Green Leaf Farms is a ‘happy fusion’ of agriculture and architecture, says its founder Antonio Hall. After returning home from university and spending several years working as an architect, Hall says he was driven by a call from God, to ‘take the leap’ and pursue his passion. It’s decision he says he hasn’t regretted.
While Green Leaf Farms is still a relatively new company, Hall says that, “everything has been lining up” and he has received tremendous support, particularly from local chefs desiring fresh herbs and produce. In addition, Hall says that his background in architectural design has enabled him to offer well designed and constructed private garden layouts, so that persons can grow more of what they eat out of their own backyards.
“It’s a fairly new company but it is catching on. I not only want to offer fresh produce and herbs but offer the service of setting up private gardens. That’s where my architectural training comes in. I can give people a well-designed architectural drawings for a garden layout. I’m trying to get people back to eating out of their yards and knowing where their foods comes form. I know what it is to grow, I know what it is to design. It’s a happy fusion,” says Hall.
“Right now I’m growing the different varieties of basil, garlic chives, soy beans (edamame), and three different varieties of egg plants, some rosemary and Spanish thyme. Our climate is so unique in that there isn’t that can’t grow here.”
Hall notes that his passion for agriculture emerged at a very young age. “I loved agriculture since I was a kid. I would basically plant every seed that came into our home. It just stuck with me,” says Hall.
“When I went off to university, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, I studied architecture and got both professional degrees in architecture. I took a lot of landscape architectural courses while there because I wanted to obtain a Masters of Landscape Architecture (MLA); I wanted to do a fusion of architecture and landscape architecture. I took a lot of botany classes and landscape architecture courses. I always enjoyed learning about plants and growing things,” says Hall.
After returning home and taking up employment as an architect, Hall says he soon realised that he needed to get his hands in the soil. “I purchased a piece of property adjacent to my parents’ home because I already had their yard filled with vegetables and there was simply no more space. That’s how I really got my start into turning this into a full time thing. I started out with two raised bed gardens.” Hall says that number has now grown to 15.
“When it got real serious for me is when I started having visions and dreams about agriculture. I looked at it as a call from God. It was all I could think about in my free time; it became almost an obsession. I was doing research on agriculture and farming, how to do things differently and what exotic variety of vegetables and fruits could grow in our climate. It just came to a point where I spoke it over with my wife and I had to have a conversation with God. I told God that if this is what he wanted me to do then he had to show me something. When I did that, things just started lining up and it showed me that it was time to start going into my purpose,” says Hall.
Still, Hall says leaving a secure job as an architect and diving into the unknown was the ‘scariest decision’ of his life. “I really don’t regret it one bit. I surrounded myself with people I aspire to be like and spoke to them about business and they told me that at some point you have to take the leap. Everything has been lining up.”
“I’m really grateful for my time at TDG Architects. They push young people to be great. They give young people the opportunity to flex their skills and I really appreciate those guys for allowing me to do what I did there. I consider myself very fortunate. You have a lot of people working a 9-5 and just going through the motions,” says Hall.
“I’ve learned that if you truly want it you have to go and get it, no one is going give it to you. You have to make things happen. If it’s not happening don’t sit on your hands and wait. Once you get going you’re going to see people come to you,” says Hall.