We had the good fortune of connecting with Ken Sparks from The Farmer Ken and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ken, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from a suburban city in Northeastern Ohio called Twinsburg. My garden/farm journey started at age 5 with my Grandmother and Great-Grandmother. I continued exploring and incorporating gardens in Undergraduate and Graduate school. I have implemented community gardens and have been able to help under-resourced communities and families in Ohio, Illinois and now Los Angeles.
Here in Los Angeles, I continued my work directly in communities. I helped revitalize a community garden in Watts and provided resources for several gardens across Los Angeles. I also secured partnerships to provide healthy cooking and fitness opportunities for youth and families.
When I purchased my first home in LA, I was finally able to reconnect with gardening in a deeper way. After the passing of my Grandmother from a long battle with cancer, my passion reignited stronger than ever before. Gardening is therapeutic to me. This served as the catalyst to launch my company, The Farmer Ken. My farm features two vegetable gardens, herbs, a patio pond garden, nature garden , and food forest filled with fruit trees herbs, and veggies. I also own my own chickens.
During the pandemic, It has become even more apparent to many that gardening essential. My company can help you successfully grow food in your own backyard and community. I provide garden consultation, installation & education . I also provide fresh produce through my edible farm via Farmer’s markets and my Etsy shop. Some of my features include LA Times, ABC7 News, Modern Farmer Magazine, Voyage LA, & the San Diego Tribune.
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets me apart is my diverse background and my combination of experience and education. I was raised in Ohio and started my foundation when I was young.I started my own garden plot when I was in Middle School and had one every year until I left for college.
While at The Ohio State University, I was a recipient of a USDA Scholarship. I was active in The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and served as President of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences). One summer, I worked with a Natural Landscape Specialist at The Cleveland Metroparks. We’d select plants and build garden plots throughout the 18 reservations in Metroparks. This gave me insight on creative ways to untilize plants and incorprate them into various surroundings. As one of my humanities projects, I took the initiative on starting a community Garden in an under-resourced neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio. I was elated by the impact that the garden had on the community and I wanted to continue having a greater impact with more communities. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Major in African-American Studies, Minor in Music and Minor in Natural Resources.
Shortly after graduation, I started my new journey in Chicago. I worked for Non-Profits and Governmental Agencies providing Education and Enrichment programs for youth, families and the greater community. While in my Graduate Program at The University of Illinois at Chicago, I continued my work in under-resourced communities. At one of my sites in Englewood, I secured a major grant to build a school community garden. I took a holistic approach, incorporating gardening, healthy cooking, fitness and nutrition while providing the experience and skills for those to start their own home gardens.
Upon completion of Master of Education program, I relocated to Los Angeles. Here in Los Angeles, I continued my work directly in communities. I helped revitalize a community garden in Watts and provided resources for several gardens across Los Angeles. I also secured partnerships to provide healthy cooking and fitness opportunities for youth and families.
I am most proud of my journey and all the experiences and memories that have helped bring me to where I am at today. I have learned to be true to yourself, know your self worth, and tap into your unique talents and gifts. Find a way to incoprate what you enjoy doing into your work, and if it’s not enjoyable.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a laid back person and enjoy the simplistic things in life. I also love the outdoors. I’d suggest a beachside restaurant off the ocean for a nice sunset dinner, a brisk morning hike along some of my favorite trails, and maybe some shopping at the boutique shops that are exclsuive to the area. We’d also visit some of the local wineries. Some of my favorite outdoor thrill adventures include zip-lining and ATV riding.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a special ShoutOut to Pamela Thomas and The Ohio State University Chapter of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources & Related Sciences)
Sylverliningmedia, The Farmer Ken