This atrociously long and depressing summer, I decided to work on a farm with my best friend from home, Elaina. From March to the end of June, my family had been spending quality Covid time together in Florida, dodging the young spring breakers and older anti-maskers. After much begging and pleading on my part, I was reluctantly allowed to begin my internship at a small organic farm in Wisconsin. I say reluctantly because my mom was convinced I was entering into a cult.
Alas, it was not a cult, and looking back, those 17 days I spent at the farm might have been the best days of quarantine. I had so much fun, explored my relationship with nature, and learned an incredible amount – some of which I would love to share with you.
The first thing I would like to stress – and it’s an important one – is the significance of buying organic, locally sourced food. The owners of the farm, Rufus and Joy, live an incredibly sustainable lifestyle, one that I now strive to emulate. They taught me about the struggles of being an organic farmer in a landscape plowed for nonorganic farmers. Did you know that to be an organic farmer, you have to get certified? That means you are subjected to annual inspections and required to keep rigorous logs of everything – from how many bags of soil you use, to the nutrients you put in the soil. Conventional farmers (the ones who use harmful sprays and methods) on the other hand, have no such requirements. It’s so backwards. As University students, local and organic food is more expensive, but if you have the extra pound, I would encourage you to support the practices of organic farmers.
Secondly, I was thrown into a completely new experience and pushed out of my comfort zone, and I think it really benefited me. Elaina and I lived in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, limited service, a propane stove, an outdoor ‘shower’, and an outhouse. Besides the occasional mouse or snake, we did just fine. This might sound weird, but we both agreed that one of the best parts of the trip was showering outside. It is pretty freeing to be out and open with nature. The work during the week was really hard too, but we found it incredibly rewarding.
We worked every day with Joy and Rufus, weeding, harvesting, and packing boxes of vegetables to be sold, basically learning how a farm is run! While we worked we discussed things with them like BLM and privilege. It was really cool to get a new perspective from them on all the social issues happening today, and how they might be perceived by people in a completely different circumstance than me.
They sent us home after our time was up with some fresh vegetables and maple syrup. It was a total eye opening experience, one I would recommend if you’re up for it. If anything, I know I will never take a working indoor toilet for granted again!