Kent Crosby is a man of such wide-ranging interests that you can start a conversation about gardening and, next thing you know, you’re talking about solar energy or geodesic domes or mythologist Joseph Campbell.
To Crosby, they’re all part of the larger philosophies that he has been developing since the late 1960s, and that guide his work as a carpenter and volunteer organic gardener at the Bakken Museum in south Minneapolis.
“I’m part of the generation that was too young to be Beat, too old to be hip,” said the goateed and ponytailed Crosby, 74.
Decades ago, he spent time in California developing woodworking and organic gardening techniques. Eventually, he made his way back to his native Minneapolis. He started taking woodworking jobs at the Bakken in the late 1990s — a display case here, a table there, benches and trellises somewhere else.
After a while he told Bakken officials that they could use an organic garden and a composting operation. Now Crosby donates an estimated 1,000 hours a year as a volunteer working on both. Crosby raises tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers from seed, and at harvest time the museum holds a salsa party.
Crosby suffered cardiac arrest in 2001 and has a pacemaker. (He insisted on a Medtronic brand device because of his work for the Bakken, which was established by Medtronic founder Earl Bakken.) Now he calls himself “semiretired.”
“When you’re self-employed for 50 years, you’re never ready for retirement,” he said.