8 years ago in California, I was the farm driver for the farmers’ market. I’ve been farming on and off, moving around doing seasonal stuff, ever since. Right now I am a furloughed employee at a cannabis grow in New Mexico.
I’m originally from Bakersfield, California. My brother worked in the agricultural industry – not farming. It was disgusting and unsafe, and i saw how bad it was for him. i thought – I’m going to do the hippy thing. I don’t ever want to come home in the shape that he came in.
What brought me to farming is that I had never found any job that I particularly liked. I just did whatever retail was closest to my house.
I was homeless for many years.
This woman ended up renting out a casita behind her house for very cheap, and when I didn’t have the rent money, she would sort of work-trade with me. She had a hobby farm on the property that I lived on. I tagged along, and she would teach me.
I realized that this is something I want to do full time. I lived in the part of California where there was both industrial agriculture and hippy work. I sort of found that a lot of my friends worked for these farm internships – they were independently wealthy and just volunteering.
I was looking for a paid way into it. It was a big struggle: I know what I want to do, but how do I get paid to do it?
My first farm job was at a farm as the driver for the farmers’ markets. I would set up the stands with the farm’s produce.
I was working seasonally on cannabis farms up north in California, and doing day labor on garlic and potato farms. I was part of this hippy scene, where you just worked the farms that were around. Then I got attached to one particular farm and I worked for them for 5 years – it was an integrated cannabis and veggie farm, with chickens and sheep.
At another point, I was a sheep herder, for a private farm with a 30 sheep flock.
Honestly at the meat and veggie farms I worked at – the actual money came from the cannabis.
I don’t smoke weed and I don’t care about weed… it’s just easy to get hired.
I desperately miss growing food.
Most people I worked with in the triangle wished that they were growing food.
If only pumpkins would sell for $2000/lb. We could all just grow pumpkins.
When I worked in the farm country that grew weed, everyone just wanted to be doing more. My boss was trying really hard to intercrop blueberries with cannabis – even hiring scientists to learn.
There is so much money in it (weed), you can afford these vanity projects.
I worked for my boss for 5 years in CA and I don’t own any of his land and I’m never going to.
It made me realize that you should never put your love and passion into another man’s land.
When I worked in central California at a food and meat farm, what I saw there was sort of my standard. The owners worked so hard to maximize their profits not so much so they could give people pay increases, but at the very least – bonuses and stability of employment.
The owner of the farm was out there picking veggies at 4 am. They were passionate about working harder and smarter for us. and they helped a lot of employees gain permanent citizenship. They provided the best housing they could and built better housing if they couldn’t. They worked so hard. They were not just a landowner doing a favor by giving you this job.
They were making the best decisions and realizing the impact their decisions make on the workers.
It’s a gold standard.
They were well loved for a reason. I would work there again in another life where I lived in California again.