How Mr. Turner became Farmer Doug
How Mr. Turner became Farmer Doug

Before Doug Turner was known as “Farmer Doug,” a leader of Orange Home Grown’s Education Farm, he was an electrical sales engineer with a dream of teaching.  Despite the unlikely connection between the worlds of engineering sales and farming, Doug’s journey to becoming a farm manager is a testament to the power of following one’s passions and being open to new opportunities.

“There have been so many wonderful moments throughout this whole experience, and I feel like I’m constantly giving back to the community,” he says.

When Doug’s daughter Megan Penn founded the Orange Home Grown Farmers & Artisans Market (OHG) in 2011, Doug was still working full-time and wasn’t initially involved in the organization.  But as the market grew, he found himself using his engineering background to serve as the go-to handyman.

“I started showing up at the market and took it upon myself to be the one to fix things,” says Doug.  “Then I discovered I was good at being a greeter and loved chatting with new people.”

As the market continued to grow, attracting more than 1,500 visitors each week in its first few years of operation, Doug became more and more invested in OHG and its mission.  When Megan proposed establishing an education farm to complement the market, Doug immediately knew he wanted to be a part of it.

“When Megan said we needed a farm at Orange Home Grown, I found myself drawn to it,” he says.  “I wanted to work the land.”

Now, Doug spends his time maintaining the farm and sharing his passion for sustainable agriculture with the next generation.  He took it upon himself to become an expert in soils and composting.  His journey was entirely self-taught, although he always appreciated nature and ingrained that love for the outdoors in his family.

“He’s very good at diving into something on the internet or reading books and figuring it out,” says Doug’s wife, Martha Turner.  “It’s been a trial-and-error situation, and that’s what’s so beautiful about the farm.  Everybody is just trying to learn and figure it out as they go.”

Along the way, Doug also discovered a new sense of fulfillment in educating young adults about the ins and outs of farming, from composting to soil maintenance.

“My job is to share with them how the soil works, how to make good compost and how we do everything here at the farm,” he says.  “I get such a wonderful  response when they learn about compost, and it’s incredibly rewarding.”

It’s also clear to the rest of the OHG team that Doug finds his role enriching.

“When he’s educating kids on compost, he gets this big grin on his face,” says Megan.  “People really appreciate him, and it’s been so fun to watch him share his knowledge and his love for what he’s doing at the farm with other people.”

For Doug, the entire experience has brought him and his family closer than he ever expected.  They also have a newfound appreciation for each other’s skills as they work together to bring sustainable food to the Orange community.

“The first days of building the farm were so overwhelming because there was so much to do, but it’s been so special working with my dad,” says Megan.  “It was so rewarding, and now I see what we built together.”

Seven years later, the education farm has transformed into an urban community farm.  Aside from the hands-on educational events, the farm hosts a Youth Food Literacy program, a food distribution initiative and farm-to-table chef dinners.  Doug still stands at the heart of it all and welcomes anyone and everyone to play a role at the farm.

“People feel safe on this farm,” says Doug.  “There’s no judgment, and everyone can be their best selves.”

For information about the OHG Education Farm, visit

Article Published in the
May / Jun 23 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Yuki Klotz-Burwel Photo by Kristin Smetona
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