Steven Bailey, who founded one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Texas before relocating to Williamson County, is now leading Homestead’s agricultural operations as our farm director. With nearly a decade of experience with urban farming and restaurant consulting, Steven is working closely with the Harvest kitchen to help further elevate future menus, and drive us closer to becoming a completely sustainable movement.
To get to know him better, we put together a quick Q&A for Steven that shows off his contagious energy & quick personality. It’s time to meet your farmer………
NAME Steven Bailey.
HOMETOWN First half of my life all over the world. Second half in Dallas, Texas.
FAVORITE FOOD? Kimchi.
FAVORITE THING TO GROW? Heirloom tomatoes.
FAVORITE BAND/SONG? Psy. JK, thats just my token shout out to K-Pop.
FAVORITE FARMING TOOL? The Ho-Mi or Korean Hand Plow. Do you feel the Korean Farmer theme developing?
WHAT’S YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF BEING IN THE KITCHEN? It’s me as a little boy in South Korea with my mom and Halmani (Korean grandmother). All the Korean ladies would gather around and spend an entire day making Kimchi. The smell, the time commitment, the community. Loved it.
YOU CALLED YOURSELF A SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR. WHY? When I graduated from Baylor University in ’01 I started a company focused on consulting with International Missions. Following, I started a fair-wage coffee company. Then a Holistic Training Studio, which birthed my personal chef business, which in turn launched Urban Acres. Urban Acres was my crowning achievement. Somewhere in the middle of that, I started Forager Foods–a passion project that died as quickly as it grew. I came to Middle Tennessee to start my own farm, and on that path I found the fork in the road to Homestead Manor.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A FARMER? Joel Salatin. He is not only my idol but also probably the inspiration to thousands of sustainable farmers all over the world.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE FARM-TO-FORK MOVEMENT? The last seven years of my life has been dedicated to bringing local sustainable foods to Dallas. We started one of the largest CSAs in Texas and also had the first true urban farm, only three minutes from downtown Dallas… raising chickens, rabbits, bees and fish.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT? Fermentation.
WHAT ARE YOU INSPIRED BY? Those people in this world that take others who are “less than” and make them feel “more than.” Everything I get behind in my life are things with greater purpose than these tiny little bubbles we get trapped in.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO HOMESTEAD’S KITCHEN/CHEFS. I love them and love what we are all trying to do. Being on the same property has created a relationship that is almost interwoven. If I see wild onions near the tree line the first thought is: “this is so slammin awesome.” The second thought is: I need to get this to the kitchen and see what they can do.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO WORK AT HOMESTEAD? Andy and Claire casted a clear vision that they wanted to be a farm that pastured animals, aquaponics, organic produce and more. To be a part of something that wants to go this big–and educate Middle Tennessee on where our food comes from–is something I can get behind.
WHAT DO YOU BRING TO THE TABLE (pun intended)? A very big appetite. (pun returned)
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT AT HARVEST FOR SPRING/SUMMER? I’m most excited to start the chicken program. We want to build a chicken tractor out of all reclaimed materials and then start producing eggs for the kitchen–and also to sell at our seasonal farmer’s market at Homestead. There is a very powerful connection when families can come see the ladies, gather eggs for the first time, and understand how this is the connection to their plate.
WILL THERE BE ANY UPCOMING CHANGES AT HARVEST THAT PEOPLE CAN EXPECT? Rolling out a big-time menu in the spring that is focused on true farm-to-table themes. We are going to have something fermented, something pickled, some house-made cheese and sausage. Stay tuned because the roller coaster ride is about to get fun!
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT SOMEONE WOULDN’T EXPECT. I think at first glance most people wouldn’t know I’m half Korean. My father (from small little Southern town in North Carolina) met my mother while stationed outside of Seoul (where they live now). And so all of my life has had strong Asian influences. We take off our shoes at our home, I ferment everything I can get my hands on, and my comfort foods fall into a crazy fusion of Brunswick stew with a pot of sticky rice and spicy fermented radish. Interesting? Not sure. But it’s for sure something people wouldn’t expect.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR ASPIRING FARMERS? Take action. Start small but take action. If you really want to farm then start by volunteering on a farm, getting a job on a farm or even leasing a small plot of land from a neighbor and getting after it. Urban farming can be done on just a tiny area in your backyard. The farm-to-table movement has been awesome but it has also romanticized what we do to the point where everyone wants to do it — but when it’s time to weed for seven hours and it’s hot outside, people bail out. The only way to really know if you want to do it is get going and start something small.
MORE ABOUT STEVEN: In 2009, Steven launched Dallas-based Urban Acres, creating a CSA model over the next seven years that fed 2,400 families at its height and provided a model to connect farms across the state to meet demand needs. The effort led to a successful urban farm that helped incubate brand-new farmers, and worked with as many as 40 farmers and artisans each month. He has also moonlighted as a private chef for exclusive clients, utilizing his passion for locally grown food.
Steven’s varied experiences will lend to his unique role as farm director, where he is charged with overseeing 10-plus acres of land and a greenhouse; playing a heavy hand in restaurant menu creation; running Homestead’s seasonal farmer’s market; and forming partnerships with neighboring farms and artisans.
He also hopes to bring animals to Homestead in the near future. We can’t wait to see how he transforms our farm!