A longtime love of science steered Sophie Lattes onto a path toward biology, organic farming, permaculture, and, ultimately, the ideal opportunity as Elkstone Farm principal grower.
A Boulder native, Sophie attended prestigious Tufts University near Boston where plant sciences first caught her fancy. That led to Rodale Institute internships involving studies of organic versus conventional farming, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) experiences in Thailand, Guatemala and Ecuador, and dendroecology research in Tasmania. Back in Boulder, Sophie went for her permaculture design certification and met course instructor Marco Lam. When Marco and his wife Jamie made the move to Elkstone as farm managers, Sophie soon followed.
“I really like that permaculture looks at a variety of systems that over time have been successful. Permaculture pulls together a lot of tried and true practices – hard sciences and social sciences – and really integrates ideas, instead of segregating ideas and considering only one perspective.”
Sophie sees great power in the cultural and community aspects of food, and in the benefits of growing food directly for the people who are eating it. Noting conventional agriculture’s sometimes negative environmental impacts, she values hands-on involvement with regenerative systems such as permaculture, where she can see positive effects on a daily basis.
“The first principle of permaculture, ‘Observe and interact,’ is one of the big ideas that drew me right in. I find if I take time to walk around and see how crops are doing, it really inspires me. What also really inspires me is the sense of optimism I get from permaculture, the idea that these are simple steps you can take to design a property, take action and incorporate these principles into your life. I really want to keep spreading that hope, with our system here as a model. I think that really has power.
An ultra marathon runner, some of Sophie’s other hobbies include skiing, climbing, cooking and playing the banjo. As for pets, she raises worms to use for composting.