Feeding People is in our Blood
Born in 1914, Ercel learned firsthand the value of thriving under oppressive circumstances. Surviving two World Wars and the Great Depression as the oldest of eight siblings, she learned what many of us today take for granted – self-reliance. The first of her family to be college educated and a gainfully employed female with a business degree, Ercel chose marriage in 1939 and motherhood in 1941. She then found herself a single mother, whilst her husband fought in the South Pacific, working for the ration board – dividing up what was then sparse food stores in rural West Virginia.
Once the war was over and her husband came
home, they settled on a 100+ acre tract of
land and began what we now call a
“homestead farm,” raising hogs, chickens,
cattle, sheep, an orchard, a vineyard, and a
vegetable garden. As the years went by, the
livestock vanished, and the orchard aged out.
What was left fed her family of four and
countless others abundantly year-round, a
one-acre vegetable plot. She found exponential happiness in how she cared for her
family and others.
Fast forward to our day and her grandson, Everett Hendrixon, founder of Harvest², a complete design, build, maintenance, and educational firm devoted to providing every person their own farm in their own space. Even those with little or no land!
Everett spent most of his career in horticulture and specialty agriculture (fruits and vegetables). What he learned was based on historical views of growing developed alongside WWII, our last agricultural revolution. He was happier than a clam at an oyster bake until 2019 and the onset of the pandemic in 2020. In an instant, this father of two toddlers himself, saw the food supply chain collapse three
times in short order. He saw growers turning over perfectly good crops because they had no commercial buyer, saw growers planting 1/3 of their regular crop because they had no commercial buyer, and agriculture markets tanking – because they had no commercial buyer. During all this he knew that everyday every member of his family got hungry – repeatedly.
He started a food pantry and a labyrinth of outdoor raised garden beds in an attempt to recreate what his grandmother had done. He ran into several challenges and began doing oodles of research on growing high density, nutrient rich foods utilizing limited space. Pursuant to that he learned that hydroponics wasn’t just for marijuana and that aeroponics was a perfect indoor solution to the scorching Florida heat and mold inducing humidity. Then one day he got a call from a headhunter looking to fill a position with ECO Supply, a new aeroponic/hydroponic distributor set up around the Flex Farm, and within a week Harvest² was born.
In a confluence of passions, Everett and his co-owners, discovered that helping others brings abundant happiness and that billions of people live each day as if it will be repeated tomorrow, without thought as to whether they will eat and if what they eat provides their bodies what they need– it’s been taken for granted for the last 50 years. The Harvest² team also knows this time should not be one of overwhelming fear but one of great hope, hope that we can now truly learn what needs to be done to feed ourselves and others. There is a lot of information about how much the globe needs to produce to feed a growing population, but little to no discussion about the fact that the current food supply chain wastes over 40% of the food produced today. We don’t need to work harder; we need to work smarter and, in that lies a huge opportunity to reignite the human spirit by connecting it with its physical food source – the farm.