Even in a driving rain, the unstoppable energy of Ray Meylor was in full force September 9 when UA members gathered at his new farm during a monthly meet-up to see how construction and planning are moving ahead.
A member of a host of local organizations, including the Food Access & Health Workgroup through the Iowa Food Systems Council and Des Moines Izaak Walton League, Ray is perhaps best known around town as the guy who'll stop by any piece of land you've got and till it into a garden.
But this summer, some of us noticed we'd heard from Ray less often. Where has he gone? Turns out he's been building an incredible new house and shed--now mostly complete--on a ten acre farm east of Saylorville Lake. So, for our September meet-up, we drove out to have a look.
Ray is on a mission to spread the word about the importance of healthy, ecologically focused food systems with as many people as possible. His ceaseless energy and constant stream of projects are a compelling way to get people engaged, but his new farm will include many assets besides the farmer.
His apple trees, some of which came from a neighbor and others from the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, are already becoming established. The NW plot of his farm is planned to become a large prairie restoration that will support a range of pollinators--a particular passion of Ray's. His shed features built in wiring for audio visual presentations, which will make it a great up-and-coming venue for educational presentations when complete. With the buildings largely complete, a hoop house scheduled to go up before winter, and more plans in place, the farm will be ready for substantial plantings next year.
As a heavy rain fell during the meet-up, Ray shared his vision for showing the connections between public health and wellness, the natural environment, and the future of the food system on his ten acres. But looking out the back door and listening to the purposeful way he spoke, you could almost see the apple trees blooming next season or school kids picking tomatoes.
Already, Ray explained, he's hosted a steady stream of people interested in how he's setting up the property, but he seems totally unfazed by all the questions and interest. It's all in a day's work for Ray Meylor, another of our region's true Urban Ambassadors.