Learning Healthy Leadership through Law of the Harvest

Working with the land is a great teacher of natural principles that are transferable to leadership.  The principles I have learned from vegetable farming can be carried over into our professional lives. 

Law of the Harvest 

Stephen Covey was a strong influence in the building of the consulting company ThreeWill. My brother (and co-founder) and I would take early walks before our workday to discuss the values of our future company.  One concept that stuck with me from reading Stephen Covey was the “Law of the Harvest.”  He shares the lesson you learn on a farm and you can not rush the process.

Did you ever consider how ridiculous it would be to try to cram on a farm—to forget to plant in the spring, play all summer and then cram in the fall to bring in the harvest? The farm is a natural system. The price must be paid and the process followed. You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.

Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

For example, if you want to harvest green beans.  There are some things you can do to shorten the time to harvest, but you still will need to wait at least 45 days to get green beans from the time you decide to grow green beans. You just can’t plant a green bean seed today and expect to harvest green beans from the plant tomorrow. As Steven Covey says, there is no cramming in farming.

Natural Laws on the Farm

In an instant gratification society (Amazon next day delivery and ordering fast food as examples) we can lose sight that accomplishments that you are proud of come through an intentional planned effort.  In vegetable farming, there are several factors that go in a well planned harvest.  I would like to share my experience with three of these concepts: Creating Fertile Ground, Planting Seeds and Tending the Field.

I will share some brief thoughts (these concepts can be their own posts) on these natural systems that occur in nature and then how that understanding can be translated to business and leading teams.

Creating Fertile Ground 

You feed your plants by feeding and caring for the soil.  In organic vegetable farming, one key way to do this is through compost. In addition to compost, you can feed the soil through cover crop to increase biomass and carbon in the soil.  Creating healthy soil will feed the plants and allow plants to have strong resistance to diseases and pests. This foundation of healthy soil is one of the key elements of a successful vegetable farm.

Planting Seeds

As simple as it sounds, you can’t have a harvest unless you start with a seed.  With planting seeds, you need to think about what seeds to plant based on your goals for the farm and what plants you are prepared to nurture.  One of the biggest challenges with farming is planting too many seeds and not having the time to properly take care of them.

Tending to the Field 

Removing weeds early. Walking the field to see when an area of the field is suffering or under stress.  Noticing the small things that could turn into bigger things. With farming, things can quickly get out of control if there is lack of care provided at early signs of stress or problems.  For example, when you find blight on tomato leaves, you want to remove the leaves early before that blight spreads further into the tomato plant causing you to potentially lose the whole plant.

Translating this to Business

Creating Fertile Ground Through Creating a Healthy Culture

A healthy company culture creates the fertile ground needed for ideas to “germinate and thrive!” The culture of a company can be compared to the soil on the farm. A heathy culture is a key foundational part of a thriving business. Just as poor soil yields unproductive crops, poor culture yields low trust, lack of common ground and overall can impact how your company can come together as a team and achieve challenging goals.

Planting Seeds By Casting a Vision

On a farm you sow seeds. In a business, you sow seeds through ideas, vision/mission and belief in your team. As mentioned in “Planting Seeds” above, you need to be careful to only sew the number of seeds you can tend to and nurture. It is easy to get overwhelmed with “sewing” too many ideas. It is better to have a business plan for the year that determines what are the right number of ideas (seeds) that need to germinate within your teams. Speaking from experience, a team can get easily get overwhelmed or confused if you plant too many seeds. Those ideas (seeds) compete with each other which will decrease the chances of that idea to come to fruition (or in farming terms – bear fruit).

Tending the Field through Understanding the Needs of the Team

Planting ideas (or seeds) in an organization can be the fun part. Coming up with the next great idea is exciting, but we all know the hard work is seeing that idea through to completion and getting good results. Seeing an idea through to completion requires showing up each day and “walking the farm.” Walking the farm to see what needs attention and to connect to what is working and not working through in person observations.

The plants of the farm can be in some way compared to the people of your organization. Your team needs the constant interaction to see what is working or not working along with getting a sense of what needs help before it becomes a true problem. For example, as a pepper plant matures it can get top heavy and topple over if you do not stake it. You want to do this same preventative maintenance with your teams. You do this by staying connected to your team members to be sure they are healthy and have the support they need to play their roles as they get their jobs done to the best of their ability.

Two Other Points of Comparison

Showing Up

Showing up is a key to the success in farming and success in business.  Expanding on law of the harvest and tending to the field, it takes a consistent commitment to see results over time.  It is the constant attention to detail over time that will show up in progress in the long term.  If you don’t keep consistent with “showing up,” then things can degrade.  You can get overrun with weeds or disease on the farm or have your business wither without attention to the health of the people in your company.

Embrace self governing systems

There is value in letting natural systems self-govern as much as feasible.  Creating an environment where plants use their natural ability to adapt to their conditions will help make the plant stronger.  You do not want to create dependencies to things that are available naturally.  For example, you do not want to provide fertilizers if nutrients occur naturally in well amended soil (usually through nature provided nutrients in compost).  Nature has a way of taking care of itself without our help (just look at an old growth forest).  There are times we just need to get out of nature’s way.  That also can apply to the people we lead.  We sometimes need to get out of the way and let them learn through natural consequences that reinforce what works and does not work.  If we shield people from failure, then they cannot grow from experiencing natural consequences.

In summary, I have reaffirmed what works in business through observing laws of nature and general experience that comes with the hard work of vegetable farming. These natural laws are not just limited to the farm, but carry over to our personal and professional lives. I would love to hear from others on how they see nature teaching them concepts or principles based on personal observations. You would be amazed to see what comes to mind when you stop and think about it. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. It does not have to be vegetable farming. It could be vegetable gardening, taking care of flower beds or just growing one plant on your porch. Looking forward to learning from others.

Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe


This is a recipe from a friend of IMO that loves to find good ways to make a spicy condiment.


  • Enough hot peppers to fill 3/4 of a 32 oz canning jar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp pickling salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  1. Add hot peppers to a 32 oz canning jar
  2. Boil all the ingredients and pour over the peppers.
  3. Let cool and refrigerate.


It is best to let it sit for about a week before use, but the longer it sits, the better it gets.

Lemony Cucumbers Recipe


We had a IMO Customer mention this recipe to us when he was picking up his vegetables from the farm stand. This is a quick and refreshing way to enjoy fresh summer cucumbers!


  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


  1. Score cucumbers with a fork and thinly slice.
  2. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring well.
  3. Pour over cucumbers.
  4. Cover and chill at least 4 hours


Depending on your tastes, you might adjust the balance between vinegar, sugar and lemon juice to better tune the proportions of the recipe.

Basic Pesto Recipe


Pesto is a quick and easy sauce you can use on many things from pasta to green beans. You can make pesto from other greens besides basil (for example, mustard greens) and use a variety of nuts from pine nuts, pecans to walnuts. What is key to a good pesto is to toast the nuts.


  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste


  1. In a food processor, blend together all ingredients without oil and then add oil and blend until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate leftover Pesto up to 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.


If you want parmesan cheese, just sprinkle on each portion you use.

Oilve oil can be cut by 25% and could go 50% when replacing basil with mustard greens.

Fresh Sugar Snap Pea Slaw Recipe


The two things we have in great abundance in early summer / late spring are sugar snap peas and scallions. This recipe is a great way to enjoy the natural texture and flavor that comes with fresh pea pods and scallions.


  • 2 cups sliced sugar snap peas
  • 3/4 cup julienne red pepper
  • 3 scallions diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup oil (light flavored)
  • 1 Tbs Dolcedi or honey or agave
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 cup citrus champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste


  1. Combine sugar snap peas, red peppers, scallions, and green cabbage in a large bowl.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Toss with vegetables and serve chilled.


This is a link to the source of the recipe “Sugar Snap Pea Easy Summer Slaw” from Joanie Simon’s website. We have also tried lime infused vinegar for the vinegar in the recipe and have enjoyed that as a substitution.

Canton Farmers Market Schedule

We have enjoyed our first three weeks at the Canton Farmers Market. We have had some repeat customers ask us for a schedule of the weeks we will be attending. Below is our schedule for the Canton Farmers Market for the Summer 2019 Season. Saturdays where we are not attending are noted and we will update if our schedule changes

  • May 11
  • May 18
  • May 25
  • June 1 (not attending)
  • June 8 (rained out)
  • June 15 (not attending)
  • June 22
  • June 29 (not attending)
  • July 6
  • July 13
  • July 20 (not attending)
  • July 27
  • August 3 (not attending)
  • August 10
  • August 17 (not attending – growing fall crops)
  • August 24 (not attending)
  • August 31 (not attending – growing fall crops)
  • September 7 (not attending)
  • September 14
  • September 21 (not attending)
  • September 28
  • October 5 (not attending)
  • October 12

Taking Care of Your Produce


This blog post contains very basic instructions on how to care for the typical vegetables we provide at Iron Mountain Organics. We will update this blog as we learn more about what works best. Feel free to add comments to this post for tips that work best for you.

Fresh Greens, Beans, Peppers and Peas

If dirty, wash with water before refrigerating and dry before storing them in a clean plastic bag with a few paper towels.

Tomatoes and Potatoes

Keep in a cool, dry place with good ventilation.  They should be stored at room temperature and washed just before using.


Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator, wrapped with a moist paper towel or you can stand them up in a glass of cold water wrapped with a damp paper towel.

Plastic bags with tiny vents help keep produce fresh longer by releasing moisture. They are great for grapes, blueberries, cherries or strawberries.

Keep whole melons at room temperature. 

General Tips

Freezing fruits at home is a fast and convenient way to preserve produce at their peak maturity and nutritional quality.

Freezing most vegetables at home is a fast, convenient way to preserve produce at their peak maturity and nutritional quality. Freezing is not recommended for artichokes, Belgian endive, eggplant, lettuce greens, potatoes (other than mashed), radishes, sprouts and sweet potatoes.

Here is a great article on how long vegetables can be stored –
https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/shopping-storing/more-shopping-storing/how-to-store-vegetables Here is also an article on storing fresh cut herbs – https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_store_parsley_cilantro_and_other_fresh_herbs/

Raw Kale Salad Recipe


Probably one of our favorite raw recipes. Extremely easy to make and very tasty.


  • 1 large bunch of kale (about 5 cups)
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic (pressed)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (more for garnish)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds


  1. Wash kale, trim the leaves off the stems, cut into wide ribbons and place into large bowl
  2. Add all ingredients except for sunflower seeds and massage kale for two minutes with your hands
  3. Add sunflower seeds and mix in
  4. Serve with additional grated cheese


Best to purchase hardier kale like lacinato kale.

Sautéd Swiss Chard Recipe


Fresh swiss chard can have a buttery flavor and a much softer texture compared to kale. This simple recipe is simple and quick.


  • Swiss Chard – 1 bunch (5-7 large leaves)
  • Olive Oil – 1-2 Tbsp
  • (Optional) Red Pepper flakes – 1 pinch


  1. Cut up the swiss chard leaves into ribbons and finely chop the stalks.
  2. Heat a fry pan to medium heat and add the olive oil (and red pepper flakes if you want a bit of spice).
  3. Add the swiss chard ribbons, salt & pepper and put a lid on the pan.
  4. Cook for 1-2 minutes, flip the swiss chard, put the lid back on and then cook 1-2 more minutes.


You can add the chopped stalks first before the leaves to ensure the stalks soften. Also, you can go light on the olive oil and add some after cooking.

New Year Cream Peas Recipe


When searching for a New Year’s Day recipe that included peas and greens, I came across several very simple recipes. What I was not able to find was a recipe without bacon. Bacon makes a lot of sense for a recipe that needs fat and salt to transform a bland vegetable into a savory vegetable. This is a recipe, I created on New Years Day for 2019, that takes the standard Southern Cream Recipe and turns it into a healthier version of its classic cousin recipe .


  • 1 pound Dried Cream Peas, Shelled and Rehydrated
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Roughly Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3 cups Water Or Enough To Cover The Peas
  • 2 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste


Soak enough cream peas to make a pound of peas when rehydrated (you can also use fresh peas). This recipe can be used with a variety of field peas. I have tested this with #8 Texas Cream Peas. Rinse the rehydrated peas and let them drain in a colander for a moment. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to a large pot. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the peas and enough water to cover the peas. The water should be about 1/2 inch above the peas. Add some salt (1/4 teaspoon) and lots of pepper (1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Bring the peas to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the peas are tender but still just a tiny bit firm. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half. When the peas are done place in a serving bowl and add additional salt and pepper if needed.