Lifestyle changes: Kris Mitchell followed her bliss into business

January 2017 Posted in Community

Kris Mitchell;s passion for gardening lead to a real labor of love.

By Melissa Wagoner

Kris Mitchell knew she was in trouble when she began contemplating gaining another 10 pounds in order to qualify for the bariatric surgery that would help her lose weight.

“I didn’t qualify for insurance because I didn’t have health problems yet,” she explained.

Around that time, Mitchell came across a documentary called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, about a man striving to become healthier while on a 60-day juice cleanse. That’s when she decided against gaining more weight in favor of going on her own 40-day juice fast. She lost 40 pounds and has never looked back.

“What it did for me was it reset my cravings and reset my taste buds,” she said.

Always a lover of vegetables and an avid gardener, Mitchell grows much of the vegetables she eats on her new, healthier diet herself. Quite a change after spending the majority of her days in an office working in the securities industry. Four years ago she married her husband, John, and moved to his acreage in Silverton. Here, her love of gardening became more than a hobby.

“When we got married we moved his mother in. She was 95,” she said. “I was able to quit my job.”

Last year Mitchell’s life changed again when her mother-in-law passed away and she found herself asking, “What are you going to do now?”

That’s when she decided to take her love of gardening and cooking and the things she has learned about eating healthy and combine them into a business.

“When I worked full-time I fought for every minute in the garden,” she said. “Now I thought, why can’t I get paid to do this?”

Originally she kept the idea to herself while she doubled the size of her family garden plot and turned an old shed into her office. Then she rolled out her idea to feed six families, including her own, all summer long.

“I think that it was a huge undertaking,” she said, “and I think my husband thought I was insane and out of my mind.”

Although Mitchell said one of her biggest challenges is organization, she came up with several goals for her business. These were: growing food sustainably, her personal health, public education and maintaining a charitable aspect.

After a winter of planning and a spring of planting, Eastview Garden Share and Farm Stand opened for business with a total of five shares sold.

“I did not want to follow the default business model in this country where the very first thing you do is go into debt,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a good thing. I’ve always been frugal with my money. I tend to make do with what I can put my hands on right here. So, the whole idea of sustainable growth — I don’t want to lose that relationship with the growing.”

This summer Eastview produced enough food to feed Mitchell, her husband and her teenage daughter as well as the five families who picked up a box of fresh vegetables every week throughout the summer. There was even enough left over for a farm stand that Mitchell opened in her front yard nearly every Thursday evening and stocked with garden extras as well as coffee from Silver Falls Coffee, owned by her brother, and quilts from the Trinity Quilters. She was even able to donate lettuce to the Trinity Lutheran Church and hopes to donate more next year.

“I would like to do something with the food bank where they could take orders for things like lettuce. It’s a challenge to get something that isn’t already old,” she said.

Having raised four kids on a modest budget, Mitchell knows the difficulty in affording healthy food.

“People often balk at the cost of a subscription,” she said. “Part of the reason is because of the falsely low food prices in the grocery store. For a family of four it used to be that their number one cost was food in the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

Along with a weekly supply of vegetables Mitchell’s customers receive a newsletter with a review of her week, what she’s harvested and preserved and recipes that can be made from the bounty.

“About 90 people are getting the newsletter,” she said. “I want to teach people in a way that makes sense now to make food for yourself out of stuff that was grown right here. I don’t think cooking a TV dinner is that much easier than actually cooking.”

Now that the season is over, Mitchell is excitedly looking forward to next year. Along with putting in a winter garden of greens, garlic and other cold weather vegetables she has already begun to map out her goals. She plans to double the size of her garden plot as well as the number of subscriptions she will accept. She also hopes to expand the variety of subscriptions customers can choose from. She refers to this year’s boxes as “Adventure.” In the future she hopes to add a “Finger Food” package made up of snackable vegetables like snap peas and carrots, “Garden Share Salad,” made up of toppings and greens, and a “Meat and Potatoes” package, lacking only the meat.

Although spring is months away, Mitchell will begin taking applications for garden shares in January. She also plans to continue spending time in the garden when it’s possible and in her office/potting shed when it’s not.

“In the winter when the sun comes out you could miss it,” she said, “but out here I’m really connected.”  

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.