I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and first really delved into farming when I was in school in Montreal, ending up taking a lot of agriculture and environmental science classes. For the last two seasons, I have been apprenticing on farms–last year at a small CSA in my hometown, and this year at a large vegetable and dairy farm in the Hudson Valley.
I have slowly but irrevocably been drawn to farming for a number of reasons. It may not surprise you to learn that part of what brought me to apprentice here at Hawthorne Valley Farm is a love of good food—growing it, cooking it, eating it. As a kid, I learned to enjoy quite an eclectic variety of cuisine; my dad hails from the Pacific Northwest, and it shows through his cooking (think smoked salmon, Asian-inspired dishes, and food with simple, fresh ingredients in general), and my mom comes from the great Midwestern tradition of Jell-O salads and comfort foods. Whatever is being served, though, for me food is (and should be) irrevocably linked with intimacy, community, family. My love of good food (and sharing it with others) is but one part of my attraction to working the land; for me, farming is also tied up with a passion for environmentalism and social justice. I hope that in some small way, through sustainable agriculture, I may help to promote “respect for the interdependent web of all existence,” to encourage a renewed land ethic while improving access to safe and nutritious food for people in rural and urban areas alike.
These are the impulses that have guided me here, but now that I have arrived, I have fallen in love with farming in ways I never expected. I find this kind of work intellectually and spiritually fulfilling—it requires me to think simultaneously about the minutiae and the big picture, keeping in mind the wellbeing of each organism and whole system interactions (think soil, weather, domesticated and wild flora and fauna, the watershed, the human food system). There’s something else that I feel I have gained, something a little harder to pinpoint. It’s a thing I could never have learned, studying agriculture in the abstract, and even now, I am struggling to describe. By choosing to reconnect myself with the land and with physical work, a dormant part of me, at once new (in my own life) and very old (in the arc of human history), is slowly opening up.