Travis Knapp 07: Good Thyming

By Gary Frank

Not so long ago, when Travis Knapp thought about rhythm he was concerned with time signatures in a musical composition. These days the former music-anthropology major is more concerned about the rhythm of the seasons as an organic farmer.

“There’s no limit to the demand for organic food, especially if it’s grown locally,” says Knapp, who grows and sells organic produce through a business called Dancing Turtle.

A short time after graduation, Knapp and his soon-to-be business partner, Ellen Brown, began tending a 20’ x 30’ vegetable garden site on land owned by a friend in West Danby, New York.

“This was the first experience I had with growing much of anything, and it was quite enchanting,” says Knapp, who in 2008 won first place in the BMI Foundation’s John Lennon Scholarship competition, awarded to promising young songwriters. Knapp’s first gardening experience led him to take a course in permaculture, which helped him gain a better understanding of ecological design and land management. With an eye toward selling their produce at the Ithaca Farmers Market, Knapp and Brown continued to tend the West Danby site, as well as another site that had access to well water and greenhouse space. 

“We posted a flier and found some folks who were happy to see their land used in this way,” says Knapp. “Basically it was lots of reading books on how to grow vegetables, then diving in and trying it, and learning on the fly.”

Knapp and Brown have learned well as they sell annual vegetables, sprouts, herbal tea, wheatgrass, and various wild-harvested food items at the Farmers Market. “It has been a great honor to feel like an important part of the Ithaca food chain and to be counted among the fantastic folks who are vendors at the Ithaca Farmers Market,” says Knapp. “Seeing all the fantastic projects starting up and continuing around here that involve food production and sustainable or regenerative attitudes, I have boundless hope for where things are headed.”