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Monday, January 18, 2016

Fullness Farm, Uprooted

by Sydney Blanchard

Each month, our Uprooted series will highlight local chefs, restaurants, organizations, and farmers who are spearheading the farm-to-table and local foodways movements in South Louisiana.

An often unmentioned but important catalyst of the farm-to-table movement is what you might call a Walden-esque fantasy of escapism. Thoreau’s famous escape to Walden Pond at the end of the 19th century represents the fear and anxiety of a world reacting to the growing pains of the Industrial Revolution.

More than a century and a half has passed since the original publishing of Walden, and now more than ever before, technology sprints ahead of us at breakneck speeds. And, in theory, it breeds in us all the desire to return to our roots to escape it all. It’s sort of a romanticism of nature, a romanticism of the primal.

For most of us, this Walden Pond fantasy will never be more than that, just a fleeting daydream while stuck in traffic or on hold with the internet service provider.

For others, like Allison and Grant Guidroz, they made their dreams a reality.

These Baton Rouge natives started Fullness Organic Farm within the last year, and they’ve been able to turn their little half-acre of greens into a lucrative income stream. 

fullness organic farm greens
Look at these gorgeous leafy greens out at Fullness Farm off of Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge

Both Allison and Grant graduated from LSU in 2011 with degrees in psychology and agricultural business, respectively. After college, the couple began working with Slow Food Baton Rouge and Americorps, through which they were able to to live and work on Inglewood Farms in Alexandria, Louisiana, and another farm in Arkansas, learning what it takes to run an organic farm.

allison and grant
Allison and Grant Guidroz, owners of Fullness Farm, are proud of their carrot babies

“We looked at it kind of like getting our graduate degree [in organic farming],” Allison said.

Before finding his calling in organic farming, Grant had briefly majored in finance in college.

“I figured I wanted to make a lot of money and not work hard, and I thought that would make me happy,” he said. “But it turns out, maybe working really hard and not making a lot of money but doing something that I love is what will make me happy.”

Allison and Grant are the picture of happiness. They live in what used to be a caretaker’s house on their land. The house, built in the 1940s, had been abandoned and was covered in mold, but the couple remodeled it, and their cozy little cottage acts as Fullness Farm headquarters for the Guidrozes and their dog, Tippy Toes.

Allison and Grant’s half-acre of land bears gorgeous greens. They mainly focus on growing baby greens, but they also grow spinach, three kinds of kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, arugula, French sorrel, broccoli, carrots and more.

Generally, they harvest and deliver to local restaurants on Fridays and sell the rest of their product at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.

The only organic growers at the market, the Guidrozes decided to do make Fullness Farm their full-time gig after their first go at the farmer’s market.

For Grant, it’s not about producing huge volumes of produce. A huge motivator is producing the best tasting, most nutrient rich foods possible. 

According to research conducted over the last 15 years, certain plant species have been found to contain more phytonutrients than others. Phytonutrients are compounds linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.

For example, a Peruvian purple potato has 28 times the cancer-fighting benefits than russet potatoes. One species of apple has 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious variety found at most grocery stores.

“I want to grow seriously good food,” he said.

Tri-color carrots at Fullness Farm

For Allison, it’s the same.

“We like to eat good stuff,” she said. “That was a big thing for me.”

Their return to Baton Rouge was no accident. The Guidrozes wanted to come home to utilize their resources, and say that the little strip of land off of Nicholson they dubbed Fullness Farm wouldn’t have been possible without their local connections.

“We really knew we wanted to be back home, doing it here, growing it for our friends and family,” Allison said. “I grew up with my parents cooking. I like to cook, and I really like good food. And man, this food tastes awesome.”

To try some of the awesome-tasting food coming out of Fullness Farm, look for them at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or grab some of their green goodies from Indie Plate.