so you want to work on a farm?
This post is written by 18-year-old intern, AB.
Imagine this: 90°, 2,000 yard field, weeds up to your hips, 2 hours of listening to the Big Friendly Giant while ripping plants from the ground.
This scenario was my norm for the past 3 summers including this summer. I started working on Spring Ledge Farm, a local plant farm in New London, New Hampshire, in 2017 and to say the least: it changed my life.
Every morning, I wake up at 6:30, eat a quick breakfast, and hop into my grandmothers beat up Toyota Camry to travel the 2 miles to work. I work from 7:00 to 3:30 every day, 5 days a week doing everything from picking strawberries, trudging through spiky squash and zucchini plants, weeding fields, cleaning tomato houses, and rock picking (literally picking up rocks and throwing them- magical right?).
Every plant you could ever imagine, we pick. Do you want some kohlrabbi, pak choi, green peppers, or a nice bunch of dill? We got you covered! My personal favorite is basil. There’s nothing quite as comforting as the smell of basil, unexplainable and intangible anywhere else.
Now don’t worry, I’m not crazy enough to say that I love manual labor. To be honest, I wanted the money and practically despised the work, but these days when I find myself harried from a long day of work, I always turn back to the people I met along the way.
In Dallas, I live a sheltered life; I talk to the same people and go to the same places every day. New London, New Hampshire is not Dallas, Texas.
The people I’ve worked with the past three years certainly changed my perspective on the world. They showed me situations and views I never even imagined existed—a retired veteran who expressed her strong opinions in every situation, a valedictorian who knew everything about plants, a girl who ran away from her family, and a passionate 20 year old already working towards her doctorate in woman’s studies.
From them, I’ve learned to stand up for myself, more varieties of lettuce than you could even imagine (Have you ever heard of flashy trout?), and one of the more important lessons: a complete life does not mean going from school to school trying find the life that society deems normal.
It may seem naïve, but I always believed that the only logical and acceptable step after high school was college, then a well-paying job, then settling down, and you know the rest. But in reality my life does not have to follow any course or path. Instead, I’d like to think I
I’ll meander and sashay my way through life on a most serpentine path. Who knows maybe you’ll find me on the Maine coast lobstering in 10 years!
I think going into my senior year of high school I’m finally growing out of thinking a doctor, lawyer, or President of the United States are the only things I can answer to the dreaded question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Meeting countless new people while my shoulders turned as red as the strawberries I was picking allowed me to discover this critical fact.
In conclusion, I couldn’t even fathom learning any of these ideals in my prep school classroom and I wouldn’t change how I learned them for the world, despite my hatred of the smell of rotting and moldy tomatoes.