I'm excited to share this week's (So)(Co) Sit Down with you! Jason Grauer and I went to high school together and although we had really fun times in high school, I'd say the good times really came during college and post college. It's been extremely inspiring to watch Jason go from a star basketball player in high school to working in the finance world and now to truly be following his passion of farming. Every single time I speak to Jason, I get some nugget of wisdom that help me manage whatever challenge I am facing at that time. If you're not following Jason on Instagram, you should - he posts photos of all of the amazing veggies at Stone Barns as well as his #farmpockets.
JOIN ME ON THIS JOURNEY OF SHARING STORIES AND INSPIRING ONE ANOTHER TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES.
READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JASON GRAUER.
How do you spend your days?
Off the farm, I spend my time working towards promoting and developing PickACarrot.com, a business I co-founded last year. My days are spent speaking with farmers, seed companies, chefs and seed breeders, learning ways in which to improve the discovery, use and purchase of seeds. On the farm, I work at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, where I am the Field Crop Manager and Variety Trial Manager. I realize these may not be common terms, but it means I spend parts of my days managing the vegetable production of about 8 acres of diversified vegetable crops. This includes scheduling our daily field tasks and acting as a liaison to the famed restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, as well as our 132 person CSA and other local restaurants that purchase from us. Within that production schedule, I get to express my passion for experimentation and research related to seeds. We try new vegetable varieties and old ones and connect with seed producers around the world trying to improve the way we eat and think about food and agriculture.
What are three things you are grateful for?
Family (friends because the good ones are family)
Opportunity (because these are the moments to be challenged to grow and change)
Explain your lifestyle in 5 words or less.
Seeking knowledge, growing my own
If you were to attend a potluck dinner, what would you bring?
It always depends on the season, I think it’s incredibly important to highlight the best of what a seasonal moment has to offer whether that’s the sweetness of winter vegetables or the first tastes of spring and nostalgia of the summer. More specifically to this moment, we have been pumping out these delicious eggplant and garlic, so I would cook them both whole on the grill, slice open a little pocket in the eggplant and squeeze in the creamy garlic.
If you could gift everyone you meet with one book, what would it be and why?
Cosmos by Carl Sagan because like we find in life, there is a beautifully poetic narrative wrapped inside an incredibly pragmatic, decipherable mechanistic shell. He cracks the shell and let’s us peer inside our current understanding of the universe. Science history allows us to see where we came from and how we discover where we are going next.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Check the weather, confirm the field schedule for the day, drink water.
If you could change one thing in your daily routine, what would it be? What would it take for you to make that change?
Making more time for yoga and meditation. It would require getting more organized with the goals of my business and the daily tasks of the farm.
What does healthy mean to you?
Balancing everyday physical activity with time for artistic expression or study. Cooking meals at home with good ingredients that I grow or from respectable sources and finding time to eat them slowly. In addition, health includes taking time for lofty projects and time for friends to build excitement and laughter respectively.
Have you ever been face with health concerns that pushed you to change your lifestyle?
I have not been faced with a physical health barrier to change my lifestyle, but mentally, I have reached certain peak levels of stress, frustration and complaint that I would call very unhealthy. Through small steps, volunteering in interesting fields and speaking with as many passionate and interesting people as I could find, I realized that to clear my head and get out of the fog, I needed to change career direction and not settle for simplicity or complacency. The water tastes different at the top of a mountain, but you have to be willing to climb.
What song can immediately change your mood in the best way possible?
Anything by Lettuce
What is one piece of advice someone has given you that shifted your way of thinking?
“Everyone always has something to offer”
What article of clothing/outfit do you feel most empowered wearing?
I really like articles that have strong connection to someone or something. Maybe a hat, all my hats have a pretty good connection. This winter, it was so cold for so long, that my grandma and mom bought me an incredible winter hat that had such vibrant colors and warmth that it just feels like a win every time.
Complete this sentence: "In order to be happy, I need to..."
Be moving towards a work/life goal, using my body and mind to stretch my reality and laughing hard.
What do you have going on in your life that you'd like to share with the (So)(Co) Community?
My good friend and business partner Mark Cerritelli and I launched our website, Pick A Carrot last August and we are getting the word out to all the farmers, home gardeners, chefs, agriculture organizations, food lovers and anyone else looking for seeds.
Jason Grauer is the co-founder of PickACarrot.com, a website built to help farmers and growers of all sizes and competency locate, compare and purchase the best seeds for them. He is also the Field Crop Manager at The Stone Barns Center For Food and Agriculture, where he manages daily responsibilities and schedule for field crop production on 8 acres of diversified vegetable and pasture production. Tied into his production management, he coordinates all the seed experimentation and research with Farm Director, Jack Algiere. As an Economics major from Tufts University, he spent the early portion of his career in the financial industry, eventually being introduced to The Stone Barns Center, where he began a year and half of volunteering that confirmed his desire to dive deeper and work full-time in agriculture. He apprenticed for two seasons in The Stone Barns Center greenhouse and developed a rooftop greenhouse for Eli Zabar’s Vinegar factory. A season learning as an apprentice at Four Season Farm in Maine and the last two seasons getting deeper understanding of plant breeding by supporting organic seed research in Cornell University’s Plant Breeding and Genetics lab, where he also co-developed the lab’s first soil-based greenhouse for four season food production, research and education.
Photo by: Michael Kuehn