When I mention that this summer I will work at sustainable Brooklands Farm in Ontario, Canada, there is normally a few moments of stunned silence, followed by: “Why?” Why would I want to spend my summer planting, weeding, and harvesting, caring for chickens, and providing fresh produce to families and chefs?
Farming is hard work, despite picturesque organic ads and articles. It involves waking up early, spending hours bent over tending crops in the sun, and few days off (no matter the heat, wind, or rain). And yet, it excites me. As a student living in the city, I have grown lazy. I occasionally lack motivation to go to the supermarket, let alone to grow my own produce. I feel, probably like many of you, that I have been disconnected from the land, from my food, and from my upbringing (I grew up in Iowa, surrounded by farmers). I did’nt always feel lazy and disconnected. I hope that a few months of farming will reinvigorate my childhood passion. I also want to understand all this hype around sustainable farming. I am inundated with stories of DIY-ers returning to the land; businesspeople leaving their jobs to raise sheep or grow grapes. They seem happy, but is it all that it’s chalked up to be? I want to find out.
While farming is laborious, it is exceptionally rewarding – from the actual crops harvested, to the joy of distributing those crops to others and teaching them about how their food was produced. In the past few years I have dipped my toes in the world of farm-to-table eating, sustainable growing, and the like. Now, it’s time for me to throw myself in head-first, and what better way to do so than spending my summer on a farm, where the process begins?
I expect this experience to be life changing. I hope I will enjoy it, but I’m sure that some days it will be challenging. To guide my experience and keep my expectations in check, I have established the following goals:
1. Reconnect with the joy of physical activity (aka: stop being lazy).
2. Understand the challenges farmers face, especially small scale sustainable farmers, and learn how they cope with these obstacles.
3. Connect with the customers – both home cooks and chefs – to understand their commitment to local food.
4. Learn as many new (cooking) skills as possible – all of which I hope to share with you!
Follow my posts every other week for reflections, insights, recipes, and interviews about life on a sustainable farm.
Alexis ZK is pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture and local food by spending the summer working on a sustainable farm in Ontario, Canada. During the school year, she studies French and Food Studies at NYU, and fulfills her addiction to farmers markets. Follow her internship.