My Farm to Table Experiment

Chad Everett Harris, Farm to Table Experiment

Since the age of 10, I have been curious about gardening and how to growth things. I lived on an island outside of Detroit called Grosse Isle. I was fortunate enough to have a large glass greenhouse to experiment growing different plants young age. Funny story, my mom would tell the same story when I was older, ” Chad was growing weeds but he thought they were plants. ” The property had blackberry bushes and apple trees. That is where I learned how to make clobbers and pies. The time on the island inspired to pursue the landscaping as a career. I began a lawn service at the age of 10 and by the age of 18, I was running a landscape business. As I entered college, I realized that wasn’t the place for me and drop all my classes after the first day but to be fair, I didn’t give it a chance either.

After spending nearly 40 years at some capacity in the landscape industry, I finally left it. It was a bittersweet moment, I loved the work, didn’t always love the customers. During those 40 years, I owned a garden center, growing facility, five online retailer stores, lawn mower shop, organic fertilizer business, and about 10 other things. I had several ideas that I executed that were successful but nothing was more successful than my ” Christmas Tree” business.

I really miss the part of being connected to nature until about three weeks ago. My squad, 4 guys and an occasion girl moved into a farmhouse on 10 acres and I thought to myself, I should start a farm to table experience for our household. As my life usually goes, that afternoon, a Burpee Seed Catalog arrived at the house. The property has about six raised planters that they must have used for growing herbs and some vegetables. There is also apples trees, peach trees, blueberry bushes and a few other trees I have not identified yet.

My goal to to grow the right amount of food that offers a fresh alternative rather than buying the food from the only real option, Walmart. I also love when I cook to have color and texture in the meals, that is the creative side of my brain that finds satisfaction in some of the simplest of things.

Kaleidoscope Carrots
Photo Courtesy of Hudson Seed Company

Kaleidoscope Carrots :Trying to trace the origins of the modern orange carrot is like looking through a kaleidoscope. Shapes and colors reflect and refract, and the more time you spend looking, the more they change. The carrot’s geo-genetic story starts with a white and wild bitter root, touched by the sweet yellow sun of the Middle East, growing under purple mountains and bright vermillion sunsets, its seeds passed by thousands of hands of many hues. This prismatic mix reflects the colorful evolution of the carrot. Find them here.

The Year of Chad Everett Harris

2020 will be the Year of Chad Everett Harris. This will be the year that the last 1642 days of work pays off and things get back to my normal chaotic life that I love. This year will be filled with achievement, challenges, and excitement. It will also be a year of living in the country, exploring new opportunities, and working on Chad E. Harris, the person. That sounds funny when I type that but, it is true. I recognize that I need to work on myself, and the time I spend doing that will be more important that anything else I accomplish.

I wasn’t sure what the fuss about the a new year was all about until I realize that we were starting a new decade. Not sure if that even matters in my world. I say that because I have been in a 1642 day battle with life and a series of events that produced some difficult results. I will be the first one to take all responsibly of the results as I was the decision maker for the company that I ran. Yes, the buck literally stops with me. I ran a family owned business that operated in the New Orleans area that closed. The closures was a result of not being able to negotitate a lease extension that snowballed into a magnitude of business issues. I am grateful that this happened, because I would not have had to scrap and fight my way to my current place in life.

I read a note on Facebook that a friend wrote the other day and it has been said before, “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” I am 100% guilty of this practice. Over the last 39 years ( I started my hustle at age 11) I have hit the reset button 3 times. Over the years I have found myself getting distracted and when I get distracted, my focus goes with it. When I lose my focus, I lose my direction and therefore I cause a train wreck in my life,. I have also come to realize that in the past, some of the disasters were self inflected… I like to fix things. Here is the best part, after the last 1652 days, I am done with self inflected disasters, the last one almost cost me everything. I won’t be doing that again, ever. I would also say, you can not buy that kind of education. Today, I work with a group of people that are half my age. I spend a lot of time, providing input to situation that are parallel with the challenges I have experienced that they are facing. Those difficult days that were the results of my distractions provide great real life case studies of how to make the right set of decisions that produce the desired results.

Here is to a new decade, and the third Chad E. Harris reset.

A Day Of Running in the Sun

It has been a long time coming but today, today was an amazing day. My day started out at 1:30 am with the arrival of my youngest son and dogs. I have been waiting for my son to arrive for a few weeks but there were things taking place in Louisiana that did not allow him to move to Texas.

The project that we are currently working on is moving faster than scheduled and our team is beginning to grow. Collectively, our group of friends have been working on this for the last two years and to see it happen in real time is a very rewarding experience.

To watch my two dogs explore their new place. I think that they are pretty excited to find all the new things the country offers over the city. Shadow & George met the donkeys. Shadow took a lap on our Raptor Adventure Course with his four paws flying along at 35 mph. George took a ride along because he would not be able to keep up.

Chad E. Harris, dog Shadow
After a day of playing hard, Shadow is out of the count

Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet Paper Roll

Marketing comes in all types of mediums. Today, I was at one of the mobile phone providers getting a new phone and during the lengthy process, I used the restroom. When I walked in, this was the first thing I saw and honestly, I laughed out loud. I thought to myself, you gotta be kidding me. When I walked into the store, there were two employees just sitting there playing on their phones. I didn’t receive that great of service until we ordered 3 phone and 2 watches, then they quickly picked up the customer service.

Back to the marketing point. It takes very little effort to demonstrate to customers that the staff cares. The bathroom is one of the easiest places to make a great impression. I remember the bathroom at our garden center was kept spotless. We offered iced tea and freshly brewed higher end coffee. We made a point to pay attention to the smallest details and it made a difference.

I don’t understand the issue with the toilet paper roll. Nobody seems to change the them regardless of where you are in the world. One thing is clear, it doesn’t matter if its the mens room or the women room, at home or at work. Not sure how much harder it is to change the roll or just set the toilet paper on top of the roll.

Consider this, if you are the user, everyone has touch that roll at the worse possible time of their bathroom experience. I bet you change it next time.

I Do Miss New Orleans

Chad Everett Harris New Orleans French Quarter Photograph

It’s been three months since Chad Everett Harris left New Orleans. Yep, that’s me, Chad E. Harris. I tend to write in the third person sometimes. It is confusing but it is also better for story telling.

I moved to New Orleans on 1986. I built a business, raised children, and spent several years enjoying the culture of the city. Our family has a home on Plum Street just a few blocks away from the Plum Street Snowball Stand. It has been a wonderful place for our family but lately the city has been overwhelmed with crime that is out of control. It was an easy decision for me to pack up and leave on a Sunday afternoon but my wife and oldest son have stayed behind. My wife has a successful retail store called Relish on Metairie road and my oldest son works for PWC in downtown New Orleans.

Today, I am leaving in Rockdale which is about 60 mins northeast of Austin, Texas. I will be here for the next three to five years working on a data center project and I have truly enjoyed the change of atmosphere. Going from the city to the country was a bit of a shock at first but I have come to love it.

Check back for the latest on my adventure, The Texas Chad.

3 Bald Guys Walk Into a Bar

Chad Everett Harris

What a night or evening or late afternoon. All I can say is that I have not laugh so hard in like a minute. Our workday was basically the same, it was a rinse and repeat kinda day. Trucks in, Turks out and so on. Nothing exciting until we went to grab something to eat.

I typically cook dinner Sunday to Thursday for everyone in the house. Steak on Monday, Taco Tuesday, Chicken Something on Wednesday, Pasta Something on Thursday, and typically take the weekends off. So, after work we headed over to the Piano Bar, the only place we eat at night in Rockdale. Three bald guys order the same meals, same drinks, and even the same dessert.

Typically, we are in and out. Tonight was different. One of the funniest people sat with us. We are going to call her Roxy of Rockdale. She had me nearly pissing in my pants. It was like we have known her our entire life. As we sat and chatted, laughed, and joked about some pretty funny topics.

Now comes the part where 3 Bald Guys Walk Into a Bar. Yes, David wanted to stop at a bar on the way home. It’s called The Barn II. It is in the same parking lot as Becky’s Sandwich shop( which is very good ). It’s not what I expected or maybe it is exactly what I expected. A country bar located on the edge of town. It had a few pool tables, a few tables, and a bar.

All I can say, I have a feeling that Roxy will be returning to my adventures. I forgot, Shadow is coming on Sunday and I am so excited to see him. Ashton is finally able to move to Rockdale and he is bringing Shadow, Cecil, and George.

Until next time, The Texas Chad.

A Rockdale Christmas

What happens when three men get left to their own demise in the middle of nowhere? Well, they make their version of ” Prestige World Wide” from Step Brothers. The video didn’t start out as a planned event. It started out with the video of Lyle and the bobcat, I couldn’t pass it up to give him a bunch of shit for always calling me a boomer. If you think about it, being called a boomer is a compliment- ” boomers are an economically influential generation.”

Enjoy the video, watch our next adventure coming soon.

The 1st Time in 26 Years

Chad Everett Harris, Rockdale Texas

Today is an unusual day for me. It’s the first time in 26 years that I have not been with my wife and sons on Christmas. Over the years I have never missed a holiday at home and I am 100% responsible. At the age of 50, I decided to take at the biggest risk ever and start over. I have talked about it before in this blog but the scale of the risk is enormous. Let me explain.

In 1983, I started a little lawn business in Birmingham, Michigan to earn money. My mother had lost her job and I could see she was stressed over paying bills just to make ends meet. I started mowing grass on our street and I would take all the money I earned and put it in her purse when she wasn’t looking. Soon I was mowing grass in several streets and hustling any little side job. I painted, weeded gardens, cleaned out garages, and anything else someone would hire me to complete.

Fast forward to 1986, I was living in Metairie, Louisiana attending Rummel High School. It was a Christmas morning when my mother made a joke to me, ” Chad, you know grass grows 12 months here in New Orleans.” That Spring, Judy & I ( I called my mom Judy ) moved from Metairie to Lakeview in New Orleans. I remember it like it was yesterday. I would borrow the neighbors’ lawnmower, cut their yard, cut our yard, and proceed to cut 10 more before the day was done.

Back to the story, ( I get sidetracked a lot….) my youngest son, Ashton called me from college and basically told me that it wasn’t for him. I suggested he stay the year whether he went to class or not but just to say we gave it a shot. I feel partly responsible for the loss of interest, during his Junior to Senior year, we closed a business and it caused our family to feel some financial stress. I guess the word, ” some ” is not being used correctly, it was a disaster but a good disaster. I truly feel that Ashton felt the burden of our financial difficulties and it caused him to make a different set of decisions. I must say, I owe him everything. He made it possible for our family to survive the storm and he took on financial responsibilities no 18-year-old should ever consider. Today, every single decision I make, I think about Ashton and his willingness to do anything to help our family weather a financial storm. His brother, Aiden did his part. He maximized his time in college, earn is bachelor’s degree and masters within 4 years, received a job offer, and help his brother with his startup. I will tell you this, my sons are smart thinkers that understand what it takes to make it in the world.

Ashton & Aiden Harris
Ashton & Aiden Harris

That summer when Ashton returned from College with his brother, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do with himself. He went back to his ” precollege job” but that was short lived. He brought up the idea that he wanted to start mining Bitcoin. He and his brother were mining and trading cryptocurrency in high school/college. I asked one question,” are you willing to risk it all?” Ashton immediately said, ” It is the future and I am willing to bet everything on it.” So that is the back story to why I am not home for Christmas.

Today, I am sitting in Rockdale, Texas working on building a data center that operates high-speed computer servers. These servers are used for AI, video rendering, and other similar computing services. When our team completes this project, we will have built the largest facility of its kind in the world.

Cold Drip Coffee

I am a coffee fanatic but it has to be cold and it has to be strong. The days of heading to the local Starbucks to grab some coffee are over. I find that Starbucks and other chain brands offer watered down coffee. I can’t believe they are able to sell it at scale. The day I started dripping my own cold brew I was shocked but the flavor profile of the different roasted beans.

Ok, on to the story. Last week the team from Lancium, was visiting a project I am working on in Rockdale, Texas. Ray walked in with a few pounds of coffee from a company called BoomTown Coffee out of Houston. He remembered during our last meeting, I was talking about not being able to get a good cup of coffee in Rockdale. I was a little skeptical at first until I tried it. It was amazing, I mean stupid good.

Chad Everett Harris, Boomtown Coffee

Check back to see what the next adventure is on the list.