John:

I grew up on a farm in Schuyler County, Illinois, 100 miles due east of Rutledge, Missouri. One of seven children, I was the middle child, and had three brothers and three sisters. It was a small farm by today’s standards, but not a bad spread in the sixties. We raised lots of corn and hogs, and we kept a few milk cows and a few beef cows; a pretty average farm, I guess.

I was glad to leave the farm and go off to college. Though it took some time, I ended with a master’s degree in biology and worked my way through school working in hospitals in several fields, including dialysis, respiratory therapy, and rehab. In the early ‘80’s I ended up in Texas and stayed there for about 30 years. 

I married Teresa Smetzer in 1989 and we raised three sons. In 1997, we left Texas to run the family farm in Rushville, Illinois. We raised organic field crops for four years and then moved to a corporate organic produce farm. There I had a 13-acre garden, a salary with full benefits, and lots of fancy machinery for growing vegetables. We had about 180 varieties of vegetables, including 10 kinds of lettuce and 12 kinds of tomatoes, and so on. It was a challenge, but I am a gadget guy and really had fun with the planters and weeders available there. But I wasn’t too corporate, so the family and I moved back to Texas, where I went to work for the state of Texas. I regulated landfills, recycling, and composting and then later regulated public drinking water utilities.

My wife and I split up in 2008, with the boys mostly grown. My sons are all three very successful men now, and I was fortunate to farm and be home with them.

In March, 2018, I retired and planned to just live in the woods on the old family place that my sister now owns, which is 20 acres of woods.

I decided that April to do a visitor session at Dancing Rabbit ecovillage (my wife, the kids and I had visited in the year 2000 and I had gotten the newsletter from DR over the years). I had an enjoyable time with the community that week and  in May, 2018 started as a work exchange intern at Ben and Mae’s Critter Farm. This kept me at Dancing Rabbit for the growing season and I had a wonderful time, especially eating meals with the wonderful crew at the Critter kitchen. That summer I moved into Skyhouse, our on-site boarding house. The manager left later that summer and I landed the job of managing Skyhouse, and though I have taken time to go back to Texas, I have managed to keep a position at Skyhouse. 

I became a DR member just last May, 2020, and I am so happy to be a part of this community. I feel quite fortunate to be here and am so thankful for all the wonderful people who live her