I have always been an experiential learner, and being able to put together a curriculum for myself for a few months to explore and practice different forms of agriculture while speaking to farmers, chefs, and activists in the food system was a wonderful experience made possible through the ELOA grant.
My home base throughout the summer was in Jacksonville, Vermont where my dear friend Celia Feal-Staub and her family were growing food on their land for the first time.
I was also able to take short trips around the North East and host conversations with various interesting people and organizations that will be featured in my food and farming podcast such as:
Putney, VT: The Putney School / Elm Lea Farm
Chautauqua, NY: Hickory Hurst Farm and Chautauqua Institution Gardeners
Damariscotta, Maine: River House Maine
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Mycofest: Mycology and Arts Festival
Interviewing was an integral part of my experience and a tangible skill I sharpened. By practicing it constantly I built up my confidence and was able to record very organic conversations. The questions I consistently asked my interviewees were:
What is your relationship with food?
What is your relationship with where your food comes from?
My equipment consisted of my phone, a Shure microphone and a hard drive.
The microphone plugs into my phone and records excellent quality and was small enough to be non intrusive. Since I knew time was valuable to these farmers and, I was able to record while working the land which really added to the experience. In one case I recorded while we were picking raspberries for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in another case we were harvesting a field of rye with scythes!
Hands on farm work
In almost three months I was able to have experiences working in a USDA Certified Organic Farm, an Educational Farm, a medium scale home garden with livestock, and a garden on soil that had never been worked previously.
From here on
I am now processing the interviews, editing them and will soon publish them on Apple podcasts! I’m also excited for two audio journalism classes I’ll be taking this Fall. Continuing these conversations and this type of work is very important to me and I’ve set up a few interviews back in NYC already.
A few of the books I read this summer worth looking into:
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore – Elizabeth Rush
Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food – Dan Barber
Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World – Michael Pollan
Secrets of the Soil: A Fascinating Account of Recent Breakthroughs-Scientific and Spiritual- That Can Save Your Garden or Farm- Christopher Bird and Peter Tompkins
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge – Terence Mackenna
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants – Robin Wall Kimmerer
I am extremely grateful for the people that took the time to share their knowledge with me and I am very excited to be able to highlight them in the podcast!