10 questions for ‘Farmer Leo’

Ryan “Farmer Leo” Goldsmith is an organic farmer “on the back side of Cardiff” at Farmer Leo’s. He began farming 11 years ago, after closing his farm-fresh catering company in Emeryville. He grew up on the beach in Dana Point (sailing instructor), San Clemente (junior lifeguards) and Laguna (West Street volleyballer).

He has worked in kitchens in New York City, Sonoma County, and on the farm, where Farm Dinners are offered twice a month.

“Feeding people is what makes me happy,” said Goldsmith. “Most of my ‘Life Lessons’ are learned on the farm: 1. Listen and collect from the elders. 2. Nurture the young. 3. Sunlight and hydration are paramount. 4. Leave the space better than how I found it!”

The farm stand is open from 2:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Also, meet him at the Leucadia and Encinitas farmers markets.

What brought you to Encinitas?

My sister moved to Cardiff in the ’90s, from La Costa. I remember coming into Leucadia with its wall-to-wall greenhouses. After a half-lifelong orbit, I returned to SoCal and was looking for farmland. I knew it would be North County, and was very pleased to have found opportunities in Encinitas.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

I would add more farms! I’m already sensing the finger-snap evolving into a full orchestra of food producers. I live on South El Camino Real, so I’d love to snap away cars. And, to improve our beautiful town, I’d snap a large spring-fed reservoir for all of us to thrive.

Who or what inspires you?

Sunrise. Diving to the ocean floor. Kids learning about food origins. Adults learning how to farm. Lives continuing on fruitfully after facing adversity. Turning 40 (end of August)!

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Kim Bueno (childhood “girl next door” best friend), Peggy (grandmother), John Kinder (farming mentor), Katie Mae (good vibes mentor), Teresa Carraturo (compassion mentor), Donna Summer (disco mentor) and both my sisters. I’m blessed to have my sisters living, but the rest are memories.

What are your favorite movies?

Foreign gay documentary-style farming movies. (I am a gay farmer, fictional movies often bore me, and attempting to predict subtitles is a way to stay engaged.)

What is your most prized possession?

My farm! It’s my prize for working at a profession I believe in. Yes, it drives me bonkers equally, but when I enjoy quiet moments of integration, I definitely recognize it not as a possession, but something that guides me. It’s so tirelessly complex, yet part of a timeless simplicity that’s unstoppable. And it stretches in my experience and mind from quiet winter nights dreaming of crop plans to sunny Sundays distributing the bounty at market.

What do you do for fun?

Fun gets my full attention and dedication. Decisions are made to please Fun. I keep my record player in top condition for Fun. I keep my roller skates primed for Fun. Fun is my pilot!

What is it that you most dislike?

Disease. Take it easy!

What would be your dream vacation?

From Alaska to Buenos Aires by any means other than car. Bike, train, sail.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

The more diversity, the better! I say this all the time when folks ask me how I deal with pests on the farm. It also applies to dealing positively with the craziness of life.