Farmer Spotlight: Chris Melancon, Retired Army Ranger Finds His Passion on the Farm

From foodtank.com, by Maggie Roth
Farmer Spotlight: Chris Melancon, Retired Army Ranger Finds His Passion on the Farm

Hello, my name is Chris Melancon. I’m 48 years old.

I’ve been farming for one year.

I grow vegetables, cereal rye, and honey at my farm in Sonoma, California.

Sustainable farming practices are important to me because they are the only responsible way to farm.

My favorite thing about being a farmer is the connection with the earth, insects, plants, and animals.

My farmer idol or superhero is my 81 year old uncle and mentor because he has dedicated his professional life to helping migrant farm workers thrive through social programs and advocacy.

My favorite song to listen to on the farm is “Ramble On,” by Led Zeppelin.

When I’m not farming I like to swim, bike, run, hike, kayak, travel, cook, and be a good Uncle.

My favorite thing to grow is beets.

My favorite thing to eat is fresh grilled fish.

If I could change one thing about the food system it would be the public’s awareness of their food’s origin.

Something you don’t know about me is I started my career as an Airborne Ranger in the U.S. Army.

If I could tell the world one thing about what being a farmer is like it would be the enormous satisfaction that comes from an exhausting long day of working with the land and animals.

I am reducing post-harvest losses by growing mostly vegetables and managing demand for and production of grain very closely.

I conserve water on my farm by using mostly drip irrigation and timing watering for early and late in the day.

Climate change is affecting my farm through severe drought in California.

One thing I’m doing to protect the environment on my farm is managing local honeybee hives, planting native wildflowers, and employing solar energy.

I think we need more young people involved in farming because they naturally love animals and dirt and can carry on a tradition of environmental stewardship.

One thing I’m doing to create healthy soil on my farm is moving earth into strategic locations to direct water run off.

The most difficult thing about sustainable farming is maintaining a financially sustainable operation.

I did not always know I would be a farmer. I chose the agricultural life because I am most happy and fulfilled when working with the earth and animals.

Others in my family are involved in farming or agriculture. Those who are involved in agriculture work as partners on a small homestead outside of Sonoma and care for animals and vegetables gardens.

 The following resources, programs, or organizations are most valuable to my farm: http://ecoeader.org.