I realize that it has been some time since I updated this blog to reflect my current life position, which I’ve been in since January. Here it goes…
After I left Foggy Ridge Cider, I was scooped up by Severine Von Tscharner Fleming of the Greenhorns, a young farmer activist organization. She offered me a place to stay in the Champlain Valley of New York and a full diet CSA share from Essex Farm if I came and worked with the Greenhorns on a part-time basis. I accepted and that’s where I’m typing from right now.
Last year around this time, I was sitting on a porch in Virginia venting about how unhappy I was with my social life, which eventually led to me being unhappy with my place-based work. Fed up with my sob story, one of the listeners asked: “Well, what is it that you want to do?” I thought about it for a moment and then replied: I want to cultivate a way of growing apples that is low-input, environmentally friendly, and within the confines of my personal ethics. His response: “You won’t make any money doing that anytime soon. You’ve got to do something in the meantime that will make money.”
Isn’t that the plight of the young agrarian these days? Finding a means to support yourself in order to get your ideal occupation off the ground and running? For some reason, there seems to be a stigma attached to supplementing your farm business with outside income in the agricultural realm, and that has to end. Times are different now. Land is expensive or hard to come by, markets need to be created, consumer education is imperative due to increasing disconnect, and the food system is broken. Just because someone’s income isn’t fully derived from the farm doesn’t mean they are any less of a farmer. These days, anyone trying to work the land in order to grow environmetnally friendly/ethical food should be heralded rather than deemed “hobby farmer” or something to that extent. They might be working towards it, for all we know. Heck, I could grow way more trees if I was using round-up. I could sell more apples if I sprayed harsh chemicals to make them blemish free, the income of both these options could cover my “survival income.” But neither of those options meet the goals of what I want to do/who I want to be. So, I decided to take a part-time job that met my goals and would help me and others out in the future: Farmer Activist for the Greenhorns (AKA, Director of Biodiversity)
I’m an activist because I’m a farmer who is tired of the status quo in a world where change needs to happen. Gone are the days of sitting on the agricultural periphery, wishing I had something meaningful to contribute or a way to convey my thoughts. This year, I’ve developed the confidence to use my voice and cultivated the tools necessary to bring about awareness to Americans. Poor. Rich. Conservative. Liberal…we all [hopefully] know what an apple is and can talk about one.
Speaking of apples, I’m also working with them in the Champlain valley. I’m involved with a few orchards up here, do some orchard consulting (minimal, I really don’t enjoy consulting), teach workshops, and constantly scheme about how to better my practices for the future (hopefully in Virginia).
Life is crazily busy and I am in a downright struggle to manage it all. Balance is needed, as always, and I often fight work-a-holic tendencies. But, I love where my life is right now and I am excited for every new day. That’s my update for now.