A Family with a Full Plate

This couple’s passion for local food has profound impacts on their community, county and beyond.

  • Eileen Horn, Rick Martin and their son Leo enjoy eating homegrown food from their backyard garden.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Award-winning chef Rick Martin shares his cooking skills with his family every day.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Leo has inherited his parents' love of good, locally grown food.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Rick uses locally produced vegetables, dairy, wheat and meat to top his pizzas.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The behemoth, wood-fired, clay-brick pizza oven is the focal point of the Limestone Pizza's open kitchen.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • At Juniper Hill Farm, farmers take delivery boxes right into the field, fill them and ship them out.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • Family meals are savored in Eileen and Rick's home.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The 10 public garden spaces now part of Eileen Horn’s Common Ground project produced more than 60,000 dollars worth of produce in 2016.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie
  • The city of Lawrence identified vacant lots that could be used for urban farming and made them available to community members, free of charge, to transform into gardens.
    Photo by Diane Guthrie

In the backyard stands a sandbox filled with yellow trucks. Next to it is a small vegetable patch. Both are 2-1/2-year-old Leo’s playgrounds. Rick Martin pulls a radish out of the garden, shakes off the dirt, and hands it to his son. Leo takes a big bite. “Is it good?” Dad asks. Leo gives an exaggerated head bob, his mouth too full to speak.

“We weren’t sure if he was old enough to get it this year, but he totally is,” says Eileen Horn, Leo’s mom, gesturing to the raised garden she and Rick planted with foods they thought Leo would like: tomatoes, peas, cucumbers.

Eileen and Rick have focused their careers on this simple thing: getting people excited about eating produce grown near them.

Rick, a restaurateur, makes new converts every time a customer bites into one of his wood-fired pizzas topped with produce fresh from area farms. Eileen, the sustainability director for the City of Lawrence and Douglas County in Kansas, develops visionary programs, such as free community orchards, that get people eating the fruits of their labors.

Together, this couple has had an outsized impact on the health, economy and environment of their community by showing others how fulfilling — and delicious — a more sustainable, just and earth-friendly way of living can be.

A Zig-Zag Path

When Eileen left her childhood home in Lenexa, Kansas, to attend college, she had her life all figured out. She was going to be a doctor. But, as it so often does, life had its own plans.

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