Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Why We Farm: Time Management

Two years ago, my husband Travis and I decided we wanted to be organic farmers. Neither of us had a background in agriculture. In fact, I was probably about as disconnected from physical labor as you can get — I was pursuing my PhD. This weekly series will take you through Travis’ and my journey to own and operate our own organic farm. From a farm internship in a tiny New York town, to management positions at the largest CSA farm in the southern United States, and now our current project of running a one-acre farm in Austin, Texas, our experience has been filled with wild successes, sharp disappointments, and self-discovery. I hope our story can provide others with ideas and resources for their own farming projects–urban or rural, big or small, hobby or professional. I also hope it can shine some light on the new organic movement surging in urban spaces and among America’s young people. To me, our collective attempt to reconnect with food is a testament to the ability of youth to create, even in difficult times.

 

In our field is everything from broccoli to peppers, and now we’re just trying to keep everything watered and happy until it’s ready to harvest.  Speaking of harvest, we’ve already harvested nearly 50 pounds of our summer squash.  We’re growing two varieties: Magda and Eight Ball, which looks like this:

Between planting, harvesting, delivering our produce to restaurants, and constantly watering our field (since we’re experiencing yet another drought here in Austin), working full time on farms plus running a tiny farm of our own is becoming an impressive little juggling act for Travis and me.  Take yesterday, for instance.  On Mondays I don’t work a full day at Urban Roots, I just water the fields and donate leftover produce to hunger relief efforts in town.  So when I can, I schedule orders for Round Table Farm on Mondays.  This particular Monday was pretty nonstop.  Let me share.

6:30am: Woke up and ate breakfast w/ lots of coffee
7:30am: Left for Urban Roots
8:00am-12pm: Fertigated and watered at Urban Roots; Left for Round Table Farm
12:15-1:15pm: Harvested 20# carrots and 25# of squash for order
1:15pm: Printed out invoice and left to deliver produce
1:20pm: Shoved peanut butter sandwich in face
2:00pm: Dropped off produce; headed back to Urban Roots
2:30pm: Boxed up beets and spinach for donation
3:00pm: Stopped by Round Table Farm to fix irrigation and water greenhouse
3:30pm: Delivered produce for donation
4:30pm: Back to Round Table Farm again to plant eggplant with Travis
6:00pm: Stopped by Urban Roots on the way home for final irrigation fix
7:30pm: Got home; ate leftover mustard greens; collapsed.

It felt a little like that scene toward the end of Goodfellas when Ray Liota is narrating his to-do list … only without the cocaine.  Travis and I are on a small enough scale right now that we can make it work, but how can we expand our own farming operation while continuing to work as farm workers?  It’s becoming clear that if we farm all day for income, then farm all night for our own startup business, we’ll burn out faster than you can say “certified organic.”  So if we want to become farmers, we’re going to have to quit our jobs as farm workers first.  A little ironic, don’t you think?

An order of squash blossoms

Either way, making inroads into Austin’s food community and selling produce under my personal brand is about as good as it gets right now.

Neysa is currently farming an acre of organic vegetables in Austin, Texas. For updates on her farm, visit www.dissertationtodirt.com or follow her on twitter @farmerneysa

3 Responses to “Why We Farm: Time Management”

  1. donna salvini Says:

    would you ever consider bringing on another worker/investor? I am an art director living in La and an organic gardener. I am so ready to farm and get out of here!!!!!

  2. Love your blog!
    Blessings, Debra
    Healthy Eating Family Style

  3. Donna, bringing on a worker is still well in the future! But I hope you ind a way to get your hands in the dirt somehow.

    Thanks, Debra, so glad you are enjoying it =)

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