Royal Oak Mirror

After being picked, processed and shipped thousands of miles to a table near you, our food is just plain worn out.

Or as Ferndale resident Trevor Johnson says, "You're eating stressed-out food."

It fits with our stressed-out lives, always running to this and trying to accomplish that before the day's over.

It's enough to make us forget that eating is a privilege as well as a necessity, something that, if done correctly, can nourish our soul as well.

That's where Johnson comes in. He's looking to carry a new food revolution on his 24-year-old shoulders, educating people about the food they eat, where it comes from, why it's grown the way it is.

He wants to help people to "foster that food revolution in their front and back yards."

To that end, Johnson has started his own business called "Rent-a-Farmer," which offers clients the chance to use the expertise of real farmers to help them grow fruits and vegetables in their back yards. "This is not about going back to the farm," said Johnson, who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in horticulture. "It's about bringing the farm back to us."

Johnson is founder of Ferndale's Good Neighbors Garden, which rents out gardening space for residents in Ferndale and bordering cities to grow their own produce.

Rent-a-Farmer would allow clients to buy a basic-level package that includes, for example, gardening tutorials and access to gardening tools. Each successive level would include increasing involvement from farmers, and the premium package would essentially send a farming expert to your back yard to oversee your home garden.

Other services may include help in building containers for raised beds and constructing a small greenhouse to extend the growing season.

"We're really open to whatever clients want," Johnson said.

Johnson's mom, Debbie, loves her son's idea and thinks the times are amenable to this sort of business.

"People want things that are green," she said. "They want to eat local. It's exciting."

Johnson thinks so, too, and he's already got some farming and gardening experts on board, as well as some potential clients lined up. He's still looking for gardeners who are willing to be part-time farming consultants. Those interested in becoming "farmers" don't have to have a degree or work in horticulture professionally, he said. "What we're looking for is experience."

And as intuitive as Johnson is in matters of the earth, he may be somewhat counter intuitive in matters of business. He's hoping he doesn't have any one client for longer than two years, by which time he hopes they learn to cultivate crops for themselves.

At some point, he said laughing, Rent-a-Farmer may go out of business completely.
"And I'm OK with that," he said, "because we'll have a world of home gardeners and farmers."

For more information on Rent-a-Farmer:
Trevor Johnson at (248) 894-4059


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