This is not an end of the year review. In fact, I wouldn’t have remembered that today is New Years Eve without all the whining that appeared on my facebook news feed recently <3 This is NEWS!
I’ve drawn a rough outline of the next chapter in my life, and it’s going to happen on an organic farm in central Washington. After finally breaking the news to my family, I figured it’s safe to share with the internet. Acccctually… after delivering a compelling presentation on WHY I decided to do this, I ran from the room, frantically waving my arms over my head and squealing, “OMGZZ I HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT THIS!”
And I pronounce OMGZZ exactly how it’s written.
So.. why? Let me tell you.
0. I’ve been trying to get an internship on a small organic farm for the past few years. Until now, something has always prevented me from doing so: school, job, relationship, waiting too long to apply, travel plans, etc. I moved back into my parents’ house a little over a month ago right as a giant hurricane ate my home state. This made it impossible for me to get to my job in Brooklyn for a while, which I ended up leaving anyway. I knew I was ready to leave the east coast. With no work to do or electricity to numb my brain, I
focused on obsessed over what my next adventure would be.
1. I had just finished reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and was seriously contemplating whether this was a good time in my life to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s been a while since I’ve traveled. I’ve never touched the northwest United States, but I keep hearing amazing things and have been feeling pulled in that direction recently.
2. In fact, when I returned from Perú in 2011 I almost took a farm internship in Oregon. I didn’t go because of my boyfriend. Don’t ever let a relationship interfere with your dreams, it causes many things to break.
3. When said relationship collapsed in a fiery Armageddon last year, I moved back into my parents’ house (I guess you can say this is a regular thing for me) and started going back to school to study nutrition. After one semester of memorizing information solely to regurgitate onto tests and pass VERY EXPENSIVE prerequisite classes that I could have taught myself, I concluded that the money I had saved up for Fall tuition would be better spent on renting an apartment in Brooklyn. I still believe this was a wise choice.
d. Living in NYC was an east coast overdose. I started using the term “ASAP.” wtf? I wanted to smack myself.
5. The idea of having another office job has gone from “unappealing” to “revolting” to “twitch-inducing.” During one interview, I was asked if the helper monkey-type job responsibilities sounded like something I would be interested in. In response, I very coolly stated, “Interesting is definitely not the word I would use, but I could do that.” Furthermore, I need fresh air and physical activity.
6. Believing that sticking my hands in the dirt was just as significant in studying nutrition as having my face in the books, I volunteered on an organic CSA farm in Stillwater, NJ over the summer.
For those who don’t know, community supported agriculture (CSA) is an even better way of supporting local farms than shopping at farmer’s markets. It involves purchasing a share of a farm for a particular season. The members pay up front, providing small farmers with some financial security, and then receive a portion of the farm’s harvest on a regular basis (usually weekly) throughout the season. This is wonderful because it encourages members to eat more fresh, seasonal produce that came from a local source and is probably organic. You’ll know because you can ask the farmer, face to face. In addition to supporting sustainable agriculture, CSAs reduce the need to shop at those awful, awful supermarkets where you will be tempted to buy processed junk and cheaper bio-messedwith produce that has been sprayed with who knows what and shipped in from countries where the farmers can’t afford to eat their own crops.
Volunteering on this farm was hard work, but it felt good and gave me a peace of mind I haven’t otherwise experienced since returning from my travels. It was the farm’s first season, so every day was.. a lesson. Without an irrigation system, we would fill huge jugs of water in the Paulinskill River that ran along the edge of the farm property and then water the plants by hand using empty beer cans and yogurt containers. All the other volunteers were magically fascinating and bright. It was absolutely more intellectually stimulating than most jobs I’ve had (with the exception of neuroscience research). My strength and ability was never doubted even though I was a skinny girl with no farming experience, which is always empowering and rare to encounter. The farmer, James, is a wonderful person and I would highly recommend paying him a visit at Goodness Grows!
When I explained my plans to my parents, my mother very politely implied that she thought I might be making a big mistake ::cough::totallyfreakedout::cough:: My parents, like most members of their generation, measure success by their salaries. My mom doubted that farming could be a sustainable career choice. However, I think that it’s one of the only sustainable career choices. Everyone needs food. The economy is fake and prone to collapse at the push of a button. Current industrial farming practices are destroying the earth and poor nutrition is making Americans sick with fatness. Things really need to change, and they’re already shifting in my direction. Just think of all the people who won’t know how to feed themselves when the terrorists take down the power grid? Think of all the people who don’t know what food is, or where it comes from? We must correct this!!!!!!!
Sustainable agriculture is clearly something that I care deeply about, as is nutrition. The two go hand in hand, and as of right now, I think that I can make a more significant impact in this field (ha! pun!) by studying on a farm. Will farming be my career? I can’t answer that right now. Maybe not? Maybe I’ll integrate what I learn into a more holistic nutritional healing practice? Maybe I will travel all over the world, working on farms with my cloth-diapered baby and dirty hippie life partner? Maybe I will write a book about it and move back to Brooklyn. Maybe I’ll start an urban farm/music venue/book club/yoga studio in Bushwick and keep bees on my roof? Ohhh yeah, I left a little piece of my heart in Bushwick. <3
Ooo! Ooo! That reminds me of the best part! The farm I will be interning on has BEES! Remember when I said I wanted to be a beekeeper?!?! Hey! I’m gonna do it!
I will miss Jersey a whole big lot, I’m sure. It’s funny- at no point while I was living in Brooklyn did I feel like I wasn’t still in New Jersey. I guess this is what happens when you grow up so close to NYC. I consider Manhatten, Brooklyn and Long Island to be extensions of NJ rather than NY. I KNOW MY NEW YORKER FRIENDS ARE GONNA HATE THAT!
I’m spending my last month doing the things I love the most as much as I possibly can (i.e. going to shows, hiking/trail running, and spending time with my fwiends). Just in this past year (alright, here’s your review!) I’ve met so many beautiful, interesting, and talented people. I’m so grateful to have had the pleasure of connecting with and learning from these brilliant new friends. I’m going to leave in about one month and drive to WA with one of my most favorite new friends. I’m über excited about this road trip! I’m sure it will be an excellent adventure on its own and satisfy my itch to roam before planting myself in central WA for the growing season. Let’s hang out! Even better, let’s hike and go to a show! Rawk!
EEEEEEEEEEEEE new things!