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Red Wagon Organic Farm
I just got offered (and accepted) a full-time job as a farm hand at Red Wagon Organic Farm.

Who knew?  When I was a kid, I never liked helping my mom in her veggie garden (I blame the Michigan mosquitoes for that), though I did always love to eat peas fresh from the vine. 

Then, when I was 20, I was a guest at an off-grid organic (& bio-dynamic) farm.  When I ate freshly picked herbs from that land, I could feel their life force radiate into my veins.  I know that sounds strange, but there's an incredible difference between fresh, local, lovingly-grown food and trucked-in, several-week-old produce from the grocery store. 

Since then, I've become passionate about local food

Well... I'm going to be a farmer.
I recently posted an excerpt from my application to live and work on an organic farm -  I wrote: "I crave... the connection to the land that farming creates.  I’m called to simplify my focus and lifestyle - I want to sweat and get my hands dirty, to build a stronger community through shared work, and to learn the skills needed to better serve my planet."  Since then, I accepted full-time work at a local, organic vegetable farm (pictured above).  

Though the sheer physical endurance of farming intimidates me (8-10 hours of field labor a day, 5 days a week), I am drawn to the Earth.  Farming is a way for me to learn, contribute, and ground my airy nature.  It will also be a good reality check for me - am I really cut out to live on a working homestead with self-sufficient food production?  Considering those are my and Morgan's current plans, it'll be good for me to actually experience the daily realities of farm life.

Since you probably aren't going to commit to work as a full-time farm hand, here are some ways you can get involved with your local farms:
  1. Join a CSA.  Community Share Agriculture is, essentially, buying stock in a local farm - you pay an upfront fee (or several installations), the farm uses this money for its production needs, and you get weekly/biweekly deliveries of fresh, local vegetables (or fruit, eggs, dairy, meat...).  The variety is great, you eat seasonally, and you build relationships with your local farmers.
  2. Volunteer at a farm.  Many farms allow volunteers, and some do volunteer-for-veggies work trades.  Volunteering with your family, and especially your kids, is a great way to connect to your family, your community, and the land.
  3. Buy & eat local food.  If you have access to a farmers' market or local foods co-op, excellent!  Shop there.  If not, many grocery stores (especially Whole Foods and other natural foods stores) display "I'm a local!" badges on local foods - look for those products.  Eating locally is do-able, even in the winter.
  4. Donate to support local farms.  If you'd rather buy out-of-season produce, or have a specific non-local brand that you love, you can still speak with your dollars.  Local farms can use as much support as possible, so do a little research, maybe some farm visits, and become a fairy god-mother (a fairy farm-mother?... farmy god-mother? oh dear).  

I'll keep you all updated as the growing season progresses - expect a lot more farm-related posts!

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3/22/2012 02:39:21 am

Anna,
I never thought about volunteering for food at a farm. What a great idea! I have considered that it would be nice if a farm let me work for them, but I just figured I was too much of a rookie and wouldn't have enough to offer. Hmmm. Things to ponder.

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3/22/2012 02:40:13 am

Oh, and thanks so much for linking my article to yours!

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9/29/2013 09:25:39 pm

Community Share Agriculture is, essentially, buying stock in a local farm - you pay an upfront fee (or several installations), the farm uses this money for its production needs, and you get weekly/biweekly deliveries of fresh, local vegetables (or fruit, eggs, dairy, meat...).

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1/31/2014 01:58:18 pm

A good way to prioritize your time is to separate work into 3 piles: A, B, and C. "A" tasks are high priority-must be done ASAP. "B" tasks are important, and must completed within the short term.

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