Working on a sustainable farm isn’t your typical 9 to 5 gig, and I think I knew that when I applied for an open “customer service” position in April this year. When I started in May, I learned (rather gratefully) that a farm’s Customer Service Girl is not beholden to answering phones and emails all day. Things happen on farms that don’t occur in your more typical work settings (like animal escapes -pigs are especially wily and mischievous creatures), so you quickly learn to leave your cute “office” clothes in the closet and opt for a cozy pair of jeans, sturdy shoes, and a shirt you won’t mind getting horse kisses on.
Naturally, when I was asked to start doing our weekend tours, I jumped at the opportunity. I shadowed tour after tour, went through special training, scribbled and highlighted my battered notes and finally ended up scheduled to start on a Sunday afternoon. That’s when the nerves hit.
What was I doing? Tara had given my first tour and it blew my mind! What on earth was a city slicker whose career (up until very recently) focused on educating children and had absolutely nothing to do with agriculture doing talking about carbon sequestration?
I eventually channeled my inner Jedi master and reminded myself that fear is the dark side of the force.
So, come Sunday morning I strapped on my boots, swallowed my nerves, and faced a group of something like 30 people to give my very first tour of the farm. My first TWO tours of the farm, actually. And the result? Exhilarating. I’m not the orator that Tara is, nor do I quite have the self-assured swagger or easy candor of Spencer or Russel. But I realized that I had something, and that that something was passion.
I’m an unapologetic omnivore, but I believe in treating meat animals humanely, ethically, keeping them free of stress and giving them the happiest lives we can out in the fresh air and sunshine. I wouldn’t eat meat if my only choice was buying from a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) and the reasons for that are staggering. What we do here is good for the animals, good for the environment, good for our bodies and good for the local economy. Sharing what we do at Tara Firma with people has got to be one of the best things I’ve done since joining the team. Showing the next generation what a farm should look like, giving people the opportunity to meet and pet their first pigs, and proving to everyone that what we do is truly beyond organic, is a great way to spend a day at work.
So am I still nervous? Sure. I may always get a little bout of nerves before a tour. But the nerves are all worth it when I see the looks on peoples’ faces when they meet our happy, healthy animals.