SUSTAINABLE FARMING

Founding Farmer, Teacher

PLUM VILLAGE HAPPY FARM

A seed was planted in 2010 during a mindfulness retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism that I should come to Plum Village Monastery in France and lead the establishment of an organic vegetable farm and educational program. Two years later this seed germinated as I found myself on a plane to France for the onset of the Winter Retreat. Only a few short months later, we harvested our first spinach, cabbages, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes and many more vegetables from the Plum Village Happy Farm.

Co-Founder, Associate Director

CULTIVATE KANSAS CITY

Cultivate Kansas City (formerly the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion of urban food production and healthy eating as well as the development of sustainable urban neighborhoods. I co-founded the organization in 2005 and served as its Associate Director until 2012. At the heart of the organization is a 2-acre urban farm called Gibbs Road Farm. It has become a major demonstration site for urban agriculture innovation in the Midwest. It is also an educational center that connects different stakeholders (farmers, educators, planners, policy makers, community leaders, residents, etc.).

Gibbs Road Farm is highly productive farm that has generated revenue upwards of $110,000/annually. In the challenging Midwest growing climate, the farm serves as an inspiration for growers wishing to earn an income from their small organic farms.

Permaculture Designer
I am a trained permaculture designer with a design certificate from the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. I have taught permaculture courses on edible forest gardening and on applying permaculture principles to annual organic vegetable farming.
 
In 2010 I was awarded a conservation fellowship funded by Toyota and the Audubon Society (TogetherGreen). My project was to research, design and plant an urban food forest and to conduct an in-depth workshop on forest garden design. The workshop was the first of its kind in Kansas City and drew participants from across the Midwest. The forest garden was installed on a suburban lot in Kansas City and has thrived beautifully since its inception. Now in its 5th year, the forest garden was recently part of a study titled Urban agroforestry: Connecting agroecology, permaculture, urban forestry and urban agriculture into urban food forests and has become a much-visited demonstration site in the Kansas City area.
Project Co-Developer, Teacher

JUNIPER GARDENS TRAINING FARM

The Juniper Gardens Training Farm in Kansas City, KS, is one of the nation’s oldest refugee training farms and farm business incubators. Situated in the heart of a public housing project, the farm serves resettled refugees and others living in the area. Those enrolled in the program receive technical and financial assistance as well as training in small-scale vegetable production. Graduates of the program receive assistance in accessing land to start their own farm businesses.

My involvement with Juniper Gardens Training Farm goes to its very beginning, when the project was born out of a previous, smaller-scale refugee garden operated by our partner organization Catholic Charities. The Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture was providing farming and business education to the refugees when the need for a larger site became apparent. Over the years I supervised and managed the Juniper Gardens Training Farm, developed and taught spring trainings for farmers, installed a poly-tunnel and managed the construction of innovative storage, refrigeration and washing facilities using shipping containers.

Co-Founder, Farmer

TRAILSIDE FARM

Trailside Farm in Calhoun, Missouri, is where my organic farming career started in 1999. With little more than a dream and determination I and my then-spouse embarked on a surprise-filled journey to reconnect with the land and to find an answer to the question: Can a determined couple make a living in modern-day America with just a few acres? We acquired a neglected 15-acre property and in the course of five years turned it into a fully functioning certified organic vegetable farm that more than paid for itself.

Without any prior experience or knowledge in farming, construction or landscaping, the path to renovating the 130-year old wood-frame house and outbuildings, to constructing a greenhouse, two movable polytunnels, a 450-foot deep irrigation well, a vegetable washing station as well as cold storage and post-harvesting facilities was profoundly humbling. Never before or since did I work so hard and solve so many unfamiliar problems in such a short time with so little money. Yet, the experience has yielded many beautiful lessons and serves as a reference point to this day.

"Daniel brought great enthusiasm and an infectious joyful energy to our group and the work. This energy gifted our group with motivation and helped us to consistently achieve our goals.

Daniel used his life experience and wisdom to offer mentorship to me and the team members in matters including meditation, relationships and conflict resolution. Personally I grew a lot in Daniels company, and through dialogue with him learned a lot about what's important in life.   

What impressed me most about Daniel is his deep desire to serve. He feels a deep affinity with the earth and the inhabitants of the earth. His work reflects this affinity. He is moved to protect the environment and help those he meets grow, heal and work towards realising their true potential."

Stuart Watson
Co-Founder, Plum Village Happy Farm, Plum Village Monastery, Thénac, France

"Daniel was a definite asset to our assignment desk...it requires highly organized, flexible and intelligent individuals with exceptional communication skills and the ability to handle ever-present deadline pressure."

Richard Ayoub
Executive Producer, KCBS-TV Los Angeles, USA

"Daniel... never hesitated to go the 'extra mile' toward a better product"

Ruth Schwartz
Executive Director, Shelter Partnership, Los Angeles, USA

"Students receive invaluable opportunities for additional learning thanks to engaged farmers and community activists like yourself"

Robert J. Dole
Former U.S. Senator

"Daniel has exceptional skills as an educator, both in formal presentation and in workshop settings. He is a clear and compelling speaker. Through our partnership with Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and the New Roots for Refugee program at Juniper Gardens, he has developed particular expertise in working across language and nationality/ethnic differences and in working with non-literate refugee and immigrant communities."

Katherine Kelly
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Cultivate Kansas City, Kansas City, USA.

"Daniel has been highly organized and prepared, open to mentoring and guiding students, and a truly innovative and creative thinker. The students have had a very positive response to Daniel and his open-hearted and compassionate approach... Daniel is a patient and forgiving instructor who maintains high standards in the classroom while moving students to do more creative and challenging work."

Dr. Jacob Wagner
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design, University of Missouri, Kansas City, USA

"Propelled by his curiosity and meticulous approach, Daniel searches thoroughly and leaves no source unchecked. As a producer he has exhibited great talent in planning and supervising complex television productions, even under extreme pressure. Whatever the task at hand, Daniel consistently goes beyond the call of duty."

Alexander von Wechmar
Chief Correspondent, German Television Films, Los Angeles, USA

"Daniel also understands the needs of large organizations, and is skillful in finding out where he can help in a harmonious and insightful way. He has the qualities of a community-builder, which are rare and difficult to find, and those working with him develop a sense of trust and friendship with him easily."

Thay Phap Luu
Senior Dharma Teacher & Bhikshu Monk, Plum Village Meditation Center, France

"Daniel has been a dear and valued colleague to me, whose intelligence, creativity, sense of humor and big heart I have greatly appreciated.... Daniel is a well-organized manager, inclusive and holistic in style and, where appropriate, also hands-on. He involves people, works hard to build consensus and makes team members feel valued and heard. Daniel goes the extra mile in finding and implementing lasting and comprehensive solutions."

Rachel Pollock
Director of Refugee and Immigration Programs, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, USA