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Mika Hunter

Experiential Learning

Agroecology On-Farm Internship

This summer allowed me to see what occurs on a farm everyday and allowed me to observe the thought processes, emotion, and stress that surround maintaining a successful farm operation. After interacting with a ‘real-life’ farmer, I felt naïve previously thinking it was such a carefree occupation. While working at Cedar Meadow Farm I was able to see different types of stress experienced by the different people working on the farm. Honestly, I was surprised at the amount of stress that was dealt with from day to day.

One cause of stress that surprised me was the farmer’s relationship with the weather. It seemed to me that the current weather conditions were never the ideal ones, and even when there was a weather pattern change the new weather was as insufficient as the last. Not only was there this feeling of stress and anxiety around the weather, but also sometimes it seemed as if such a weather pattern was taken personally. And by personally I do not mean as if the farmers thought they were a victim of such weather, but as if they had personally failed the farm in some way, like there was something more they could have done to manage the situation better. For an aspect of farming that can only be predicted to a certain degree I found this feeling futile.

Most farmers are farmers because farming is what they love to do. Unfortunately, most of the time this love for their chosen occupation is not expressed as a profit or even the simple recognition that food comes from a farm. Farmers are always striving to receive a premium price for their products. And at the same time they realize that middlemen and grocery stores are getting a premium price for the products they did not produce. I think another aspect of this stress results from the fact that most farmers do not have enough time or resources to market their own product.

This experience of candid emotions felt by a farmer was an experience that I would not have had if I did not live and work on a farm for 10 weeks. And after seeing such stress and its effects on a farmer I have a new understanding of what it takes to be a successful farmer.