Earthwise Gardens & Produce
Earthwise is literally a dream come true! Christina and I started dreaming about farming in the Spring of 2009 while living in England. Our oldest son, Evan was just 3, and we had another one on the way. We were nearing the end of our time in the UK, and we were in the process of planning our next move, so I started looking into possible farm internships that could accommodate all four of us!
It wasn’t easy. Not many places could deal with a family of four, with small children. I remember making lists of organic farms all over Texas (kind of short at that time!) to call and make inquiries. After striking out in Texas, we expanded our search to northern New Mexico, where my sister Katy was living. Almost immediately, our luck started to change All of the sudden, we had lots of options to choose from, and we decided to work on a small garlic farm in the La Madera valley near Ojo Caliente, NM. One of my first jobs on the farm was moving irrigation pipe to water the alfalfa fields. That first summer, Christina and I adjusted to our new life at the edge of the Carson National Forest. We all slept in a small one room adobe and we ate our meals in a canvas wall tent. I hooked up a hose from a nearby well to an old kitchen sink to wash dishes in the summer, but in the winter we hauled our water.
Bill was the garlic farmer, and he had about a half acre of vegetables in addition to his main crop of garlic, he also had one of the most beautiful pieces of ground I’ve ever seen. It was about 20 acres of sandy river bottom land, that sloped down to the La Madera River to the east. On the other side of the river was the face of a steep mountain covered in pinon and juniper. About half of the acreage was alfalfa fields which were cut for hay. Around 2 acres was terraced for the garlic and vegetables, and the remaining acreage was native grass and cottonwoods. The crops were irrigated from the La Cueva Ditch (the name of the local acequia which was built in the 1820s) in accordance with the old Spanish tradition of rotational watering days using flood irrigation from the communally shared water flowing in the ditch. We harvested green beans, garlic, honey, and jerusalem artichokes for the Santa Fe market that first summer. I learned how to sell at the market, and we continued on.
That fall I planted 5000 cloves of garlic, and started my own market garden on the farm. I decided to plow it with donkeys and a walking plow. My neighbor, john had a bunch of old farm equipment and had experience with draft animal farming, so he taught me how to drive a team. We bought two Mammoth Jack donkeys named Jake and Major. that were already trained for working the fields and we went to work on an acre field by the river. It was full of horsetail grass and red willow, but we eventually knocked it out. It took the three of us about a week and a half of solid days plowing to plow that acre. Jake and Major might have been experienced, but I definitely was not! I had to learn so much — when to push them, when to stop for a break, when to stop for the day. We were a team, and there was a sweet spot, when we were all clicking, and that’s when we could actually get work done. But if we weren’t in the zone, I learned it was better to just stop for a while and come back to it fresh. Now I use a tiller, and even that is so much faster than working with those donkeys, but I’ll never forget the feeling and the sounds of working with animals. It was pure beauty and satisfaction.
Ryan Crocker, Grower/Owner
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and spending three years traveling throughout Mexico and Europe, Ryan began his life in organic farming.
His desire to practice sustainable agriculture led him to a remote mountain valley in La Madera, New Mexico in the summer of 2009. There he grew a variety of produce for sale at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market using low-impact methods and plowing with donkeys. In 2011, he moved with his family back to his home state of Texas. Currently, as the owner of Earthwise Gardens and Produce, he runs a CSA and provides local produce to his community in Denton, TX.
Our Garden, Earthwise Gardens
Our garden is right here in Denton at 2906 Locust Street, just 5 minutes from the square. We are currently growing about half an acre of vegetables, with plans to expand soon! You can see photos from our garden here. We also plant edible gardens for our community by request!
Our Shop, Earthwise Produce
As the harvest comes, we bring produce directly from our farm and other Texas, organic farms to our shop on a weekly basis. Now that’s fresh and local!!
Shop Hours are Tuesday – Friday : 10-7, Sat and Sun: 10-3. We are also at the Denton Community Market on Saturday mornings. We are closed Mondays.
Earthwise Produce shop carries citrus from the Texas valley, additional produce from Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin, sweet peppers from Wolf Creek Farm and mushrooms from Denton’s Backyard Garden, as well as others (Meet the Farmers here!). Everything in our shop is Texas-grown and organic.