You should live on a farm 

Farming provides perspective on the hard work that goes into stocking grocery stores and markets. Farming can teach valuable skills and life lessons. Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash.

I graduate next spring and I’m already reminiscing about leaving the farm I’ve called home this past year and a half. 

OK, I know my friends tease me on the daily for how much I talk about the farm. It’s definitely my biggest personality trait and here I am writing an entire article about it. But I need this printed on paper. I have endless gratitude toward the University of Connecticut’s Spring Valley Student Farm: a little pocket of UConn that has radically transformed my life.  

For some context, Spring Valley is a student-run farm a few miles off campus where I live with 10 other students/farmers. We cultivate the land in our backyard, grow vegetables and flowers and provide the produce for some of UConn’s dining halls and the farmer’s market we host in the fall, in front of Homer Babbidge.  

This past fall my Fridays looked a little like this: Wake up, go outside and harvest flowers with other farmers, arrange bouquets, drive to campus and sell the bouquets to students. Walking around campus and seeing students carry them around and hearing how they were for someone’s girlfriend, mother or a treat for themselves, I was reminded about the power of community and supporting local farms.  

Imagining life post-graduation, I really have no clue what it’s going to look like. I have bits of what I know I will have: friends nearby, books on my nightstand, a job revolving around the environment in one way or another. One of the most important parts of my life that I will take with me from college to post-grad is the need to get my hands dirty. Farms will always, or at least for as long my body allows, play an integral role in my life.  

It’s why I need to bring some of this with me after graduating. Some days when the stresses of life seem to weigh heavier than normal and I need something to bear the weight for me, I take to the fields. Knees pressed in soil, hands pulling at weeds, there is nothing more therapeutic than tapping in like that.  

It’s why I urge everyone and anyone who is physically capable to get involved with their local farms. Whether it be through paid labor or volunteer work, it’s refreshing for the mind, body and soul to immerse yourself in farm work.  

I know of a program that offers similar opportunities to Spring Valley outside of a university setting: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). In exchange for free housing and often a meal or two a day, people can farm and learn about sustainable agriculture.  

Come next fall, I plan on WWOOFing in California for a few months. So I know for at least a little bit I can count on having this sort of opportunity available to me. But what about for people who aren’t in a spot in their life where they can just uproot like that? Back home, at the farm I worked at for a few years, we appreciated volunteer work immensely. Often, small farms don’t have the funds or resources to pay for the ideal amount of help it takes to run a sustainable farm. When community members would generously donate their time, we appreciated it more than we could express. 

My gratitude for the role farms play in my life is endless. I don’t know the sort of person I would be without my time laughing with friends in the fields, or sharing some of our hardest times with each other when the only other listeners were the bees and trees.  

I hope to pursue farm work, in one aspect or another, for the next few years of my life. At least. I strongly encourage anyone who has even the faintest of desires to get involved with community farm work to do it. Jump in. Head first. Get dirty. 

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