Fresh from the garden: Kindred Roots Farm employee Loriann Goodier (above) picks green peppers for customers on Wednesday. Kindred Roots Farm owner Josh Mason (top) stands next to rows of beans at the business on Wednesday. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza
Fresh from the garden: Kindred Roots Farm employee Loriann Goodier (above) picks green peppers for customers on Wednesday. Kindred Roots Farm owner Josh Mason (top) stands next to rows of beans at the business on Wednesday. Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza
Josh Mason has worked for tech corporations and managed a homeless shelter. He has organically farmed 50 acres in South Africa though he was told it wasn’t possible — he created Crop Armor, an organic pesticide, and proved it was indeed possible.

Now, Mason and his family — wife Mindy and children Christian, Gracelyn and Josiah — have purchased the Pickery from former owner Laurie Elliott and rechristened it Kindred Roots Farm.

Mason spent most of his life in Boise, Idaho, and moved to Terre Haute during height of the pandemic in May 2020. As a family of faith, he said, “We felt led here — don’t know why, never heard of it before — and we just went on an adventure.”

Since his parents were essentially master gardeners, he’s been around plants all his life, but the first time he really farmed was in South Africa. “There’s a transition between gardening and farming in the vegetable world and some people don’t make that transition very well,” he said.

“We moved there and I knew that I wanted to either provide produce for people in need or show people how to grow their own food,” Mason recalled. “We started to grow on a small scale at first and all the farmers there said, ‘No, you can’t do that organically here — there’s too many bugs and too much fungus. So I, being stubborn, said, ‘I’m going to do it anyway,’ and found out that there are too many bugs and a lot of fungus.”

Crop Armor saved the day. “I struggled through the difficulty of that, and eventually found ways to grow things that people love,” he said. “That sparked a challenge in me to find ways to grow in difficult climates.”

Terre Haute hardly qualifies as a “difficult climate” — in addition to the former Pickery, on which he finalized the deal in June, Mason has another farm south of town — so he’s established other goals. “Our goal is to bring the most nutritionally dense food to the Wabash Valley,” he said. “We want to make sure that when people come to the farm, they feel like family.”

Which is why “Kindred” is part of the farm’s name. When Mason and his wife were in the corporate world, “I was gone a lot and missed kids’ activities and things I didn’t want to miss,” he said. “So we had a lifestyle shift, and now, family is the center of our world.”

Kindred Roots is currently growing about 50 vegetables organically, from kale to squash to asparagus, as well as blueberries, peaches, apples and pears. Unlike the Pickery, the farm is not a you-pick, but offers bounties picked daily at its farm stand. Mason plans to build greenhouses so he can farm year-round, as well as a brick-and-mortar storefront building, so people will be able to get fresh vegetables even in winter, as well as local items from other vendors, such as homemade goods, jams and jellies.

“Look, for us not just in the summer, but throughout the year,” Mason said.

At Saturday’s farmer’s market at the Meadows, Kindred Roots has assumed the Pickery’s old spot, and plans to attend other pop-up markets. Mason plans to sponsor family events at the farm, including a fall veggie gardening class beginning in late August to teach people how to grow all the way up to frost time. Kindred Roots Farm Stand accepts WIC and senior vouchers.

Though he may not have ever heard of Terre Haute before he moved here, Mason and his family have settled in quite comfortably.

“People make fun of Terre Haute and I understand,” he said, “but most of those people haven’t traveled very much — they haven’t seen other parts of the world and don’t understand that this life is pretty good here.”

Kindred Roots Farm is at 3279 E. Margaret Dr.
© 2022 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.