Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jason Mraz is living out the title of his latest studio album, “Look for the Good.” In an exclusive interview, he explains why his farm is a constant source of inspiration.
Jason Mraz says he once heard a farmer say, “farmers are the new rock stars.” The “I’m Yours” singer and his wife Christina own and operate a 17-acre property in San Diego’s North County, called Mraz Family Farms, where they grow avocados, passionfruit, and coffee.
They purchased the former avocado grove farm in 2004 and called it the MRanch. By 2015 they had turned it into an organic farm where they grow produce and cultivate good vibes. The motto is to create “peace in the world through organic regenerative agriculture, fair trade, and kind words.”
When Mraz visited other farms, he heard a farmer say, “Farms are the new universities and farmers are the new rock stars
Known for hits like, “The Remedy” and “Have It All,” Mraz believes plants have a “good kind of living spirit,” as exemplified by how they react to water, soil, and care.
“Certainly, when we prune our trees and prune our plants, they react even better,” he says. “They’re almost like, ‘Thank you I needed that hair cut or I needed that massage to spring to life,’ because they want to serve.”
“You start to feel this connection between plant and human,” he says, encouraging consumers to plant more trees. Your local nursery is a great place to figure out which trees grow well in your area.
Mraz says these days people are going back to growing their own food.
“I think a lot of gardens were started this year, I really do,” he says. “I think a lot of people are getting into it.”
One sustainable thing to do is use your yield throughout the year. For example, Mraz grows loquats, a Southern California fruit, for about one month during the summer. During the warm months, Mraz eats the fruit fresh, and uses them to create fruit rollups and jam. He says he also freezes the leftover loquats to be eaten throughout the year in foods like smoothies and oatmeal.
Mraz urges gardeners to compost too. He remembers long ago thinking he was composting when he threw a piece of pizza into a gravel garden. He’s learned a lot since then.
Noting that the definition of inspire is “to breathe life into,” Mraz says he’s inspired by farm life.
“Even though I’m always looking at the same backyard, it’s always different, and that is a constant source of inspiration for me,” he says.
Gardening is hard work and is based on timing and seasons, which he compares to his music career. He plants crops in the spring, they mature over the summer, and are harvested in the fall. Then the field is dormant in the winter, a time of hibernation. As an artist, Mraz’s process follows seasons as well. He first writes music and songs, then records them, and later takes his music on the road. He uses his off time to rest and restore his spirit. Like his garden, he’ll do it all again next year.
Love your garden
Mraz believes in the adage that the best fertilizer is a farmer’s footstep. He recently got a beanie hat with a headlamp so he can garden at night when it’s cooler.
“Sometimes people jokingly call me the ‘midnight mulcher,’” he says.
He encourages other gardeners to find their workflow, whether it’s morning, noon or night. “The garden is going to really love you for it and you’re going to love your garden.”