Putting my money where my mouth is: Alice goes off to a farm
After hella days dreaming and scheming (and planning and saving) about how to spend more time working with my hands and less time sitting at a computer, I have made the leap: I left my job and will be embarking on a series of short term internships to see what part of agriculture and food production is the best fit for my interests. My first internship is at a small raw milk goat dairy in Washington State.
I feel like this:
I will remain based out of our lovely mini-farm in the city (so, so mini), returning to town every four weeks for the first year. Once I decide what I want to focus on (veggie production, dairy, livestock, value-added products), I will look for full-season training opportunities.
I’ll post more once I get to the site and dig in. I will be there during the beginning of kidding season – perhaps my doula training will finally come in handy. Getting to be an assistant midwife to mini goats (did I mention they’re Nigerian Dwarves?) sounds like a fantasy summer camp, but with relatively more placenta and castration. I’ll let you know how the reality compares.
Finding internships that will take someone on for 4 weeks or less hasn’t been easy. Most farms want to train one person who will work for them for nine months, rather than train nine people who will stay one month – and I can’t say I blame them. It takes a lot of work to train new volunteers or employees, and I am grateful to the operations that will take me on. I have been looking at internship postings on ATTRA, WWOOF, and Good Food Jobs for inspiration and opportunities. This type of search must have been so much harder before the internet…
I have been incredibly lucky to have a supportive and flexible workplace for the last two and a half years, and I am already missing all my lovely coworkers. I gained practical skills in purchasing, bookkeeping, and working with a team that I know will be great to draw from when starting my own food/land venture down the road. I also know better what I want more of (a good team) and what I want less of (redundant paperwork). That being said, it is a goal of mine going forward to not do more than 4 hours of computer work a day.
I’ll be honest – I’m both bouncing-off-the-walls excited about this, and scared spitless. It’s hard to get into agriculture when your family doesn’t have land. It’s hard to start a food business. Period. Any sort of long term success takes dedication and will-power, and a not inconsiderable dose of randomness.
I am not interested in dwelling on all the reasons this might be hard, though. I want a change, have been working towards this change, and all I can do is go for it, so that’s what I’m doing. No other way to get there. I have an incredible partner who supports me in so many ways, and a wonderful set of family and friends who are there for me as I make this leap, and I am so grateful to them.
Here I go!