Matthew Grafton-The Hands that Feed You
Posted by denisegoitia | Filed under The Hands that Feed You
The Hands That Feed You
Matthew Grafton with just-cleaned dishes
Matthew Grafton grew up in Ohio and moved to the west coast when he was 21 years old. At that same time he became a vegan and began learning how to grow food himself. After working on a farm in the Klamath region and another in Sacramento, he made his way to the Bay Area to explore cooperative living and urban farming. Here he lives in a shared house where he tends a garden of raised beds, growing carrots, greens, and lettuces.
Matthew manages a field crew for The Watershed Nursery, which provides native plants to parks and other landscapes throughout the Bay Area. As part of that job, he goes into areas where invasive species such as English ivy, poison hemlock, wild radish, and star thistle have exploited disturbed areas and seeded themselves. He and the crew remove these opportunists and replace them with native plants such as coffeeberry, coyote brush, sagebrush, buckeyes, and blue elderberry. He also plants lots of native oaks, both from acorns and from baby tree starts.
Doing this work has made him less idealistic and more accepting about how landscapes evolve and change over time. He says that restorative landscaping can feel like a losing battle sometimes, and he wishes it felt more “natural” and less artificial. Nevertheless, he feels a lot of satisfaction visiting a landscape where he has worked and seeing how the plants have grown.
One day a week he washes dishes at Three Stone Hearth, which draws on the skills he gained studying Martial Arts – how to do something physical in an elegant way.
Matthew dreams of co-owning a farm someday with friends and being able to grow his own food – something he finds profoundly satisfying. He’s not sure whether he’d rather farm in Northern California, where the climate is so friendly and the market is strong, or back in Ohio where his family is. One day he’ll figure that out. For the moment, he is deepening his knowledge of planting, tending, and harvesting, while experiencing the joys-and challenges-of living in a community.