Renaissance Man Becomes Farmer

If you know James Edwards, you know that he is, by definition, a renaissance man. A classically trained singer and musician; a chef who has designed, built, owned, and operated his own restaurant; a  carpenter extraordinaire; and most recently, Principal Farmer at Raleigh City Farm. James has been involved with RCF for many years - and in various capacities - but his interest in growing diversified vegetables on the 1/3 acre plot of land he rents from RCF has only deepened, and much to the benefit of our collective tastebuds.

James is relatively new to farming but you may not guess that looking out at the prolific beds he has built up over the past year. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in diligence and meticulous attention to detail. It behooves him to be extremely efficient and savvy due to the small size of the land. He produces sustainably grown crops for chefs and restaurants in downtown Raleigh and community members who frequent his Farm Stand each Saturday from 9 a.m. - 12 noon. He must factor in all the variables and limitations of a small footprint, predicting what will be appealing to the market and weighing that against the return on investment of what he grows to be sure it's a viable business model. It's not an easy task.

"It’s a daily battle with the weather and the weeds, to be won with dedication and perseverance," says James.

But, he finds that it gives him a sense of purpose and he is able to provide consistent, meaningful work for his two employees, Juan & Cason.

James already has big plans for next year and he is excited to take what he has learned so far and apply it to his growing experience as a farmer. He acknowledges what a gift it is to learn, and be sufficiently humbled (again and again) by the arduous but rewarding work of growing food using responsible growing methods.

When you give to RCF's year-end giving campaign, you are ensuring that new farm entrepreneurs like James are given opportunities to experiment and learn their trade before heading off to launch even bigger and brighter things for Raleigh.

It's an investment in our local food system and in a more sustainable, healthy food system for generations to come.


Photographer: Juli Leonard