I admit it, I'm not a spontaneous person. It's been over 10 years since I first entertained the idea of starting a farm. I fell in love with farming while working as an apprentice on a 3 acre, organic veggie CSA in Rhode Island. Being outside was invigorating, learning to drive the tractors was empowering, and most of all looking back at the accomplishments of the day bred a satisfaction I didn't often find in other types of work. But I also witnessed some hard truths about agriculture: the long hours for little pay that could be undone by the whim of the weather. I met many farmers who loved their work, but estimated that they earned less than $5/hour-- some even less than $2-- for a career that involved not only hard labor, but also a sophisticated understanding of ecosystem science, a sharp business sense and a relentless ability to problem solve.
I spent the next decade pursuing other ways to make a living-- I worked for non-profits and universities, doing what I could to improve life for farmers, educate the public and encourage sustainable practices. I honed a different skill set, and I find my work in these fields deeply rewarding. Yet, I've never been able to fully shake the desire to run my own farm, my own business, and the idea took hold vigorously, while studying for my masters degree. I spent months writing a business plan, interviewing beginning farmers and researching options. But now, that I am faced with the reality of putting those plans into action, I feel terrified.
Enter: Dave. Fortunately, my husband is more prone to action than I am. He also has spent over 15 years running his own business. His advice: just start. Make mistakes. Move forward. Today, I'm going for it. My first act is planting garlic, digging beds with hand tools. It feels great.
There's a long way to go, and the skeptical part of my mind looks at the work I did this afternoon and wonders if, in fact, I have just dug nothing more than a long shallow grave. But that's just it, right? I'll never know the answers to my doubts, if I don't take a risk. I'll keep making my spreadsheets in an attempt to analyze the future, but I'm also going to start making mistakes faster.
I'm not sure where this project will take me, but I know that I love the work.