Hannah has just finished her second year farming as a profession on not her own farm. She has been WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and doing work exchanges on farms for about 5 years.
I grew up outside of Philly and was just around farms all the time. Growing was a natural part of my communities, in schools, and family. I came to New York to go to art school, I studied art and was doing that for a little bit. I started losing my mind in the city. I always reached this wall where I thought, ‘this place is toxic, what am I doing here?’
That is when I started WWOOFFing, because I was a freelance illustrator, it allowed me the agency to work somewhere else.
I started picking farms that were accessible by bus or a quick drive. I started doing month long stays every six months.
I became more and more in love with it – in this way that it centered me in myself and purpose. Every time I came back to the city, I had this feeling of ‘Why is it that I have to leave the city to do this thing that I love?’ I started managing the farmers’ market in the city.
I think the engagement of food to the community – that connection, it really just shifted my perspective of what my purpose was and what is important in life, in these confusing times we are living in.
I think there is a lot I have to learn. I think there is this humbling of I’m not prepared and to get to a certain point of owning my own farm, I would need to learn from many more people. With working for another farm I’m seeking out guidance and sage wisdom, and I really like actively learning.
I don’t think I have a desire to go back to school to learn about agriculture, but I like the community element of farms. I like being able to constantly be able to bounce off of each other – other farm hands and farm managers. Why is this soil producing this? Having these hypothetical questions that perhaps someone has the answer to. I like having this community based way of learning that I’ve found working on other people’s farms.
It’s kind of beautiful the way it works out. Farming has the off season – it’s this moment where I return to illustrating for some income. Through the farm season I’m observing and taking in all the beauty and learning, and during the winter it becomes this moment of reflection and creation from that. A lot of my art has started to reflect my relationship with agriculture, in a spiritual sense.
The land! The bugs! The plants! The root of it all is this higher understanding of community support through food and the power that comes in helping people eat good food and understanding how to grow food, and make that accessible. Understanding that food and food justice is at this root of equal existence in humanity.
I think it’s this way back home, and home being to the land, to understanding how do we wake up every day, how do we exist?
It’s through the energy that is coming through this food.
I feel so much peace and purpose when I’m farming. With so much pain throughout our species and world, I can’t really make sense of doing anything else outside of helping grow food and feeding people. It’s the root of how we continue existing as a species and I want to share that.
There is a disconnect between farmers and the administration/owners/those that don’t show up to the farm every single day.
Having the day to day connection and observance of the land creates specific priorities and acts of care. It fosters an understanding of what you are producing and how well it is producing or why it isn’t. When there is a person in power who does not share that relationship with the land, there are often unrealistic expectations set or harsh judgement projected onto the farmers.
(A dream farm for me would be…)