Elan Silverblatt-Buser '12 Innovates on Sustainable Farm
Albuquerque Journal: Brothers innovate on Corrales farm
The best cucumbers you have ever tried, butter lettuce as sweet as its name, heirloom tomatoes that taste purple, and basil so bright that one leaf carries the essence.
At Silver Leaf Farms in Corrales [N.M.], brothers Aaron and Elan Silverblatt-Buser '12 are growing vibrant, fresh produce year-round.
So why are these two young guys who grew up in Corrales working so hard to farm? Surprisingly or not, both have a similar answer: they’ve always loved being outside and, in different ways, growing food.
Now they pursue their passion together, which means figuring out how to run a sustainable farming operation that produces quality crops, has a low carbon footprint and pays the bills.
As anyone who has tried to grow food in the desert knows, each of these goals is lofty in its own right. Combine all three and you begin to understand why the Silverblatt-Busers are approaching the age-old art of farming in an innovative way.
In the Corrales greenhouse where extensive rows of food grow hydroponically in coconut husks, where solar panels power the evaporative coolers and where self designed software crunches production data, it’s clear these guys have a vision for what is possible when you marry ingenuity with passion.
“We are balancing technology and back-to-the-land practices. We are trying to figure out how to approach big problems,” says Elan, who at 26 is two years younger than Aaron.
Elan took a different path and headed east to Swarthmore College near Philadelphia where he studied molecular plant genetics.
From there, he went to Mexico on a Fulbright scholarship where he researched climate change and food security, followed by time in Serbia where he focused on renewable energy development. Throughout his travels, exploring food and cultures were a recurring theme.
“Food plays a major role in people’s lives for different reasons. Food is universal and can break down cultural barriers. I have found this to be true in my travels as well as here in New Mexico,” says Elan.
Elan Silverblatt-Buser '12 graduated from Swarthmore with honors in biology. At Swarthmore, thanks to an undergraduate research fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists and funding that Associate Professor of Biology Nick Kaplinsky received from the National Institutes of Health, he was able to experience life as a research scientist one summer while conducting a series of experiments in Kaplinsky's lab.