Columbia Daily Tribune (Columbia, Missouri) | By Marcia Vanderlip | March 27, 2012
Leslie Touzeau, left, and Liberty Hunter look over seed packets Thursday at The Salad Garden.
A couple of years ago, Dan Kuebler was approaching 60 and feeling the effects of 20 years of farming in Ashland on a small farm known as The Salad Garden. Growing organic vegetables involved hands-on planting, cultivating, insect and deer control, and constant weeding, which he calls "the bane of the organic farmer."
In 1990, he decided to begin farming on 1½ acres of the 30 acres of land he bought in 1977. It was situated on a picturesque hill above a pond. The next year, Kuebler began selling his produce at the Columbia Farmers Market and later served on the market's board for nine years. Kuebler tended the plot daily and also worked as a physical therapist three days a week. "I came home from work and worked until dark and beyond. When you are younger, you can do that," he said last Tuesday.
At 61, he says he is ready to retire. Even so, he isn't resting that much. He spent Monday of last week with a chain saw, taking down cedar trees that were shading some of his garden.
Still, since last year, his role on the farm has changed a bit. He still cuts the grass and helps with farm maintenance — such as putting up the new deer fence — but the day-to-day managing, planning, planting and cultivating, as well as the organic certification work, website marketing and the weeding is handled by his partners, Leslie Touzeau, 26, and Liberty Hunter, 24. Last season, the pair became the fresh new faces at The Salad Garden's stall at the Columbia Farmers Market, offering an array of garden goods, from celeriac and plump fennel bulb to salad mix. They enjoyed a plentiful season, though, like a lot of farmers around here, they had to contend with voles, deer and insects. Last week, the pair tended to seedlings, planted seed ahead of the rain and prepared for the first outdoor market of the year, which took place Saturday. Read more about Two young farmers breathe new life into retiring farmer's organic farm