It’s a rare thing to make a belief system not only a way of living, but a means of leaving – and, yet, it seems if there was a way to do it, it would be Brooke who would. She was humble and peaceful, and yet, her passion was strong, deeply rooted. In awe, with intrigue, I asked her about the foundation of this so very personal, all-consuming mission.
“I’d grown up in midwestern suburbia. Frankly, I was a very jaded teenager … uninspired by American values, microwave dinners, fertilized lawns, so on and so forth. At the age of 18, I dropped out of college and began traveling to older parts of the world in search of the “meaning of life.” In order to fund my travels, I worked on organic farms in exchange for room and board. While picking fava beans in a lonely field in southeastern Sicily in the heat of the afternoon, I realized this was my calling. Putting my hands in the soil grounded me in a way I’d never felt before. It gave me purpose. It gave my life meaning. From that point on, I vowed to live simply, grow my own food, provide my own basic needs, and to feed others.”
Meet Brooke Salvaggio of BADSEED (farmers market & “green” event space) in the Crossroads Arts District and URBAVORE (diversified organic farmstead) just east of the Plaza near Swope Park.
What inspired your passion?
A love of the land & PURE food, as well as the need for an alternative food culture in the midwest.
Tell us about your business and the product/service you provide.
I am an organic farmer and food activist. My husband and I own & operate BADSEED – a “green” events space in the Crossroads Arts District that celebrates local food, culture, and community. We host a weekly organic farmers’ market where conscious consumers can purchase seasonal delights such as heirloom produce, grass-fed meats, artisan cheese, freshly milled flour, wholesome baked goods, free-range eggs, etc. Our own farm products are the centerpiece of this eclectic urban market. Our organic vegetables & fruits are produced on 13.5 acres of urban land just 5 miles east of the Country Club Plaza. The farm, known as URBAVORE, is among the largest urban farms in the nation. We pride ourselves in flavor-packed, nutrient dense foods grown with a whole lotta love using “beyond-organic” practices.
Who do you target as clientele?
Conscious consumers, environmentalists, health foodies and community activists.
What do you believe makes what you do unique?
What sets us apart is that we are not in competition with anyone! That’s the wonderful thing about the organic farming movement. We farmers stick together, support one another, and help build the alternative food movement with each and every seed we plant. The work we do is incredibly challenging and it takes a great deal of “community mindedness” to keep going despite the long hours, low pay, and high risk.
Tell us briefly about your family and your approach to balancing the roles of mother and business owner.
My husband and I are farmers in the fullest sense of the word. Our 3-year-old son has witnessed life & death on the farm from day one. He’s a product of sun, soil, & compost (much like the plants & animals we raise). Percy is with me on the farm three days a week and in the evenings. Both my husband and I try to engage him with the farm tasks as much as possible. The farm is a perfect environment for a child and it is our hope that he will benefit immensely from his many interactions with plants & animals. He collects eggs, harvests ingredients for dinner, shoves handfuls of berries in his mouth, pulls weeds, and spreads mulch. (He also throws many a tantrum in the middle of the field to the horror of both his parents!) All joking aside, I hope he will fully enjoy the fruits of our labor … as we have spent every waking minute building this reality that has become his childhood. I work around the clock. Every single day is emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. Despite my unending responsibilities to the farm, market, and food community, I have not compromised my holistically-minded parenting ethics. Percy was cloth-diapered, breast-fed (and still is), and each and every meal is prepared from scratch using whole & organic ingredients. We have childcare three days a week, and the rest of the time he is on the farm or at the market selling vegetables. I hope to get to a point with my business that allows me to have him with me full-time so that we may both experience the fruits of the farm and the rewards of a nurturing relationship.
What has been your greatest success so far in your business, or what are you most proud of?
With regard to BADSEED, I am most proud of the amazing community of farmers & eaters that comes together each and every Friday night. The market itself comes alive and there is truly an energy that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced here in Kansas City or in any city, for that matter. This unique energy comes from a common compassion amongst people who are truly dedicated to ethically-produced foods and healthier communities.
As for URBAVORE, I am most proud of the incredible (edible) ecosystem that has been created on what was once blighted and underutilized land. Prior to us purchasing the property, the City was spending $20,000 a year to mow the grass (those are people’s tax dollars!). In the 3 1/2 years that we’ve been there building the farm & planting seeds, we’ve produced over $200,000 worth of food.
To learn more about Brooke + her mission of natural, simple, healthy living, and to her beautiful farmstead in its entirety, visit the Allison Corrin Photography blog here.