Hello dear readers. My name is Eric Bowen. My late wife, Helen Chappell, convinced me to start this website as a place to collect big ideas about systems thinking in agriculture. She and I first sketched out what the blog would look like in the food court of Southpoint mall (somehow it seems poetic, doesn’t it?).
I’m a North Carolina native with degrees from NCSSM (where I met Helen) and NC State (c/o 2007). I then worked as an apprentice at CEFS and developed a deep love for farming and creative solutions to farming’s problems. My partner Helen and I then moved to Colorado where I studied ecology at Colorado State University. My thesis project investigated the effects of grazing on soil carbon in pastures along the Virginia Blue Ridge.
After grad school, I moved to Athens, GA to develop educational programs and farm at Spring Valley EcoFarms, a non-profit education farm. I learned a lot about marketing and sold through Athens Locally Grown, the country’s first online farmers’ market. The experience convinced me that online markets (with a weekly pop-up market) can move tons of food, benefiting both producers and eaters.
I’m now working to bring the Open Food Network (facebook) to North America. Open Food Net extends on the online farmers market idea and easily allows farmers to sell to more than one market. It can also be used by to coordinate the connections between farmers, multi-farm CSAs, foodhubs, coops and restaurants. Check out the test server here.
UPDATE: Eric and Little Bear were struck by tragedy in April 2014, when Helen fell ill with flu then developed ARDS and a systemic MRSA infection. They are still grappling with her death. Eric is gradually getting started on the business again and is now a fellow at Bull City Forward.
Contact us at rethinkagriculture (at) gmail.com