The phrase “farm to table” resonates with many of us these days, and for Jason Von Kundra, BS Earth Science ’12, it’s more than criteria for picking a restaurant—it’s a livelihood.
Von Kundra lives and works at Harvest Table Farm in Meadowview, Virginia, supplying food year-round for nearby Harvest Table Restaurant. He takes care of chickens, sheep, and cattle, handles harvesting and preserving, and oversees greenhouse work at the small but busy 3.6-acre farm, which bustles with volunteers, interns, and apprentices during growing seasons. Whatever produce, eggs, meats, canned goods, dehydrated fruits, and fermented foods the restaurant doesn’t use is sold at area farmers markets.
Previously, Von Kundra was a farmer at Laughing Water Farm and garden coordinator for Sprouting Hope community food garden, also in rural Southwest Virginia. At peak times, he’s worked 12-hour days six days a week, but asserts he feels “rewarded in my job every day when I put a seed in the ground.”
While at Mason, Von Kundra took part in campus organizations such as the Environmental Action Group, Mason DREAMers, Feminist Student Organization, Student Government, and TQ Mason. The social and environmental issues he was involved in, he says, exposed him to “struggles of poverty, immigration, environmental justice, racism, and more. I saw food at the crux of so much political, social, and economic injustice.”
While his courses may not have taught him day-to-day duties of how to trellis hundreds of tomato plants on a budget, or design biological controls against the bean beetle, Mason gave him something more valuable, he says: “an analysis of the world’s most pressing issues, innovative problem-solving skills, and the confidence to take on the challenge.
“Mason taught me something I don’t think I would have gained from an agricultural program at any other university. I learned the importance of having a vision for the world you want and how to create systemic change to get there.”