Surf Shacks 084

Robert + Ulrika Glover
Ventura, CA

Stephanie Plomarity

The first time I met Rob Glover was in the year 2000 at a house party in Gainesville, Florida, after a Ben Harper concert. I was hungover, relieving myself in a bathroom the next morning when I heard something. I drew open the shower curtain and there was Rob, big curly fro and all, laying in the bathtub, giggling in his sleep. Twenty years later, Rob and his Swedish-born wife, Ulrika, own Harvest Cafe, an organic vegetarian restaurant in downtown Ventura. Rob and Ulrika live simply in a tiny home up the hill in Oak View, where they grow most of the food they serve at the restaurant. Ulrika has a degree in holistic health and nutrition, and is also a yoga teacher, while Rob is a passionate surfer who has a lust for “slaying drag- ons”—aka big-wave surfing. When he’s not farming or working the restaurant, he’s chasing massive swells from Todo Santos to Mavericks. He’s come a long way from the Florida bath tub.

Stephanie Plomarity
Matt Titone
Stephanie Plomarity

Who are you? Tell us a little about yourselves.

My name is Robert Glover and my wife is Ulrika. We are Cafe owners in Ventura CA and live in a tiny house on our little farm property in Oak View CA. We love to surf, hike, snowboard, ski, camp and adventure. Ulrika has a BA in holistic health and nutrition from Sweden. She is a health and wellness nerd and a yoga teacher. I’m a huge surfer who loves farming and sustainability.

Where are you from? How long have you lived here in Ventura / Oak View?

I’m originally from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida which is a suburb of Jacksonville (go Jags). Ulrika is from Gothenburg, Sweden. We met in Los Angeles in 2009 and moved to Ventura in 2013.

What attracted you to this area?

The waves, the beaches, the beautiful outdoor spaces and activities, the mountains, the ocean, the Channel Islands, the hot springs—this place has it all. Not quite enough snow to ski or snowboard but the drive isn’t too far. We also enjoy the more laid-back and down- to-earth attitude of the folks that live around here. There is a wonderful surfing community here and also a community that is passionate about environmentalism, sustainability, and permaculture, which is right up our alley. We live about 10 minutes inland from the beach and Ventura. Oak View is super quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. Our neighbors are really great people as well and I think those are the things we appreciate the most.

What gave you the idea for Harvest Cafe? What prompted the bold undertaking and investment?

Harvest Cafe was sort of a matching of our educations and passions in life. Ulrika studied health promotion and nutrition at Halmstad University in Sweden and I studied business at the College of Charleston. I became very passionate about organic food, farming, and environmentalism after college and Ulrika has continued to study nutrition and health. By getting to know eachother, traveling together and having endless conversations, Harvest Cafe grew out of both of our minds. We felt that we could make a positive difference in people’s health and our future environment by putting our passions together and starting a farm-to-table cafe. We both always dreamt big and still do. It seemed like a big dream that would never come to fruition but we decided to put our heads down and go for it.

Stephanie Plomarity
Stephanie Plomarity

Having a restaurant is hard enough on its own, but growing most of the food yourselves on your property is a whole other can of worms. What are some important things you’ve learned about sustainable farming?

Patience, resilience, and determination. There have been a lot of moments where we have questioned whether or not the farm undertaking was worth all of the work that it has entailed, but I think we are both very happy now that we did commit to it and are seeing it through. You don’t create healthy soil, a sustainable farm, or a living orchard in a month or a year, or even a couple of years. It takes time, hard work, and dedication. After several years of working on rented land we have recently purchased the farm property and plan on making it our homestead for life. We can now make more permanent plans for the land, such as plant trees for a future orchard, and figure out all of the ways this land will feed our children in the long term. It has been an incredible journey and learning process, and we are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to farm on our land with an eye on the long-term future.

Have you both always been such healthy eaters? When did you first become so “food conscious”?

Ulrika became more food conscious the more she stud- ied nutrition. It came a little later in life for me. Food and diet choices in my mind have always been environmental choices that luckily have also turned out to be good for me. During my self-education in organic farming, I became disgusted with our current industrial food system. We grow government-subsidized, genetically modified corn and soybeans over vast swaths of our country in order to feed them to ruminants who don’t normally consume this diet and have to be pumped full of hormones and antibiotics to avoid them becoming sick. We then feed meat laced with herbicides, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics to our children at an unrealistically low price. This process uses infinitely more water, energy, synthetic fertilizers, and chemicals than if we just grew a healthy variety of fruits, nuts and vegetables organically and fed them directly to our children. This education lead me to not want to participate in meat and dairy industries, and is a big reason why we operate an organic vegetarian restaurant and why we desire to grow our own food.

What do you think the future of restaurants and farm-to-table food supply chains will look like post-COVID-19?

We think the future actually looks very bright. Many people are coming to realize that the best way to defend yourself from illness is to boost your immune system with healthy food. People are also starting to learn and care about where their food comes from and the environmental impacts that their food choices have. We feel that as long as people continue to value their health and the future of the world, the arrow of our industry is pointing up.

Matt Titone

Rob, how did you get into big wave riding?

I’ve dreamed of becoming a big wave surfer my entire life. I used to read books and magazines about big wave surfing and was glued to the screen of any surf film that involved bigger waves. Growing up in Florida did not give me the easiest path to this so it was something I have had to work towards a little later in life than would have been ideal. I spent a year in Hawaii in my early 20’s which got me started on some larger waves but I was recovering from a really bad foot injury at the time and wasn’t able to reach my full potential. It wasn’t until I moved to California that my dream started to become a reality. Having the ability to drive to Mavericks and Todo Santos gave me the ability to take a trip at a moments notice to real big wave spots.  My sister still lived in Hawaii at this point as well and I was able to skip over to surf Waimea. I started out at Waimea and Todos Santos, took quite a few trips to puerto Escondido as well and was totally hooked. Mavs has been the greatest challenge but is also the big wave I surf most often these days.

What has been the scariest experience you’ve had in the water?

I had a near drowning experience in Puerto Escondido around 10 years ago. This was sort of at the beginning of my love affair with big wave surfing and remains one of my scariest moments. When it gets big there it is one of the most challenging and scariest waves in the world. It also gives you the potential to get huge barrels which is the ultimate goal. I lost my board after a bad fall and sort of got caught between a bad runout and never ending sets. I made it to shore after an exhausting swim but had quite a few moments of doubt along the way. This was before floatation vests became available and I now wear one in anything over 15 feet. This experience humbled me a lot and also gave me the motivation to train harder than ever. I’ve had a lot of scary moments to be honest but they get less scary the more you get passed them. You can take comfort in the fact that you have made it through similar situations in the past which allows you to remain calm.

How do you even prepare / train for big conditions? And what techniques do you do to calm yourself down in heavy situations?

I surf, paddle, swim, run, free dive and surf some more. I also utilize some free diving breath techniques (like C02 and 02 tables)  both while resting and while running or paddling. This helps the body to cope physically and mentally with depleted oxygen or increased C02 while preparing the body to have to paddle or swim under those conditions. I ride a longboard when the waves are small which helps you get used to turning a bigger board. If you want to slay a proper dragon, you have to wield a long sword. If you only ride a short board until it gets huge, this transition can be a little awkward so it is good to get on a bigger board from time to time. It is also good to shortboard, get used to making critical drops and riding more critical sections of waves. There are also countless micro adjustments to be made while surfing a big wave so all aspects of surfing all types of waves and wave craft can add to the skillset necessary to perform in big waves. The best training for surfing big waves, however is surfing big waves. The timing and approach are different and gaining experience in bigger surf is the best training you can do.  It takes a lot of time in the lineup at big wave spots to get comfortable and there is no substitute for the experience gained by being out on a big day.

Stephanie Plomarity

What’s it like living in a tiny home?

You adapt and learn to keep things simple. You realize that there are certain creature comforts in life that you are able to live without. You learn that you can cook endless amounts of quality meals on a camp stove. Your hair dryer goes to storage after you find out that it takes a whole day of solar power to dry your hair. You invest in good flannel sheets that will keep you warm. You enjoy evenings with board games, cards, candlelight, and wine. You learn how to build a crawl-in closet—loft style. Rent is minimal and by the end of the year you can add up your rent savings and realize that the house has paid for itself.

Any parting thoughts, words of wisdom, or sage advice?

There is no “Planet B.”

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Matt Titone

A goofy-footed graphic designer who hails from the first state, Delaware. After attending Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL then graduating from SCAD in Savannah, GA with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration, Matt moved to NYC and found work as a freelance designer and art director. In 2006 he moved west to Venice, CA where he co-founded ITAL/C Studio and now resides a bit further north in Oxnard.

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