When I first met Brian Hulsey at a conference in Columbus, Ohio in 2016, I immediately recognized his brilliant energy. He exuded a light to which so many gravitated. He was friendly, welcoming, and was a colorful personality that made me want to make a new friend. In the library field, you meet some incredible people–so many creative minds, unique individuals making the world a better place because of the universal mission to connect people with vital information. Brian Hulsey is one of these people. One of those sexy librarians who you wouldn’t initially clock as an invisible bun and cardigan-wearing force to be reckoned with.
Now, Hulsey has traded in his shelving books for digging his hands in the soil as an urban farmer in Vancouver, Washington. The tatted-up 39-year-old otter has become one with the Earth and is now more deeply rooted in the cultivation of his own food and in providing for his community in a new way. If you follow Hulsey, you know that he is also an expert-level yoga practitioner who graces his followers with his furry bum whenever the mood strikes. These reasons are why Brian Hulsey is this week’s Instinct Hottie.
So let’s get down and dirty with Brian Hulsey and learn more about the bearded Zaddy (Zucchini Daddy) from the Pacific Northwest.
DAVID LOPEZ: Tell me about your urban farming? How did you get into this?
BRIAN HULSEY: My grandparents farmed, and I would spend each summer working with them until I went to college. I learned so much from them, and these summers opened my eyes to how we interact with nature and our communities, agriculturally. I wanted to farm, but that wasn’t an option for me, being a child of the 80’s during the college push. So, I decided to always grow something to share no matter where I lived, and no matter the space – from small balcony pots of tomatoes to larger allotment/shared spaces of greens. I started thinking about a market farm as a retirement plan almost immediately after finishing grad school, but it was always a dream until last year. I was the Operations Manager of a library system in Southwest WA, when Covid hit last March, and it really started to put things into perspective for me in terms of personal happiness, and what I wanted to achieve with my time on this rock in space. Well, you know that quote floating around the internet, “It’s never too late and you are never too old”? I took it to heart, left my library job in May, and started my small ¼ acre Urban Farm, Rose Village Farms to focus on food education and scarcity in my community.
Other than your love for plants and soil, what other things bring you joy?
Birds, books, and yoga! I’m an avid birder, and mark everyone that I’ve seen in my Sibley’s guide. I read about 80-100 books a year, and they are all over the map in terms of content. I also have a daily yoga practice that helped me get sober 2018, and continues to bring clarity to my life. I highly suggest trying one, if not all three of these things.
Everyone loves a sexy librarian! Tell me your experience working in libraries.
I’ve worked in libraries for about 20 years now, starting as a work study student at my undergrad university’s law library. I’ve worked in academic, law, and for the bulk of my career, public libraries. Everyone thinks it’s about reading and books, but it’s so much more than that! It’s community engagement and education, it’s social work, it’s advocacy, and it’s wearing 50 hats on a 20 hat budget. Libraries and librarians aren’t the bun-shushing keepers like they used to be, they are an amazing resource and tend to be overlooked. I bet if you gaze at what your library offers you’d be surprised, and finally. Sleep with a librarian, you’ll learn something!
What do you think is the most attractive part about yourself?
There’s no pretense with me – This is who I am, like it or leave it.
What do you find you are complimented on the most?
As of late it’s been my beard, before that it was my tattoos, but if we are talking physical features, I’m quite callipygian.
Look it up, folks!
What, to you, defines sexy?
Curiosity and conviction. Someone who is always learning, or wants to learn, while having an understanding of who they are, what they believe in, and the why behind it.
What is your proudest moment so far in your life?
When Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, told me she was impressed with my work on the American Library Association Emerging Leaders Project to track equity, diversity, and inclusion in Public Library staffing. She also sat and chatted with me for a few hours with unbelievably insightful answers to questions I had for her. Seriously, the picture from this night still graces my refrigerator.
What haven’t you accomplished, personally or professionally, that you are wanting to do in the next 2-3 years?
I want to buy a larger piece of land, not only to be able to produce more myself, but to also create a space for BIPOC, Queer, and Womxn farmers. This would allow us to build a farming consortium for larger scale sales for all involved, as well as offer them space for substantially less or free to farm on – something that inhibits lots of small scale farmers from surviving. Additionally, I would like to start a free or paid farm education program for those interested in agriculture, where they can get some knowledge and experience.
Have you found love? If so, what is the best part of your relationship and what do you love most in your partner(s)?
I have; I found my husband, Kyle, 11 years ago! This is a hard one, because there is so much in our relationship that I could gush about, but the best part is our open and honest communication with each other. I look for kindness and empathy in their interactions with others, because it’s telling for how they will interact with you.
Rapid-fire question time:
- What is your all-time favorite movie?
- Hands-down, the 1982 animated fantasy, The Last Unicorn. As a queer kid, this movie gave me hope that I wasn’t alone and would find others like me. Plus, the cast is beyond amazing – Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges, Christopher Lee, Alan Arkin, and Angela Landsbury – WOW!
- Who is your biggest celebrity crush?
- It has, and always will be, Christopher Meloni – I blame Oz.
- What is your favorite cheat meal or snack?
- Vegan Cookies! Seriously, I’m a cookie monster, and no cookie is safe around me. However, Oatmeal chocolate chips with walnuts are my absolute favorite.
- If you were stuck on an island for eternity, what music album would you want to have with you?
- Rumors by Fleetwood Mac – I listen to it at least once a week
What does it mean to be featured as our Instinct Hottie?
I still can’t believe it, honestly. I wasn’t ever considered a ‘hottie’ growing up, so now that I’m almost 40, it makes it even better!
Anything else you’d like to share with the Instinct readers?
Grow something this summer – one little tomato is an act of rebellion!