Roman Warlick (he/they)

You can’t strike if you are worried about how to feed your children. If your farmer is like ‘I’ve got you’ – then you can do the work.

Roman has been farming for 3 years. He currently lives in Washington, DC, and was planning on farming in upstate NY this season, but the pandemic made that not an option. 

Where I grew up, I lived in the country. We had chickens and a garden. It was more like subsistence farming. My mom stayed at home. My father was in the military and gone 6-8 months out of the year. We were an hour away from a town. 

I grew up running through woods and cutting chickens’ heads off for dinner, slaughtering a hog at Christmas. The rural south is what it is.

I went to college to do something far different from this because I’m so different from my family. 

As an adult, I was doing activism in Baton Rouge, and we were building a community garden. I went around collecting pallets, made container gardens for herbs, built up beds. 
The act of being in the dirt as an adult, it really just re-grabbed me. 
I love the soil, I love the fact that I’m putting seeds in the ground. this is what I want to do. 

This is my calling. This is what brings me joy and I can turn around and bring joy to other people.

My longest tenure on a farm was at an urban edible flower farm. I did that for a year and a half, and worked my way up from farm hand to flower production manager.

I become the flower production manager because of so much turnover – I was the most senior staff at one year. 

It’s the worst place I’ve ever worked.

The boss had really weird expectations and micromanaged you, and expected you to be on call 24/7 to make instagram content. She would pull you aside and ask you to jump 10 times so she could get the right photo.

I’m a trans person being paid minimum wage while the owner talks about how much money she is making, upwards of $30k revenue a month. 

People are so far removed from the food system, and if you’re buying microgreens you’re really removed. The farm where I worked tried to sell this as sustainable farming and regenerative agriculture when I had to literally fight for cover crops.

I’m never trying to be a farm owner. Ideally I’ll be part of a collective of trans and queer farmers in the south. My friend has family land – reparations given to their grandfather back in the day. 80 acres. 
I’m focused on getting the farm skills that I need to start that project. 

This is what i’m supposed to do. I can be tired, smell like fish emulsion, and I’m happy. I have depression so when I’m happy, that’s good stuff. 

I won’t ever stop farming, even if it doesn’t look like rows of veggies, I’m still going to be a soil worker and work with the earth and steward it and get to know it and learn what I need to do with it. 

I just hope that one day I’ll get a boss that’s not horrible. 

I know it’s not the task, it’s not the work of it that is ever the problem. It’s the same systems that are in place everywhere else that make it terrible:

White supremacy and capitalism.

Everything I know a Black or Indigenous person taught me.

I had to unlearn.

If you feel surprised that a black person invented the CSA or cooperatives, then you should really think about why you think white people invented sustainability. 

Regeneration is being repackaged and sold back to people. People have been telling you and now you’re like, ‘let me sell you a book. Small scale farming that’s what we need to do.’ There is no communal concept or connection to the earth. 

Instead of wanting to control nature, we need to recognize our part in it. 

We are the same as the tree squirrel – we are part of the whole system.