Q&A: Brandon D'Imperio of Circle Rock Ranch - Modern Farmer

Q&A: Brandon D’Imperio of Circle Rock Ranch

Meet the first winner of our #iamamodernfarmer contest, Brandon D'Imperio, the owner of Circle Rock Ranch, on Vashon Island, Washington.

Courtesy Brandon D'Imperio on Instagram
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The 34-year-old, who was born and raised in LA, graduated from Le Cordon Blue in 2001 and worked his way through the kitchens of Patina, Bastide, Citrine, and the Roosevelt Hotel before drifting away from cooking and instead toward the land. D’Imperio says he wanted to gain a more thorough understanding of what food really is.

After traveling the world and learning from small farmers in Asia, Europe, and South America, he began building his “own food culture” like the ones he’d witnessed in his travels. After nine years and a number of moves, he and Jody Rollins settled on 10 acres where they raise 25 sheep for wool and meat, a dozen pigs, 100 laying hens, 30 turkeys, several goats, and two horses, along with growing various vegetables. They also have an orchard of cider trees used to make cider at their brewery (they also make beer), and are gearing up to launch a CSA and an agro-tourism bed and breakfast. Oh yeah, then there’s the foraging and fishing D’Imperio does as well. He’s obviously no slouch; and he definitely is a modern farmer.

Modern Farmer: Why do you consider yourself a modern farmer?

BD: I consider myself a modern farmer not by the machinery or techniques I use, but by the morals and ethics in which I abide by to uphold the integrity of the land and the quality of food I feed myself and my community.

MF: Why is it important to you to support local agriculture?

BD: The primary reason for me is to maintain a focus of building relationships with my community. What better way to do that then with food?

MF: If you could grow or raise any food or animal, what would it be?

BD: Honestly, I am already raising what I would like to most. That would be sheep. They are beautiful, gentle animals that offer so much, from wool to dairy to meat and pasture management.

MF: What’s your favorite vegetable?

BD: I don’t have a favorite vegetable. It is what is wrong with our food culture. People get stuck on one thing and are no longer able to adapt. All vegetables are my favorite, especially those that are fresh and in season.

MF: What advice do you have for other modern farmers?

BD: My advice to other farmers would be… Make sure you know what you are getting involved in… This is a lifestyle of commitment and integrity more than it is about growing a pretty product and making a dime. It’s about being a provider and a caretaker, a steward of the earth. It is most importantly about making good decisions and being available to see them through.

MF: Do you have a farming or agricultural hero? Why do you admire him or her?

BD: I don’t have a specific agricultural hero but rather I look up to the men and women as a whole that work to feed their communities. Everyone has something to offer and using a little bit of information from each person is what inspires me.

Want a chance at an interview with Modern Farmer and other cool prizes? Just post a picture or a video on Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #iamamodernfarmer and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Every week, we’ll choose one winner to be profiled on ModernFarmer.com. Every month, one of the weekly winners will be picked to win $100 in Modern Farmer swag. One of the monthly winners will also win the grand prize: A VIP trip for two to the Farm Aid 2016 concert!

Added bonus: If you purchase an “I am a modern farmer” t-shirt, you’ll stand in solidarity with the hardworking men and women who produce our food. You certainly don’t have to don the shirt to post and have a chance to win, but with sales of these tees, Modern Farmer supports independent farmers with a donation to Farm Aid.

Need inspiration? Check out all the #iamamodernfarmer posts from across the country – and around the world!

See official contest rules here.