Mark returns to the farm after spending his last two years studying the cultural history of orca whales in Vancouver, BC. Before that, Mark studied environmental history and philosophy at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Mark's gardening roots run deep with a childhood spent in the gardens of his parents and visiting the farms of his grandparents. Even though his background is in the liberal arts, like his three older brothers, Mark is a 4-H kid at heart.
Gardening heroes: Rudolph Steiner, Richo Cech, Vandana Shiva, Harvey Washington Wiley, Johnny Appleseed
Favorite plants: heirloom tomatoes, wild raspberries, kale, angelica, holy basil, weeping willow
Favorite books: The Lost Language of Plants (Stephen Harrod Buhner), The Spell of the Sensuous (David Abrams), PrairyErth (William Least Heat Moon), Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Annie Dillard), What are People For? (Wendell Berry), The New and Selected Poems of Stephen Dunn
A carpenter and mason by day, a winemaker and herbalist by night, Matt has always had a passion for gardening and plants. His daughter Elizabeth named the farm, and his contruction skills made it a reality. Matt is also a skilled furniture maker and an avid agate hunter.
Gardening heroes: Eliot Coleman, Joel Salatin, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Bruce Lee
Favorite plants: damiana, skullcap, elderberry, sassafras, and melons of all shapes, sizes and colors
Favorite books: Tao Te Ching (Lao Tsu), Melons for the Passionate Grower (Amy Goldman), Sacred and Healing Herbal Brews (Stephen Harrod Buhner), Plants of the Black Hills (Gary Larson) and the Foxfire books
Brett is an ecologist who studies trees, rivers, and wetlands, and a college professor who studies food, sustainability, and communication. A graduate from St. Olaf College, Brett recently finished his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has taught Environmental Studies at Centre College in Kentucky for the last two years while simultaneously conducting research on prairie wetland ecology under various climate change scenarios. Brett now returns to South Dakota for a postdoctoral research position in ecology, which also brings him closer to the farm.
Gardening heroes: Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, N.E. Hansen, the bumble bee
Favorite plants: cottonwoods, heirloom tomatoes, prairie grasses
Favorite books: The Pine Island Paradox (Kathleen Dean Moore), Hunting for Hope (Scott Russell Sanders), Becoming Native to This Place (Wes Jackson), The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
Wyatt is a specialist in technical design and theater. He currently works full time in Las Vegas but still finds time to design equipment for the farm. Right now Wyatt is working for the Phantom of the Opera and Lion King shows but still makes it back to the farm for planting, hunting, and especially fishing.
Thunder (not pictured) is the farm horse. He can be shy but don't doubt his power.
Hal and LeAnn have four sons, and together they all make up Muddy Pumpkin Farms. Hal grew up just down the hill from the farm, and his parents raised Hereford Beef Cattle on the property after the Pick-Sloan dams inundated their land in what's now the Missouri River reservoir. Hal is a retired Extension Specialist in Irrigation, and LeAnn continues to teach math at South Dakota State University. Both Hal and LeAnn have been gardening as long as they can remember, and their inclusion of their sons in the family garden as children probably had something to do with their sons' pursuit of gardening as a family business.