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Profile: Debra Homan Eschmeyer

Profile: Debra Homan Eschmeyer
By France Griggs Sloat

Debra Homan Eschmeyer

BSBA in marketing; Bachelor of Arts in international affairs, 2002

Co-founder, FoodCorps Inc.; owner, Harvest Sun Farm

New Knoxville, Ohio

Farm Girl | The youngest of seven children, Eschmeyer milked cows, weeded gardens and prepared meals for the family. No soccer camp or swim time for the Homan children. She resented it at the time, but now that she’s an adult, she understands the demands of a large family dairy farm.

Pea Pod Moment | “I remember lying under the pea vines, plucking the pods and popping the peas in my mouth and loving every minute of it. I did not like the days I had to go out and weed, but now I appreciate that I was outside doing something and I realized how much I loved farming.”

Farm Boy | The storybook version of her life continued when, in 2002, she married Jeff Eschmeyer, her high school sweetheart, who grew up on his own family farm just two miles down the road. They had been pals since kindergarten.

Peas and Carrots | She eventually discovered that her degrees dovetailed nicely with her knowledge of farming. This became the basis for a career focused on food systems and child nutrition. But first, she and Jeff wanted to join the Peace Corps. Just days before leaving for Ecuador, Jeff was diagnosed with diabetes, and they didn’t get to go.

Farm Policy | With the spark for public service ignited, they moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for nonprofit agencies dealing with federal farm policy, child nutrition and the impact of public policy on farmers and healthy food. “It taught me about all the different players involved. Did you know there’s a lobby for lentils?”

Glorious Food | A position with the National Farm to School Network led her to co-found a nonprofit, FoodCorps, which works with schools on nutrition education, growing gardens and bringing high-quality food into school cafeterias.

Eat Fresh | “When kids grow food in the garden and then try it and realize it actually tastes good, they feel better because it’s good for them. It’s that simple and it leads to higher academic achievement and a happier, healthy life.”

Back On the Farm | “I remember a professor saying you can’t take the country out of the girl. I thought he was crazy.”

Certified Organic | Their farm earned its organic certification last year and now grows everything from “asparagus to zucchini,” which they sell to local farmers’ markets, restaurants and a grocery.

Good Food | “For an organization based on helping improve diet and nutrition, it is fitting I live on a farm that measures success by our nutrition per acre. I dream that everyone can have healthy food. It’s the issue that both sides of the political table can agree on.”

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