Molly has been farming on farms not her own for 8 years off and on.
I worked on a farm in Maine, did farm based education in Vermont, went to grad school in Norway and worked on a bunch of different farms and WWOOFed there – a goat dairy, permaculture homesteads or small scale organic farms. I worked on a sheep farm for a lambing season, and landed up at the last farm for 3 seasons, and now I’m at a nursery .
My spirit keeps calling me back to working with the land but it hasn’t been straight forward.
I was most recently working on a farm in Vermont, but we had massive lay off in the fall – more than half of the business was laid off. That included me and my manager and a lot of our friends.
I had been living on the property in my tiny house, so I also had to move off the property and figure out what was next.
I spent the winter nannying for my sister who lives in Boston.
It was a harrowing life change with a lot of confusion in between, but I found my way back to the farm: I recently got a new job at a farm and plant nursery. They also have an herb farm and are developing some educational programming.
I see farming as a way to work in environmental and social justice in a tangible way. I also enjoy using my body and not being totally sedentary during the work day, so it’s a combination of things. Farming also improves my own access to healthy organic food because it’s something that I prioritize and it’s not always a given you can get it at the grocery store. I don’t love spending tons of money on healthy, organic food so I always appreciate having alternative ways to get it.
i HAVE A DESIRE TO LEARN ABOUT HOW TO GROW FOOD AND HOW TO BE IN CLOSER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EARTH AND BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE FOOD SYSTEM.
On one hand I do like the idea of starting my own farm and focusing on herbs and making herbal products, but on the other hand, I feel very reluctant to allow my life and my money to be contingent upon the capitalist food system.
It makes me more interested in maybe part-time starting a farm while also having other bread winning work…if I had access to land that I wasn’t going to get kicked off of – I’ve moved so much and am kind of reluctant to tend soil that I know I’m going to have to leave eventually, so that is part of the journey. Even though I always still garden where I’m living, growing perennials is a whole different thing.
I lost my home and community when I lost my job.
It’s been really unsettling and I think one thing I’m still grappling with is the kind of Buddhist idea of non-attachment.
I did feel like I was suffering and went through phases of grief after being told I wasn’t allowed to be on the property or land that I had developed, cared for and tried to improve the health of for 3 years. That felt like a very uncomfortable power dynamic and a reality check of who holds powers in this system that we’re operating in. It was hard too because I had built the tiny house in an effort to live closer to the property so I could be more available and not commute for all these reasons, but I felt as if that plan had foiled as well. With the tiny house, not being a landowner, you’re always reliant on some sort of arrangement with somebody else. Even though I had a couple offers, it’s just taken a lot of time and energy to pick up the pieces of my life that changed so drastically, losing a job and thus a place to live.
I’m trying in my own life to focus on the positive. What is the positive? Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on the positive with the situation.
It feels right to work connected to the earth, soil, plants, animals, life.
It feels right for me to spend a part of my life working with life and the forces of nature.
Other parts of my life, maybe when I’ve been more computer oriented, I’ve felt much more disconnected just from the earth. I also am pretty uncomfortable participating in the food system in which the closest grocery store to me offers carrots from California. I feel uncomfortable passively participating in that system. It feels more soul fulfilling or more socially and environmentally just to create a new system.
I admit – I have plenty of tail wind behind that is enabling me to make these decisions, but I also, especially after this latest situation, am carrying a bit of self doubt in regards to my pursuits.
Sometimes I feel sure about what I’m doing and sometimes I feel exhausted.
It feels right to be engaging in this work, but I’m still working for the way to do it that feels healthy and sustainable.
Economics comes up again.
If we all felt a bit more cared for by the government, or if we felt like our basic needs were met, people would be less afraid of engaging in this labor that is low paying or less concerned about what happens when we lose our job at the end of the farm season.
It all feels heavy and I didn’t expect to be back in the swing of it but here I am.
I’m still struggling to find a place where health and sanity, mental and physical health of the staff, is a priority, and a place that executes that effectively.
I imagine a community of people that support each other and it’s not competitive, but rather collaborative.
- Honestly when it comes to wages, I wish that farm labor would magically catapult and it could be a viable middle class option. I haven’t figured that out myself. There is a farm down the road that is operating in the gift economy. Ideally I really like the idea of aspects of society operating in the gift economy, but I’m not sold on voluntary impoverishment yet. Maybe someday I will. But maybe it’s because I’m a woman and I want to be self sufficient. I do idealize that on my dream farm – I would be able to make a normal living alongside all the other people living there.