Downtown Market column: Sotos take their lifelong dream to market
When you Google something like “this day in history,” it is a great reminder of the human potential. Both inspiring and disturbing, but it can be incredibly motivating to read about the events that happened.
On this day in history, there were some very terrible events, but it is also the day, in 1963, when a young man stood and delivered the incredibly iconic and hugely inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech. If you were alive then, maybe, just maybe, you had the chance to actually meet him or hear the speech firsthand, but on this day 55 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a nation.
He had inspired so many before this day and he continued after this day, but this day and this speech went down in all the history books.
It makes me wonder, what am I capable of, what is everyone around me capable of. Many great, diverse, and beautiful things.
Our hopes and dreams motivate us. Erik and Jeanmary Soto are the proud owners of a dream that is still in its infancy, officially opened in late June of this year, but fueled by love and passion, Sahay Farm.
Maybe it will not make it to the history books, but it is their dream that they are living and pursuing today, which is still so inspiring to me. Erik has always dreamed of having a farm; actually, his initial plan was to be a chef. Thankfully, his grandfather taught him a lot about gardening, and when he was struggling to find a culinary school to go to he decided to switch and study agriculture. After all, the two are related.
Both Erik and Jeanmary are from Puerto Rico and volunteered in Ethiopia when they joined the Peace Corps. There they really leveraged Erik’s knowledge of agriculture, and Jeanmary’s nursing skills, to set up gardens in schools and many other places to help all get good access to nutrients.
The Peace Corps work focused on perma-gardens, which, Erik explained, is similar to permaculture in that what they built is structured to thrive in Ethiopia and most efficiently leverage space and water.
When they returned home, they knew they wanted to keep gardening and providing good nutrients to people, so they found a home large enough it could accommodate a greenhouse and chicken coop, and got started. They are selling micro-greens and happy chicken eggs. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not personally talk to the chickens to ask about their emotional state, but from the conversation with Erik and Jeanmary it seems like these chickens are very happy; after all, they get leftover, homegrown microgreens.
Erik and Jeanmary are keeping more than busy these days with 9-month-old Jyrek, Erik working on his masters degree, getting a new business up and going, and doing some part-time work until the business takes off. You would never know, though, that they are doing all of that when you talk with them; they are some of the most genuinely happy, grateful people I have gotten the pleasure to meet, and it may just be because they are following their dream.
So we invite you to stop on by our little four-hour corner of the world today, say hello to Erik, Jeanmary and Jyrek from Sahay Farm where you may just learn a little bit about microgreens, their nutritional value, the research going into them, and what Sahay means in Amharic.
After that, as with every Tuesday from 4-8 pm, we invite you to answer the call of the shaded park, perhaps with some hot tamales or Greek food, and enjoy the wonderful melodies of Bryan Savage. Do not forget we continue to double up WIC Farm Bucks and EBT. We look forward to seeing you there.
Julie Larson writes a weekly column during market season on behalf of the Glenwood Downtown Market board of directors.