Howdy, all! Wow – I sure took my time getting this hello up here on our website. But I took my time getting to the farm too, so perhaps it’s fitting.
Back in college, I sure didn’t anticipate I’d spend my late 20s sorting sweet peppers, getting kicked regularly by 150-pound Katahdin ewes, and dreaming about beet varieties and diesel engines! I studied Latin American history and culture at the University of Pittsburgh, concentrating on preparing for a career in public service. And before I came to Wheatland, that’s what I did: I spent a year as an early childhood literacy worker, and another year teaching preschool. I then spent four years in the Fourth World Movement volunteer corps in New York City, where I coordinated a children’s network linking kids from many backgrounds and helped support the amazing families who were part of our organization.
I loved that work deeply, and miss being a daily part of that community of people. But in late 2005, I made the decision to take some sabbatical time to work on a farm or two. I wanted some more time outside, and the chance to get strong and learn some hard skills. I was also curious to know if the kind of work I’d been doing might intersect with farm work in some way.
After helping out at some small family farms in France and Ireland in the first half of 2006, I found myself working for the Plancks at Wheatland. I was surprised how readily I adapted to the rhythms and demands of a farm workday. I was not surprised to learn I loved selling our produce at farmers markets as much as I’d enjoyed being on the other side of the table as a customer in New York! Farmers markets tend to pulse with a festive, can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-my-kitchen energy. I love that. And food is, I believe, a great instigator. We stand in front of someone else with a juicy pink Brandywine tomato. Or a casserole steamy with homemade mac & cheese. Or a big bag of Doritos, for that matter. We hold this food in our hands and somehow we’re primed to begin sharing our stories. This is true for all of us in some way, I think. I love that most of all.
(I also – ahem! – met myself a farmer along the way. He’s pretty cool. We’re getting married in May.)
And so I decided to stick around! In 2007 I worked for the affable-as-all-get-out Pritchard family at Smith Meadows, a livestock farm not farm from here where sheep, cattle, hogs, chickens, and the occasional Thanksgiving turkey pass their days grazing on lush grass and dozing in the shade of old apple trees. The Pritchards sell their meat at many DC-area markets, and I can’t recommend them enough.
2008 is the first year that Ali and I are business partners. We’re both so excited that the new season is upon us. I spend a lot of time dreaming about the farm as a place to build community – we’ll share some of that along the way here at the farm blog.
If you missed it, be sure to read about Ali’s path to farmerhood … right here.
(p.s. I’ve got a camera in my pocket pretty much all the time. We’ll try to post regular updates with news and photos from the farm. Let us know what you think!)