Alyssa has been farming on farms not her own since 2018.
Last winter she strung together a few jobs in the offseason such as late season harvest help at a large farm, delivering packages for UPS for the holiday season, installing and deinstalling art projects for a business.
It was a really gradual drawn out process in my 20s and early 30s when I was figuring out who I am and what my values are in life.
I followed the traditional path of college and getting my masters, and getting good corporate jobs with benefits and decent money.
At the time when all my peers were settling down with houses and kids, I was struggling with if that was my course.
In Fairbanks, Alaska, I did a farm apprenticeship that gave me the hands-on skills that I was lacking to market this as a career. I felt quite confident leaving that program. I moved back to the Hudson Valley to be close to family.
My first farm job was a gig at a goat dairy – on the goat milking side of things and the farming, marketing and sales.
I quickly learned that people say you are either a vegetable farmer or an animal farmer. I found myself more to be a plant person. I have so much respect for people who work for livestock, but I knew it was in my path to find a veg farm.
This is an expensive county to live in. Most people are second homeowners from Boston and New York. Farmers are pushed out of the housing market. I was paying 4x the amount in rent last season than I am currently this season.
I had to work 2- 3 nights at a restaurant to afford my rent.
The current farm house I live in is an amazing opportunity – it’s owned by a non-profit, and they use the back half of the property for office space – it’s a program for teenagers outside building gardens and trails. Their mission is to support youth and young farmers who don’t have means to buy land or housing.
You could farm for ten or twenty years and still be learning everyday. Also I’m the type of person who is externally motivated – I do better and am more productive when I have someone else I’m working for or with – I feel more motivated and inspired than when I do it all on my own. Farming is a time consuming, strenuous, exhausting profession, if you’re able to find someone that you enjoy spending every day with and the ups and downs of the crazy summer season, you’re lucky. I found that with my current farm owner and that is why I’m coming back. She’s a phenomenal farmer and person – I’m still learning so much from her.
There is a mentality whether it’s true or not, that your employees will never work as hard as you do. That motivates me to work as close or as hard as the farm owner does.
I would say my dream farm would be constantly evolving and adapting to all the needs of its community in terms of more than just food. Alaskans are known for being very rugged and self sufficient people, and at the apprenticeship I did, they offered all kinds of programs: tree pruning, blacksmithing and welding, sheep rearing and processing all their own wool, natural dying, spinning.