are
As well as:
- The first time he tried making prickly pear fruit jelly and found a solid hunk at the bottom of his jars
- His successes are being able to eat an entire meal from his garden, and enjoying that his son is so comfortable in the garden too
- Why he appreciates his fresh garden food over store food
- Greg fills in the success that Jesse overlooked in making and strengthening his community
- How having four kids, having a hobby that has a family component drives him to do what he does
- His advice is “to get started today,” and if you have never tasted fresh produce right off the vine then you are missing out
Jesse’s Book recommendations:
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Link to Jesse’s YouTube videos: