Job Title: Self-made food expert
Why He’s Top 40: Through his acclaimed blog and non-profit work, he turned a garden hobby into a full-blown obsession and proved you can do it, too.
Key To Success: Self-motivation – “if something needs to get done, and you’re not going to do it, then it’s probably not going to get done.”
If you walked into Kevin Kossowan’s backyard, no one would blame you for forgetting where you are, in North Glenora, minutes from downtown and steps from Groat Road. Lush vegetation and fruit trees line the yard while a massive stone and wood oven that Kossowan built occupies another corner section.
“I had never even laid brick before I did this,” says Kossowan, adding garlic and tomatoes from his garden on an oven-bound pizza. In less than the time it might take to buy a Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Ready, it’s, well, hot and ready.
His adventure in producing food didn’t happen quite as fast, but the motives were the same: As a certified financial planner, he just wanted something more appealing. “I had never gardened on my own as an adult, and in eight years it’s just been one project after another.” It started with growing lettuce and has grown into butchering moose in the family garage.
Seven years ago, he began documenting his urban agriculture experiments at kevinkossowan.com, gaining an international readership and a reputation as one of Edmonton’s go-to experts for anything organic.
Non-profits such as Slow Food Edmonton and the Alberta Farmers’ Market Association headhunted him for their boards, but the biggest compliment is having his produce culled by the kitchens of Drift, NAIT’s culinary program and Elm Caf.
He understands that micro-farming isn’t feasible for everyone. His food and pathos aren’t the solutions to “the people who are going to be concerned about convenience – we’re not the solution for that,” he says. Instead, he aims to “celebrate the seasonality rather than how industry normally wants a homogenous product.”
Kossowan acknowledges how closely tied environmentalism and health-consciousness is to his passion, but asserts that was never the point. “I’m certainly not telling people how to live their lives,” he says. What’s it about then? “I wanted to eat a yummy pizza. So I built the oven.”