Folk Fibers Blog


    Working on a farm is not romantic. 
    The work is humbling, but the rewards are virtuous.

    I swapped stories the other day with Kim, one of my farm friends.  I opened up the conversation with the question,  "what was an early farm experience that confirmed your love for working on a farm"

    Kim said her first farm job was in Newark (outside of Rochester) New York at a farm called Peacework. On her first day she was assigned to do some transplanting in the greenhouse.  She had a lot going through her mind and was nervous that her speed and technique may not be up to par for the head Farmer.  She was left alone for a little while and concentrated on her work in hopes that she was doing it the right way, or the way that her farm boss would approve of.  She grew nervous when her boss returned to the greenhouse.  She was expecting to get a critique or hear a suggestion for improvement, but no.  Her boss popped in and exclaimed, it stopped raining! I'm going to go look for rainbows do you want to join me!  Kim exhaled and was more than relieved to hear those magical words.  She said from that moment on she knew she was where she was suppose to be. 

    I entered into farming through shopping at the Clark Park Farmers Market in west Philadelphia.  Looking back, I realize I was accustom to shopping at farmers markets because of Dads fondness for them.  I approached the Urban Girls Farm booth in need of some veggies and I made the usual small talk, only to realize it was actually big talk, and lead me to my first farm job.  My first time out to the Urban Girls Farm was everything I expected and more!  It felt far from “urban”, located in NW Philadelphia in the Roxborough neighborhood, and nestled peacefully inside The Schuylkill Center.  There was a gravel road and everything!  I parked my car at the bottom of a long dirt driveway, and walked through the woods up a hollowed out path to the 3 acre farm.  I wrestled with the deer fence and continued up to the packing shed in the middle of the field.  I put my water in a shady spot and gazed over the sweetest farm my eyes have ever seen.  I saw a straw hat bobbing up and down in a thick row of beets and made my way over to Gina, the owner of the farm.  She looked like a pro farmer with long sleeves and long pants entirely covered in dirt.  Gina was wise, never let the sun get the best of her skin, being in her early 40's but looking a good 10 years younger.  A quick handshake and she was back down on her knees methodically weeding the row of beets.  I jumped right in and we started talking.  She corrected my greenhorn weeding techniques, and shared some of her knowledge from growing up on her grandparents New Jersey farm.  I was there to learn and when she started talking I knew had found my first farming mentor.  We shuffled down the rows for hours weeding and talking.  There wasn't a doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to be, in a lush field full of fruits and vegetables, surrounded by hundreds of wooded acres thick with wildlife.  I couldn't believe I was still in the Philadelphia city limits!  It was a slice of heaven.  When I thought it couldn't get any better, I noticed a straw hat emerging from the tall rows of peas,  I watched as the figure came into view, and to my surprise it was a girl about my age caring a woven basket, completely topless!  I couldn't believe my eyes!  I was many rows away looking busy, and feeling bashful.  Trying not to sound too shocked, I asked Gina about the other girl without mentioning the obvious, her bare breasts.  Gina looked over and unfazed by the spectacle said, oh that's Mildred she works on the farm.  That was it.  Minutes passed and she added, I tell her she is crazy for taking off her shirt, she will get sunburnt, plus there is no telling when Dennis will come by to say hello. My world exploded right then, and that is when I knew I would like working there.  I felt free as the birds. I ended up learning a lot on that farm, and showed my appreciation by working hard and staying positive. I tried the topless thing once or twice, but I learned that I preferred to wear a shirt at work.  It in fact does protect the skin from the sun, but it also wicks away the sweat that otherwise drips down your back. 

    I could share a lot of other not so magical stories that would end up being not so short and sweet.  But I enjoy sharing the nice little stories to carry around and reminded each other of what brought us here in the first place.


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    • Nicole says...

      I very much enjoyed this story! I could visualize the whole bit!

      On February 29, 2012

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