Chloe has been farming on farms not her own in Pennsylvania and New York for 13 years. She is currently a farm manager at a non-profit farm & arts project in New York City.
She started farming in 8th grade at a farm a mile down the road from her house, and continued working there through high school, before moving onto a different farm. She has shifted over the years to pursuing farming as a career rather than summer jobs.
I’ve been an advocate for non-hierarchical structures in all aspects of my life.
I think cooperative farming structures that really promote curiosity, innovation, and experimentation just create a more interesting work environment.
A new farm hand with two months experience has a voice and should be considered when decisions are made.
I think transparency is something that is always lacking. If a farm was really honest about financials, goals, about what situations are occurring that hard or good, owners that just talk to the team rather than faking it – I would feel more part of a team and have more loyalty to that system.
When leadership isn’t really getting it, that impacts the whole organization, you become more of a cog in the systems and not an individual who is putting in so much work.
Working for hobby farmers or millionaire farmers who have no concept of farming, but take all the credit for all your actions is pretty tough – the facade of what the organization is versus what it does.
Not practicing what they preach in terms of poor labor conditions, not being paid sufficiently, not getting sick time off, not getting vacation time or holiday pay, no over time, not having access to a bathroom, not having workers comp, anything like that. It’s pretty tough to swallow after a while.
I’ve experienced assault and sexual harassment that is definitely not something that was ever sufficiently addressed.
I’ve also worked on animal farms and witnessed a lot of animal violence and inhumane actions against animals and nothing happened – even after reporting it.
With farming, I love seeing the cycle… getting excited for when arugula is in season, or when tomatoes are in season, or when the winter squash is ready.
It’s a seasonal cycle filled with different memories. It’s really satisfying having that as my time table.
The first farm I worked on was such a community based farm that was so welcoming and totally by farmers for farmers.
That vision is inspirational to people interested in farming and getting to know farming.
I THINK THERE A VERY REAL FALSE ILLUSION WITHIN PEOPLE WHO CONSIDER THEMSELVES WELL VERSED ON FOOD ARE REALLY PRO SMALL FARMS, WHICH ARE THE ONLY FARMS I’VE WORKED ON, AND THEY THINK THEY ARE SOME LITTLE SAFE HAVEN AND IDEAL EDEN, AND THAT THESE PROBLEMS ONLY EXIST ON LARGE MONO CROP FARMS LIKE 1000 ACRE FARMS IN FLORIDA…IT’S HARD TO COMMUNICATE TO CUSTOMERS, ‘NO IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE.’
I definitely had a long period of time where I didn’t feel like I was good enough to have my own farm. I didn’t think I could manage a farm even though I tended to have more experience than most of the people I worked with. I’m not sure where that came from.
No one else in my immediate network does anything like what I’m doing. Everyone else is a consultant, an analyst or lawyer. I went to a good college and a lot of the times when people asked, ‘What do you do?’ and I said ‘Farming’… it was always met with ‘Why are you here then? You don’t need to be smart to farm’.
So I just think the perspective of non-farmers to farmers shows how deeply ignorant people are about the food system, and how distanced people make themselves to their food, pretty intentionally, I think.
Being the other in my network has pushed everyone in my network to address it and think more critically where their food comes from.