I love farming.
There are many reasons to love farming, the serenity of a quiet farm, the animals, the thrill of seeing sprouts after planting, the harvests, the seasonal book ends of tasks, even the failures can be appreciated…..in time…;-)
Personally my joy sprouts from sharing my harvest with folk, sampling the diverse dishes they prepare, but most importantly seeing the light go on in a person when they instantly become addicted to food I have grown.
Like Mc'Donalds and Marlboro, my goal is to get you hooked, younger the better; kids are the most fun to work in farming, their curiosities are genuine and their questions are always the best.
Now I am working mainly with prisoners, sometimes like kids, but still fun.
Even on the best of days farming isn't easy, but it’s still a good life.
Currently I can call myself the farm manager for Hungry Mother Organics in Carson City, Nevada. Which literally is on the eastern Sierra's and Lake Tahoe. With a great team, I am working three sites, a 5 acre organic farm, a road side farm stand/nursery, as well as a 200 acre parcel of some of the most beautiful land my feet have taken me.
The 5 acre farm.
The farm is located on a prison ran by the Nevada Department of Forestry on the outskirts of town. We employ at any given time 7-10 inmates, some veterans, and grow an array of beautiful plant starts, eggs, and veggies. Our incarcerated farm is located on the Prison Ranch which includes a dairy, wild mustang adoption program, compost company, and our humble organic acres complete with worm composting, five greenhouses as well as 600 organic dumb ass egg layers.
Our intent is to work with locals and teach them how to grow, prepare, and store tasty food. We have all the wares to start an organic garden, high tunnels for production, nursery plants, food we grow, as well as a 1/4 acre French intensive garden inspired by my time spent farming in Santa Cruz in 2009. Trails lattice our surrounding mountains while 50,000 commuters drive past our stand per day. Not to mention there is not to big of a organic or local produced scene in town.
Our Future Farm.
Next year we will be shifting much of our production to the 200 acre farm located in Dayton, NV about a 1/2 hour from the farm stand. There currently is alfalfa, 5 acres organic (cover crops), horses and cattle. The property is encircled by a stream while the Carson River courses through the heart of the property. Though we are not biodynamic we respect its approach to "intent". Our intent is to make this an agricultural wonderland for farmer veterans or any like minded folk hell bent on making the world a little tastier or beautiful than how they found it to come live, and learn.
Sounds like all the ideals why one would go into farming doesn't it?
Though there are rough days, there is no place in the world, nor thing I would rather be doing in my life.
In a nutshell,
Now my life is to farm, enjoy food, play music, mountain bike religiously, and enjoy each passing day. Its been a long omnivore's odyssey to learn about food production, food security and how to best help train a new generation of farmers homegrown from veterans.
But what I have seen, done, and left for another location to learn all over again has been an education of a lifetime.
I won't lie, it wasn't easy getting to this point it took ridding myself of nearly all earthly possessions and setting my trail to an unknown destination. The first of stops was in the bush of Niger, West Africa.
While in Niger, I served with the FVC's founding veteran Matt McCue, after we both returned from the Peace Corps he took to farming, myself I continued my wayfaring ways and traveled countless times across the country. I charged Capital Hill, enjoyed 2 Farm Aids, and spent numerous nights for food film screenings, speaking engagements, or simply to play music with new friends. A well spent trip to learn food production ranging from northern Vermont to Southern Baja Mexico.
I have what my mother describes as "Chronic Volunteerism"
During high school I enlisted to serve in the Army Reserves and continued on through college as a medic; in the emergency rooms. My patients, primarily homeless, were veterans ranging from WWII all the way up to conflicts reaching up to my departure in May 2001.
Of the many things learned, the most important for veterans I took away was the need for a place to decompress and a chance to seek opportunity after service.
I cannot speak on behalf of a combat veteran but personally readjustment was very difficult after the Peace Corps. Luckily, working as a volunteer with the FVC was a full time endeavor that enabled me to expand my passion for farming, learn many new techniques of farming and taking my time to readjust.
Now I am farming in Nevada, who knows for how long. But what I intend to do is work diligently, treat others with respect and do my best to make my time here an effort to make the world a little more beautiful and tasty.