Becoming a Farmer

When I was a child, I imagined my adult self living on a farm ...

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At 19 during my college overseas program, I spent two weeks picking olives on Crete with my Greek host family -- olive groves mingled with orange grove and a creek trickling by -- one of my absolute favorite memories. In my late 20s, I met a remarkable couple who left the city and lived an intentional life in the French countryside who inspired me. I was also inspired by the PBS series Frontier House and the modern families who lived for six months in Montana as if it were 1883, working to grow their own food in preparation for winter. One would think I would have followed these signs pointing me to some kind of life in the countryside. Life had other plans ...

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I fell in love with photography in high school. That, coupled with my vow to never again work in an office after my high school summer job working in my dad's San Francisco office (in the Actuarial and Research Department, ugh), led me to carefully choose my career as a photojournalist -- definitely NOT in an office! 

Photojournalism gave me much of what I craved -- being active and outdoors much of the day doing something that mattered. Returning to the newspaper photo department at day's end, we developed our film and printed our photos in the darkroom. In the late 80s, Photoshop was born, and as amazing as Photoshop (and now Lightroom) is, we started sitting at computers to complete our work. Over the 20+ years since I left the newspaper world, I ran a few photography-related businesses and computers became ubiquitous. I once again found myself sitting at my desk, fantasizing about living in the countryside while working all day in my home office. The office. THE OFFICE! 

At 56, I had finally had enough. Decided to take a grown up gap year. Quit my job. Rented out my house. Went to France. Then moved across the country and started a biodynamic (BD) farming internship. 

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Whaaaaaa??!!

Yep, I did it. Finally, finally, finally I am living the life I've been dreaming of, pining for, and whining about for such a long time!

Here at the Pfeiffer Center -- the only educational biodynamic farm in the US -- I'm outside all day long, in nature, moving my body, feeding people, healing the soil, and helping the planet. The program here is super organized and well-rounded. We -- the four interns and our two teachers -- have a weekly Farm Meeting and Biodynamics Study (studying Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course, the basis for biodynamics), harvest weekly for our Farm Stand and CSA, and monthly (along with 40+ people who attend) participate in the One-Year Training which covers all the key BD components, taught by leaders in the BD movement. 

I'm learning so many things! In the six weeks I've been here, I've learned how to plant, seed, spot, transplant, water, and harvest all the different veggies and herbs, prepare raised beds for planting, prepare beds for cover crops using a rototiller (backbreaking work!), tend to the greenhouse, make compost (super gross, stinky food scraps teeming with maggots transform in to healthy, vibrant soil), make/stir/apply/spray the BD preps, work with bees, and groom horses including picking their hooves (terrifying at first), move the electric fence, and more ... and then there's the interminable weeding! 

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My wise, gentle, funny, kind teachers Mac Mead and Megan Durney somehow manage to field all our questions while still leading us to get all our work done. And my fellow interns Jeff, Christian, and Dylan supply the heavy lifting, and songs and jokes while we work. 

This farming life is busy! And also balanced, and healthy. At the end of the summer, we hosted a two-week Farm and Garden Camp for 60 children, teaching them how to do *all the things* culminating with a salad and pizza party using veggies the children harvested and our garden bread oven.

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We interns attended the Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference in Amherst, MA, where we heard Dr. Don Huber speak on the health issues stemming from glyphosate (the active ingredient used in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup) used in GMO and non-organic agriculture. And we have toured farms in the area to see how and why others do what they do. 

We're up and at 'em at 7am (6am on Thursday -- Farm Stand day) for a quick planning session, then out to the garden and fields we go. Working with the plants, surrounded by forest, listening to the birdsong and the neighbor's rooster crow, watching the sun rise, seeing the bees as it warms ... Many mornings I have been moved to tears taking in the beauty of it all. I am finally becoming a farmer.

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