Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart was invited to speak during the Jan. 25 Land Investment Expo. She lives on a 150-acre farm just outside New York City.

DES MOINES — Martha Stewart is a farmer.

Of course, Martha Stewart isn’t a farmer in any way similar to most Midwest farmers, but she does live on a farm and grow crops. And as such she was invited to speak during the Jan. 25 Land Investment Expo sponsored by the Peoples Company.

Stewart has fashioned a career out of being a bit of an expert on food and crafts and fashion — a career that began on Wall Street morphed into that of a caterer to doing television and print products. Today she lives on a 150-acre farm just outside New York City, where she has greenhouses and plots growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables organically. She and her staff there have chickens. They compost.

“I call this backyard farming,” Stewart told the audience. “It’s a big backyard. But it’s still a backyard.”

The key, Stewart said, is that she loves to grow things. She describes her compost as “black gold” and talks enthusiastically about visiting farms in distant places such as Tasmania. She also talks about the need to tell the public how food is grown.

“I’m always astonished,” she said. “People don’t know how carrots are grown.”

And she says that living on a farm and growing things helps her in her business. She actually grows things and learns from the process, explaining that “if you’re not authentic, you’re not a good teacher.”

Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.