Ellen Baird (she/her)

I’m very independent and I like to be in charge, but working on someone else’s farm- the decisions aren’t all up to me. I have to factor in other people’s opinions and enforce things that maybe I don’t agree with. Straddling that line is hard for me.

Ellen has been working on farms not her own for close 10 years (including time spent interning on farms during college).

Ellen fell into farming by accident. She took a course in Agroecology on a whim during her freshman year of college. She ended up loving it, and her professor became her advisor (and eventually sold Ellen her first FARM TRUCK!). More serendipity ensued when Ellen interviewed farmers for her thesis focused on the young farmer movement, and she interviewed a farmer that she went to apprentice for upon graduation.

I discovered I felt the most myself when I was farming. It gets me out of my head.

I have a high capacity for empathy – which can become emotional overwhelm! and when I’ve worked other jobs, I find it really draining, it takes a lot out of me.

With farming, it is a really good physical way to deal with anxiety and strong emotions. I am physically able to work out those feelings.

One farm I worked on, the mentality was very much haul ass and learn along the way. Her (the farm owner) main goal was that it was a business and we needed to do XYZ for it to succeed- our learning was secondary. We didn’t really talk about the realities of burnout and not checking in with yourself – it can take a toll.

So often I’ve seen a man intern for a summer and then go on to start his own farm. Women as evidenced by my life and research – you never feel like you know enough. I know all these women who are so qualified with knowledge, capacity, heart to do it, but think ‘oh but…’

I hear Michelle Obama in my head when she said of world leaders in a meeting (paraphrased) – they are JUST people, they have things to learn and sometimes they are wrong. I am no less capable. You can always find a reason to not do it…if it tanks, it tanks…but go for it anyway.

Farming bridges a lot of things that I love: being outside, working physically and a connection to a larger community. It’s a way to give to people that I wasn’t always able to create in an office setting.