I love being a woman and love being a farmer. Working for this woman-run farm – I think it’s awesome. I want to shout it whenever anyone asks me!
Ciara has been farming on the same farm in northern Virginia since 2013. They started working there seasonally while still in college, and have been working there full-time year round for 5 years now.
The farm participates in 7 different farmers’ markets & has a 500 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
I discovered I loved farming when I was WWOOFING (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Israel and Portugal in 2012. When I went away to college, I worked with cows and sheep at the school farm, and by senior year I was the student sheep manager.
I’m 27 now and financially I don’t feel prepared to buy a piece of property and farm. At first when I started, I dreamed of having my own farm. As I’ve gotten deeper in my role here at the farm, I see the value of coming into an established organization, growing here and finding a place here.
I feel really lucky that I found this place that fits me. It’s like getting married – it’s not something to take lightly to find a farm to stay at for a long time.
I lucked my way onto this farm – it’s women run. I really like the ethos of the farm and the people are just incredible. I grew up in Virginia so I’m near my family. In a lot of ways this checks all the boxes without having to undergo the stress and hardship of starting my own farm.
Because I’m not in control of the space – I don’t decide who is hired, who lives here, etc. The owners get to decide and have more of a say. I have to go with the flow. There have been people who have worked for the farm who I really didn’t get along with, but I have to learn to work with.
ultimately it’s been good because I’ve learned to work with people that aren’t my first choice.
By and large this place fits me well so that the growing pains along the way are me growing as a farmer and wanting to make more decisions and the owners seeing that and giving me more room to grow over time.
The support I get at work for me growing as a farmer and for me personally keeps me coming back.
I am salaried with year round work, with really flexible vacation and sick leave – I never have to do anything but say I’m sick or give 2 weeks advance notice for being out of town. I have health insurance. I have a decent salary – every single person on the farm from the newest person to me has health insurance. I am underpaid of course, but I make a good living, I have subsidized housing here, and as much food as I want.
If you are here for 3 years or more, and the farm makes a profit, you get a share of that profit that goes into a retirement account! I have a retirement account from farming! That’s crazy!
Why would I leave?
Where else could I find a farm job where I am fully supported as a learning farmer?
The mission aspects of the farm keep me feeling inspired and that our work is meaningful:
Every year we do the racial justice/racial equity challenge, so we’re grappling with these larger issues of racism and sexism and transphobia in the larger society and trying to create a space that is inclusive on the farm. It’s a majority white space and has been for a really long time, that is something that we are working on that we know won’t be immediately solved. That is really important to me.
There is a market we go to that serves low income and immigrant communities where people pay with their WIC money and that market doubles the WIC money – it’s important to have a market that isn’t just selling to mostly white rich folks.