A friend from college wrote me last week. She lives in NYC, and they are thinking of leaving the big apple for the farm. She asked for advice. I thought long and hard about the very best advice I could give someone looking to make this lifestyle change. There are so many things to say. Five years into this adventure, and I feel as though I could write a book and add a chapter every month. Here is what I wrote.
1) Know who you are and why you want to do this work. Write that down, and when you get off the road, because it happens, go back and read it.
22)How do you define success is another thing to have for reference. For example, I lost every cucumber and squash I planted this year to a bug infestation. So easy to get down, but my success is not defined by how many cucumbers I bring to market.
3)Have an off farm friend or mentor to lean on.
I have been thinking about this advice, specifically about #3.
I have a friend Cathy Sullivan. Cathy has a farm 10 miles south of me in a little town called Damon, Sullivan’s Heart Happy Farm. She is an amazing lady. Her style of farming is very similar to mine and because our land is so close, we share many of the same problems and sometimes the same bounty.
One thing I know from this work is that it is very, very hard. If you try to go alone, you will fail, drown, or be blown away by much bigger competition. The only way to go the long haul is to work together towards a goal that is better, cleaner, local food.
We live in a society that values the independent soul, the self made man. However, anyone who farms knows that one man is not an island. I need the support of a pat on the back or a “hey did you think of calling that guy down the road”, or a “hey I called that guy down the road for you”.
A gentle push or a kick in the pants never hurt anyone. Advice like, “Stacey, you can’t point a gun at the crop dusters, if they fly over your property, it’s illegal.” That’s priceless.
I did not know Cathy when I bought my land, but I am so happy to know her and to work with her. Find a friend and let them know how important they are to your work, your life, your family. Share that today.