While earning a degree in public health, 29-year-old Miles Tamboli became interested in nutrition and the community. In 2014, he launched the Girls Inc. Farm in Memphis, which gives girls the opportunity to work on the farm while learning social entrepreneurship, leadership, and civic training. Now an ecology teacher at Bolton High School in Arlington, he’s working on a new project with the students: growing their own food.
Over the last school year, students have become interested in learning about agriculture and applied for grants through Big Green, a non-profit organization that builds agricultural communities.
“Students started making all this happen, and the administration responded,” Miles says.
With the grant money, the school hired Miles who shares the students’ passion for agriculture and plans to utilize the greenhouse that’s already on campus. He’s working on an idea to refit the school’s flowerbeds as edible gardens.
“Students don’t want to hear a lecture for an entire class; They like to do things. Planting seeds, landscaping, working on the edible gardens—these are all hands-on projects they enjoy,” he says. “I love seeing students take on interest in something of their own and go off with an idea. When I see students follow their initiative, their passion is what makes this all worth doing.”
Miles lives what he teaches. He has a small plot of land in the Overton Park area, where he lives with his two dogs and eight chickens. He uses raised flower beds and grows his own food—perennial fruits, blackberries, figs, etc.—things not easy find at the store or are harder to grow.
“Growing my own food is much more convenient. A basket of figs from the store doesn’t last but a couple of days, but a fig tree lets me have them anytime I want,” he says. “It also lets me control the pesticides. I can grow things that need more care and can give that to them in small quantities.”
His lifestyle is what he jokingly likes to call “Farm-Fit.” He maintains good physical health without hitting the gym. Constructing chicken coops, building fences, shoveling, wedding, using tarps, and moving the tires he uses to hold down them down keeps him active and on track with a healthy lifestyle.
“There’s a common misconception that growing food is hard. It is a lot of work and can be difficult. But it’s also intuitive and innate—something that’s been done since the beginning of time. It takes trial and error. Read the seed packets and just keep going,” he suggests to anyone interested in learning to grow food.
By Susanna Lancaster
Butternut Squash + Lima Bean + Chorizo Soup
This recipe is seasonal to winter and early spring because it uses only storage crops that you can purchase from a local farmer in the summer and fall. I like to add a seasonal green veggie element on top. It’s early spring now and we’re in prime asparagus season, so I shaved some on top of the soup before serving.
This recipe serves at least four or freeze it in individual containers for later on in the week.
Note: This recipe relies on fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. If you use fresh local ingredients, you’ll end up with a meal that’s exceptionally rich, delicious, and healthful. If you use only canned, frozen, grocery store ingredients, expect fewer nutrients and less flavor. Use the good stuff. It’s worth it.
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 butternut squash, peeled & cubed
- ½ bulb of fresh garlic, thinly sliced
- ¾ red onion, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ lb shelled lima beans (also called butter beans)
- 1 dried smoked pepper, chopped (check out Sparkling River Pepper Company)
- 1 lb pork chorizo (check out Lazy Dog Farms))
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Fresh asparagus, shaved lengthwise
- A hard, aged cheese (Pecorino, Piave Vecchio, etc)
- Add wine, stock, squash, garlic, onion, salt, and Worcestershire to your slow cooker. Set to low for 8-10 hours or overnight. Let it cool, then blend with heavy cream until smooth. Return it to slow cooker.
- Set slow cooker to low and add lima beans and smoked peppers. Crumble in the chorizo and cook about three hours. Stir in fresh herbs and black pepper.
- Ladle your magnificent creation into bowls and top with finely shaved asparagus and a few pieces of shaved cheese.