20 May Meet our apprentices: Rebecca Metcalf
Rebecca Metcalf, our second featured apprentice, joined the farm at the beginning of April with her partner Bob. Her steady, willing presence, laid-back attitude, and the unique life perspective she brings, is all such a wonderful addition to Blooming Glen. When she’s not here working hard at the farm, you’ll also see Rebecca’s smiling face at our booth at the Saturday Easton Farmer’s market.
Some of my earliest memories are of going to my grandmothers’ houses and learning to string green beans in the kitchen or to find the strawberries that were ripe enough to pick in the field. The hardest part was not eating them all before I got them back to the house. I was born into a family of tobacco farmers and vegetable gardeners in Lexington, Kentucky. So, farming is something that feels familiar to me. Yet, by age six my parents moved away from farming and into a more suburban life. I still visited my grandparents’ farms as I grew up, but lost the close connection to growing food that I had started to develop as a young child.
Until recently, I hadn’t thought too much about becoming a farmer. I’ve dabbled in other areas, such as hairstyling for a few years and then moving on to work in the social service arena. During these years I was a supporter of local agriculture in and around Louisville, Kentucky, where I lived. I bought CSA shares and frequented farmer’s markets and I even tried my hand at backyard gardening. But, I never dreamed I would find myself as a full time farmer at this point in my life.
Life drastically changed course, though, when my partner Bob (who is farming at Blooming Glen with me) and I decided to save up money and take a year off to travel the Americas. We both love experiencing new places and cultures and wanted to embark on an adventure together. So we sold most of the things we had accumulated in our twenties and hit the road in January of 2012. We headed out on our motorcycle loaded down with all the belongings we would have for the next year. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure.
The things that really struck us during our travels were how little we really needed to live on and how far away from our food sources we had been while living in the U.S. I still miss being able to run down the street, in almost any city we visited, to grab a few fresh vegetables from the corner store. They were like micro-farmer’s markets where you could get whatever you needed to cook a healthy meal without having to leave the block. We also knew where the food was coming from because we could see it being transported straight into town from the outlying farms. The huge box grocery store was virtually non-existent during our travels. And, we came to appreciate that change in a profound way.
When we returned to the U.S. we knew that we didn’t want to fall back into a lifestyle that was absent of this connection to food. We also wanted to find a way to acclimate back into U.S. culture without being bombarded by the parts we weren’t so fond of upon returning. So, we decided that working hard, getting our hands dirty and connecting to a movement that we already believed in would be a kind of therapy for our new found state of culture shock in our own home country.
That’s how we landed at Blooming Glen Farm. As a first year farmer there are quite a lot of exciting discoveries that come along with learning a new skill. Major sources of inspiration for me so far include: seeing a flat of seeds that I’ve sown begin to sprout its first seedlings, the realization of just how many people we are going to feed with our vegetables when the weekly market harvest is accumulated, and seeing the excitement in our customers’ faces at being able to buy fresh, nourishing vegetables from our stand. Working the outdoor market has been one of the best ways to reconnect to our travels for me so far, as it was more of the norm for food buying in the countries we visited.
I’m still awaiting the harvest of those nostalgic vegetables from childhood, though I expect to display a bit more self-control in the strawberry patch than I did at age five. I can already feel my connection to food growing and I look forward to all the opportunities for learning that lay ahead. As this new adventure unfolds, I can’t wait to see (and taste!) all that the season has in store.
Text by Rebecca Metcalf, photos provided by Rebecca.