Well, firstly, Any fan of Thomas Jefferson must also be a fan of Ben Franklin, right? I have always loved this quote. It means a lot to us here at Mezzacello. There is no shame in admitting that setting out to change the world through action and example is not going to happen over-night. It takes a lot of energy, time and money to transform a dead, vacant plot of land in the middle of a thriving downtown metropolis into a sustainable, vibrant ecosystem. It’s not easy and it’s not cheap. But it is worth it. When we started Mezzacello, we had nothing; no tools, no savings (that went into the house downpayment) no knowledge, no seeds, no animals, no gardens. It all had to be built. But we had dreams. Dreams require action to become real. We started small and grew.
I firmly believe that if we would have had the money to have it done for us, we would never had done it. Why would we? Human nature being what it is, we would have taken the easy road and just bought a farm. But that’s the interesting thing — We didn’t know we wanted a farm. We didn’t know we wanted a gorgeous formal garden. We were two people in love who wanted to live in Columbus’ Olde Towne East neighborhood who saw a vacant piece of land and a grand old house and said, “yes!”. Collectively, that’s what we knew in 2013. Our dreams were our own things though. One of us said, “that empty land would make a terrific Virginia plantation style garden.” and the other said, “That empty land would make a great test garden to experiment with food and ag resources.” We both started planning and building towards those different goals. With little money and little experience in terms of the urban ag component zero experience in farming. We knew we wanted something to happen.
Like most couples, we had a lack of communication that could have ended badly. But having no money ended up saving our collective dreams. We had love, passion, and a hard work ethic. Sometimes that’s enough. The remarkable thing is that those two things turned out to be completely compatible. The formal gardens needed fertilizer and water. The farm needed the compost, biomass, and protection provided by the formal gardens. Both ecosystems needed the food and resources from the humans in the house to thrive. As each dream grew into a complete ecosystem, the whole grew stronger. It wasn’t always pretty and it was never easy. But it has been fun. We knew what we wanted, and when we finally did collaborate, we had a pretty good idea. Three years in and the ecosystem is humming along. There have been losses, setbacks, and disappointments. That is true about life in general. What you do with the losses, setbacks and disappointment is what defines you. How you master them and mix them with the joy, surprises, and wins makes you stronger. These are the lessons that still ring true in the Twenty-First Century from the pages of Poor Richard’s Almanac. So the de facto motto of Mezzacello remains. Poor Boys Have Poor Ways. But the life we have at Mezzacello enriches us in ways that money never could.