At just 26, Cory Walker is a leading farmer in the Southern Vermont local foods movement.
Cory Walker began his love affair with farming over a decade ago when he began working as a field hand on an organic farm on Martha's Vineyard when he was just 15. By the time he turned 18, he was managing the farm.
During the years he worked on the Vineyard farm, the Community Supported Agriculture part of it - where people buy a weekly ration of vegetables supplied by the farmer - grew from 30 to 350 members, and the acres under cultivation quadrupled from 20 to 80.
Walker attended the Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Amherst, MA, but says that his experience farming is what has taught him the most.
When asked what would draw a young man into the often difficult world of agriculture, Walker has a ready answer.
"I love working for myself, and I love being outside," Walker said. "I love producing good food and sharing it with my friends and family.'
He came to Vermont and created Guerrilla Grown Produce three years ago, leaving Massachusetts to be with his partner Adreana Porteur. She operates the Downstreet Cafe on Canal Street in Bellows Falls, which specializes in locally grown foods, much of it from Walker.
At this point in his move to Vermont, Walker has 4.5 acres under organic cultivation at two spots in Westminster, most notably at Hope Roots Farm on Route 5. His speciality is leafy green and baby green salad mixes, but also a lot of what he refers to as "simple harvest" crops like cabbage, potatoes, squash, melons and cucumbers.
The produce is supplied to several area restaurants such as the Weathersfield Inn, Burdick's in Walpole, NH, and Harvest Moon Caterers in Saxtons River, as well as at co-ops in the area, Walpole Grocers and farmer's markets in Townshend Thursdays, Bellows Falls on Fridays and in Brattleboro on Saturdays. He also has a local CSA and supplies greens for one in the Bedford Styvesant section of New York City.
"We're focusing on community agriculture," Walker said. "It's saving the world."
Not bad for a young man who said he started in farming by "tilling up people's unused backyards."