Life Off The Farm

I am currently settling into a farm-less life.  We have both found non-ag jobs, and Round Table Farm is closed.  Travis has been hired by a functional landscaping business called Yard Farm. It’s close enough to agriculture that Travis’ abilities transfer easily, but different enough that he has the opportunity to learn new, concrete skills like construction and design and not lopping the tops off overhanging trees.

As for me, thankfully after my contract ended at Urban Roots my stint of unemployment was negligible. An Austin startup company called Key Ingredient found me through this blog and hired me to help them with blogging, social media, and outreach.  Key Ingredient runs a recipe-sharing web site of the same name, and also sells the Demy, the first kitchen-safe recipe reader. It’s a small miracle that I found an opportunity to stay involved with Austin’s food community, who are so supportive of Travis and me. I hope you all will come visit me from time to time on Key Ingredient’s blog, The Back Burner, especially while I make my first introductions to the community there. 

As you know, after a busy first season Round Table farm is on hiatus until we can find a piece of land of our own.  And just like that, farming went from completely occupying the territory of our lives to pitching a flimsy tent along the northernmost border.  Meanwhile, I’m readjusting to office work, washing my hair instead of shoving it under a Callahan’s cap, and wearing kitten heels instead of work boots. Three years ago, I was making that transition in the opposite direction.  Now, coming home in the evening clean instead of sweaty and tired feels odd (I fixed that problem, though, when I realized I could ride my bike to and from the office every day).

Of course I miss the farm work.  I miss the excitement of the new harvest.  I miss business relationships with the great chefs and restaurants in town.  I miss being part of the day.  But I am steeled in our decision.  Our new jobs are providing us the ability to be self-sufficient in the present and to save for the future.  In three years, that was not something farming ever gave us. And after three years, that had to be something we considered. Of course we needed a lot of tools that were not so much farming tools, more like easily recognisable garden tools. We put our life on hold in order to learn how to farm.  Now that we have the skills, we need to take care of ourselves while we look for land. It’s nice to be able to relax occasionally and do something simple but satisfying like mowing the lawn.

Where does that leave this blog? And more importantly, where does it leave our future in farming? Obviously, I’ll be posting fewer personal stories. But I’ll keep bringing you my perspectives on agriculture, especially as it affects new farmers.  My Young Farmer Profiles will be continuing, and I hope to branch out and profile other Austin figures central to the food movement.
Ironically, the path we have followed in pursuit of farming has led us away from agriculture altogether.  I’ve chosen to trust it and hope that if we keep putting ourselves out there, the right opportunity will come along.  Still, we have always said that if farming can’t provide us with a good life, then we just won’t do it.  Removing ourselves from farming has made us have to admit to ourselves that there is a possibility it may not work.  In the end, whatever happens, I hope our story can serve as a springboard for substantive discussions about the state of American agriculture today.

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