Team Real AF: The Podcast
I wandered around outside of the IDEA Center at 7 on Monday night, basking in the positive news from my chiropractor appointment earlier in the day, and waiting for a man to come and let me in.
I’d never met this man, but was quite excited about the prospect. Finally, he came to the door. He was younger than I expected, with a pretty classic American Guy look: buff; decaled t-shirt; camo hat featuring an American Flag and Dogfish Head logo; and cold IPA in his hand.
“Yes indeed – nice to meet you, Bill.”
We shook hands, and he led me through the dark channels of the IDEA Center to a small recording studio that I never knew existed. He sat down behind the computer, and me behind the guest mic.
The man was Bill Koepke – founder and operator of Team Early AF. He had initially reached out to Polly, in regard to a series of cooking classes he’s starting, featuring local farms, a video crew, and meals based out of CSA boxes. He introduced himself as a fitness coach, Farmshed member, Podcast host, business owner and local food enthusiast, and inquired about Rising Sand’s interest in participating. I was immediately intrigued, and jumped on board to be his lead RSO contact.
Two emails, a phone call, and a handful of texts later, here we were. We jumped right into conversation about the core concepts of his health and fitness philosophy, and his ambitions for local food. He was radical and interesting, with an infectiously sharp, unabashed sense of ambition.
“Yeah, I’ve actually tried Blue Apron and other pre-prepped meal services. I hate absolutely everything that they stand for, but my clients were getting them, so I had to try. It’s like taking the shitty groceries from the grocery store, processing them even more, and shipping them across the country. It’s gross. I fucking hate the grocery store.”
By the time we got around to recording the Podcast, I had a pretty good feel for Bill’s philosophy, as he’d done a majority of the talking. He was a game-changer.
“See, I could write exercise programs for days, but that’s the boring part. What really excites me is the psychology behind it all. The coaches that I train are always asking me for details on the form of deadlifts and stuff like that, but that will come in time. That’s the boring part… I feel like, if we’re doing our job, we should look back on our programs from a year ago and see all the mistakes we’d made and changes we’ve implemented. We have to keep asking questions.”
I really vibed with everything he was saying. It seemed, however, like we were missing gold. “Dude, should we be recording this?”
“Nah, this is the first take; the second take is always better. So how did you get on this track from Registered Dietitian to farmer?”
I told him the story of my first real foray into the organic farming life. I was hungover at the farmers’ market on a sunny Saturday morning, desperately searching for a glass of cold milk. I saw a sign for meat and eggs, and approached the farmer. “Dude, do you have any milk for sale by any chance?”
It happened to be John Sheffy of Liberation Farmers. By the time I left, we had the basics in place for a two-week stint doing chores at his farm, which I could tie in with my Dietetic Internship. Fast forward four years, and I’m a podcasting co-owner of Rising Sand Organics.
With this story, Bill was satisfied, and we fired up the cameras and mics and got to recording.
From there, it was a whirlwind flurry of topical activity and we bounced around excitedly in attention-deficit mode –Rising Sand; local food; cooperative structure; quitting day jobs; farmers’ diets; Maple and Sage; Meristem Mayhem; CSA; CSA; CSA; Curbside Compost… We just talked and talked and talked.
It was real as fuck. Bill, to his credit, allowed us to meander as we wished, getting aptly distracted along the way. “Yeah, I’m actually going to look up a picture really quick here. Hmm…”
“… Uhh, yeah, so if we could get back to the cooperative structure for a bit here, Bill…”
“Oh yeah, of course.”
At the end of it, he asked what I was most excited about this summer. We got onto the topic of canning and food preservation, and we were off to the races once more.
At the end of it, he asked if there was anything else I would like to share. I got into Supper Club, and our radical views and activities around food that is free, and we were off to the races once more.
At the end of it, he asked if there was one action step I would recommend for someone looking to foray into local foods. I bounced around a bit, then settled on one.
“Yeah. Go to the Farmers’ Market at 9:30 on a Saturday morning. Make a lap; take in the scene and the energy, and then go to the grocery store and take a lap there. Take notice of the difference in energy, communication and community.”
“That’s a good one; I like that.”
With that, we finally wrapped up. He thanked me for my appearance and I thanked him for the opportunity. We shook hands and he navigated my way out of the building. I walked home on a natural high; riding the tide of his relentless energy and enthusiasm for the world. Something tells me that we haven’t yet heard the last of Bill Koepke. Something tells me the world will never hear the last of Bill Koepke.