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Community Highlights: Meet Craig Madden of Yard to Table Creations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Craig Madden.

Hi Craig, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I have always had a passion for food. From a young age, I was always cooking. I spent my early 20’s working in construction as a carpenter. After the housing crash in 2008, I decided to follow a dream of becoming a chef. I went to culinary school and started that journey. Nearly ten years later, I had achieved an executive chef position that I thought I had dreamed of. In helping to open a few restaurants, I began realizing the financial insanity of opening a restaurant. Combined with the brutal schedule and a new baby, I realized I needed a change. I naturally became interested in our food system, being immersed in the culinary world already. The more I learned, the more angry I got. I had become disenchanted with the “Farm to Table” movement because I knew nearly every restaurant was lying. I figured I could help fix this. Given my background in carpentry, cooking, and my newfound knack for gardening, I started Yard to Table Creations. I have since dedicated my life to teaching people about the importance of the food they eat.

I believe we can solve many health and community issues through gardening. I try to take the scary out of gardening and show them how to build, maintain and use everything they grow. More importantly, I am helping people get back in touch with a part of us that has only recently disappeared from our daily lives. Gardening helps to develop a tangible relationship with our food, thus giving us a real appreciation of what their food is, how it got there and why we have to eat in a way that is healthy for our bodies, our cultural mentality and our environment.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No way! As someone who did not study business in school, I went into this blind. I had a good idea and the confidence to give it a shot. My wife supported us financially and emotionally while I took this crazy dive. Owning a business, especially a small business, is never certain. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable to do this. No one held my hand or walked me through the steps. I fumbled, made mistakes and screwed a bunch of things up. I’m glad I did because those lessons were are the most important.

We’ve been impressed with Yard to Table Creations, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I specialize in edible gardening and landscapes. I teach people how to build, maintain, and use everything they grow in their gardens. I also run a garden space in Spring Valley where we donate hundreds of pounds of produce a year to foster kids, families, and other poor youth in the community. The first and most important goal of my company is to better my community through food. Cooking and gardening are very intimate and primal activities that we all need. I want to bring as many people as I can as close as I can to their food and the environment that helps to create it.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I firmly believe that for our country to survive long term, we need to get back to being a part of our community. As the world around us becomes fractured and tribal, we have an opportunity to get back to focusing on the immediate community around us. I think the pandemic has spurred a movement that was already happening. More and more people are wanting more control over their diet. More and more people are environmentally aware. More people are fed up with garbage food and wasteful, harmful farming practices. The community is key to our success. It always has been.

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