Julian Clarke '20

Back in the 1960s, there was a television show on CBS called Green Acres about an urban lawyer named Oliver Wendell Douglas who yearned to leave New York City and become a gentleman farmer. He followed his dream and moved to a little farm in the country that would be best described as a “fixer upper.”
Senior Julian Clarke (‘20) is Beacon Academy’s resident gentleman farmer. His love of farming and nature were cultivated at an early age by his mother and brought to fruition during his time at Beacon.
Julian grew up in South Orange, New Jersey (22 miles from New York City), and came to Chicago after his parents divorced. When he arrived in Chicago, Julian lived with his mother downtown.
So how does a kid who spent all of his formative years in urban areas develop a love of gardening?
“My mom owned a little plot in a community garden, and every other weekend I would go with her and she would plant her tomatoes and I would wander around. I became super into it,” said Julian. “I really liked the garden and figured that’s something I would really like to do.”
Fast forward to high school where Julian got the chance to put his gardening skills to work.
“Beacon featured an Interim last year were we stayed at a farm for a week and I really enjoyed it,” Julian remembered. “It was so different to me because I have never been to a farm before, only the community garden. I could see myself living this lifestyle.”
The farm that changed Julian’s life was the Amstutz Family Farm Camp known as the Country Experience in Elizabeth, Illinois. The farm started as a sleep-away camp but according to their website has also become a destination for school groups and teachers looking to put hands-on learning into practice. It is also a spot for families to get away and relax.
“I met up with the [farm] counselors and asked if I could get a job after the Interim and they told me that I could work for them as an intern for an entire summer,” Julian recalled. “I applied online and got the job. My connection during Beacon’s Interim made it a lot easier to get the internship.”
With graduation not that far away, Julian is looking at schools in the agricultural field. “I have definitely considered soil sciences but I am also thinking of studying horticulture, maybe something a little more plant-based.”
Julian feels that his time at Beacon has helped steer him in the right direction. “I definitely know that I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about my career choice if it weren’t for Beacon.”