Brett Evans ’13, co-owner of Piedmont Biofarm in Pittsboro, gave a talk titled “From Liberal Arts to Local Agriculture: a Young Farmer’s Views on Food.”
The Global Neighborhood Association hosted its final house dinner of the academic year on Tuesday, April 5. There was a strong turnout of students, faculty and staff to hear Elon alumnus Brett Evans talk about his journey from religious studies major to sustainable farmer.
While Evans was at Elon, he was interested in food. In his religious studies classes, he began thinking about food and ethics and studied Jainism, an Indian religion that advocates non-violence to all living beings. Evans began working with English professor Andy Angyal at his farm and became active with the Elon community garden. He still considered farming just a hobby and was preparing for graduate school when his plans fell through. He went to work at a farm in Pittsboro while he considered his options, and ended up buying the farm (literally!)
Piedmont Biofarm is a sustainable farm that follows many organic practices. Evans talked about the environmentally friendly choices he has made, such as the decision not to use chemical sprays and the passive solar greenhouses where he grows winter crops. He is committed to regionality and diversity in food, stressing that “food should not taste the same from town to town, let alone state to state or country to country.” Evans spoke about how he markets his business through his participation in the Durham farmers’ market, connections with local restaurants, and farm-to-table dinners for the community. He also spoke about the economic and demographic challenges that the farming industry faces.
Evans’ talk prompted many questions from his audience. Several questions dealt with the details of his farm business and issues about farming and food that the Global Neighborhood has been considering all year. When asked whether he wished he had taken more business classes while at Elon, Evans replied, “The value of my liberal arts degree was that it gave me the time to figure out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.” Then attendees at each table discussed the question, “How connected to your food do you need to be?” and were able to synthesize much of the information from other GNA speakers and films.
At the end of the evening, the Global Neighborhood announced its new theme for 2016-17: “Art without Borders.” Speakers and films will investigate how art represents and comments on societies and how artistic practice can cross borders. Next year, the Global Neighborhood Association will kick off its House Dinners on Tuesday September 6. So be on the look-out for great programs!