This is Hannah’s fifth season farming on farms not her own. She is currently a manager on a 5 acre urban farm. The farm is on city land, and is owned by a cooperative grocery store in Philadelphia.
My grandparents were cranberry and blueberry farmers. My family came to the united states in the 1680s and were farming in New jersey for most of that time until my parents’ generation.
There are no farmers in my parents’ generation.
I’m pregnant now – that is an impossible thing to do when you’re farming for someone else.
I’m doing it now, and it’s fine, but it’s not like I feel like I can continue farming much longer.
We are tied into pretty long work days during the summer, and it’s physical labor – there’s a certain point where I won’t be able to do it fast enough. I’ve chosen to do it for the past five seasons, but I’ve put myself in a position where I have to find something else to do. I could work at other farms with more contained hours, but childcare is really expensive so the wages wouldn’t pay for the childcare…so it feels like this sort of impossible thing to keep farming.
I don’t think I can say to a farm owner, ‘I’m 8 months pregnant’ because part of farm work is physical labor, and people are expecting it from you. That is true with any big body change – injury, sickness, etc.
There is pretty big instability with any manual labor job.
The friends of mine who farm & have had children, they own their own farm, farm with their partner, and shift roles to take care of the kid. Certainly it’s not easy, but you have the flexibility – have the kid on the farm with you, or do computer work when your body isn’t able to do field work.
There are a lot of boundaries when you’re a laborer on someone else’s farm. Now I’m a manager and salaried, and there are not a lot of boundaries around time. We have to have produce for the CSA, and the day can go on and on.
It can feel like the season swallows your whole life when there is too much coming in to harvest, and you have CSA members who are depending on you to have the food on the table; you can’t just not have it there.
I DID FIND A REAL PRODUCTION FARM IN PHILLY, AND THE COMMUNITY REALLY AMAZING AND I LOVE BEING PART OF A FARM THAT IS COMMUNALLY OWNED AND HAS A DIFFERENT SET UP. THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE. ALL OF OUR CSA MEMBERS PICK UP ON THE FARM AND WE HAVE A “U-PICK” SECTION – PEOPLE ARE SO EXCITED TO PICK THEIR OWN FLOWERS OR HOT PEPPERS OR HAVE A PICNIC.
More than our CSA members enjoy the food – some of them enjoy being part of their food life and having a space that is a little bit rural in an urban setting – somewhere they can feel connected to the land.
I stayed because of the community and the other farmers, even though they are workaholics. I really like our team and we get along. And it helps motivate when things get hard.
Welcome Baby Ale!