Robin spent the past year working with a non-profit at a farmers’ market in Maryland and as a program manager at a farm education program for youth.
Robin started off farming at a 40 acre farm in 2013 in Pennsylvania, and has gone on to work for 4-5 different growing operations in the DC/MD area.
I really like working on a team, being part of a team at the farmers’ market or in the fields, just working together and showing up and doing a very hard day’s work collaboratively with our bodies. I feel fortunate to be able to do that. You don’t get paid very much so it is very hard. I’m fortunate too because my family has been supportive of my choice to do that, although that’s also hard, too.
There inevitably becomes a power dynamic or questioning of how people are spending their time (on a farm not your own).
How they (owners vs. workers) define work differs. I’m thinking particularly about a situation that occurred on a farm where people were wondering why the owner wouldn’t spend time harvesting or washing… where are they? The owner was feeling resentful of the workers feeling that way toward them, the owner felt like they weren’t being valued. It created a lot of tension.
there is inherent tension because someone is writing a check, you’re relying on them financially, and if there is also housing tied to the situation – there’s not a lot of distance for private life for farmers.
I feel like when you have a really great group of people who can communicate well together, it doesn’t have to feel quite as hard.
Qualities of a dream farm:
- one that is 10 acres or more, where teams of 5 – 10 people can work at a time.
- there will be different types of plants, trees, bushes, perennials, a lot of different stuff growing all over the place.
- probably there are check ins regularly, expectations of how everyone will be treated and spoken to…everyone is affirmed in terms of their identity.
- hopefully it’s a wage where everyone can survive, a decent quality of life.
- a farm that is looking at health through plants, and intergenerational.
- a place where you’re able to ask the question of how to maintain a quality of life, how much money do I need to make a year to meet a baseline – where you can ask that question and be heard would be nice.