Anya has been farming for 6 years, and now works at a hydroponic farm in Brooklyn, NY that grows in shipping containers. She was the farm manager at a production farm in VA for 3 years, and has dirt farmed in NY state and PA, as well.
Plants are slow and nature is slow; you are forced to learn slowly, and something that I always think about now that I am farming indoors with grow lights is how many more chances we get to try something than someone farming outside.
When you’re farming, say, winter squash, you get one shot a year to do a good job at it.
There is something kind of amazing about the rush, adrenaline, thrill – one shot to grow this and do it differently than last year.
You’re pouring over your notes – ‘it was hot that day, what can I do better, it was dry that day we planted’. You are trying to improve on something you did 365 days ago.
Now, farming indoors, we have shorter growing crops and more chances to do it right, but then there are all these variables that are out of your control.
Those variables that make you feel so insane are the things that keep you coming back. It’s exciting to have to work with things that are out of your hands.
It’s humbling. no matter how hard you work sometimes, you’re still going to have a deer eat your whole field of lettuce.
A lot of times people who own farms are not doing the actual farming part of farming – they don’t really understand:
- how hard it is
- how emotional it is
- how unfair it is that the people who do this work are seen and treated the way they are -treated as lower class citizens because they aren’t paid anything because it’s not seen as skilled work.
As if it doesn’t require attention to detail, stamina, experience. There is so much ignorance and discrediting people who have farm experience as if they probably don’t know anything.
I want to advocate for the people who are in this industry.
How can we care so much about farm to table, care so much about organic whatever, and care so little about the work and knowledge that goes into making that food, too?
There is very little visibility, and I feel dedicated to creating that visibility. I want to make people see the value.
I look around NYC and there are construction workers everywhere – they go through apprenticeship programs, get an hourly wage, health insurance – because what they are doing is dangerous work. They are benefiting the city, fixing things.
I don’t see the difference between that type of work and farming.
If something on the subway is broken versus growing food. Both are benefiting society.
People who work on farms often aren’t supported by society in that way.