Cristina, Petani Muda dari New York, AS

Aku menanam, menulis, dan terobsesi dengan segala hal tentang Itali. Begitulah caraku memperkenalkan diri. Di Itali aku belajar literatur Italia, lalu ‘terjebak’ pada kesibukan bersama Slow Food (bercocok tanam bahan pangan). Kebiasaan bercocok tanam dan berbagi bahan pangan itu terbawa saat aku kembali ke Amerika.

Senang rasanya bisa ikut berperan dalam dunia pertanian. Memberikan kebahagiaan untuk orang lain dengan berbagi bahan pangan. Memberikan kebahagiaan bagi tanah maupun hewan-hewan dan tanaman itu sendiri. Membuatku merasa telah berbuat sesuatu yang baik, meskipun kecil.

Beberapa musim belakangan aku turut bekerja di HOG Farm, Brookhaven, New York, AS. Di situ kami menanam lebih dari 100 jenis sayuran dengan metode pertanian alami. Pemilik ladang ini, Sean, adalah sarjana Cornell dan sudah menekuni pertanian selama 10 tahun. Membuatnya sangat akrab dengan tanah dan betul-betul paham tentang manajemen kesuburan tanah.

Di ladang ini, kami melakukan tes rutin setahun sekali. Kami memutar giliran jenis sayuran yang ditanam di setiap keluarga tiap tahunnya, dan menebarkan kompos kotoran kuda. Kami tanami soba di antara bedengan kentang untuk menanggulangi hama serangga. Cara yang kami gunakan mngkin terlihat kuno, tidak modern. Namun kurasa cara ini sangat nikmat dan sarat kebijaksanaan hidup.



Gaya hidup seperti ini; bekerja di ladang, menanam makanan kita sendiri, serta ikut serta dalam suatu komunitas yang saling mendukung, sangatlah berarti. Masing-masing orang punya peran terhadap apa yang tersaji di atas meja makan. Kami bekerja keras dan penuh kegembiraan. Ada ikatan yang terjalin ketika kami berkeringat di ladang setiap hari, yang kusebut dengan ‘farmily’.

Belakangan, aku berkesempatan membimbing para relawan atau pengunjung di ladang ini. Aku rutin menuliskan pengalamanku untuk Edible East End dengan seri judul; ‘Diary of an Organic Farm Apprentice’. Aku punya usaha konsultasi kecil-kecilan yang bekerja sama dengan restoran, rumah sakit, dan sekolah. Aku juga aktif memberikan pelatihan tentang berkebun kepada para pemula. Mulai dari tahap mendesain, membangun, hingga merawat kebun mereka. Sesekali aku juga mengisi kelas berkebun organik di sekolah-sekolah.

Jika kamu senang bercocok tanam, terus lakukan sebisamu. Memang berat, menantang, dan melelahkan. Tapi kerja kerasmu pasti terbayar, disadari atau tidak. Minimal aku yang akan mengapresiasi kerja kerasmu, serta kerja keras para pendahulu yang telah memberikan jalan bagi para petani di generasi kita saat ini.” [ziatuwel.com]

Artikel ini disadur dengan seijin dari fanpage facebook ‘Humans Who Grow Food’. Berikut ini artikel aslinya dalam bahasa Inggris:

Meet Cristina from Brookhaven, NY, United States πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
“In the words of my website that I will now shamelessly self promote, I farm, I write and I obsess over all things Italian. Though that is what I “do,” it is also who I am, an identity struggle I mentally grapple with regularly and am still beginning to accept. I try not to take myself too seriously, but I am very serious about my work and my work so far has been farming. The job is far from being done!
I went to Italy to study Italian literature and ended up taking a detour into Slow Food. When I moved back to the States I wanted to bring some of that philosophy home with me and sort of fell into farming.
It definitely makes me feel closer to Italy in the sense that growing and sharing food in and of itself is inherently Italian. I miss Italy like a long distance lover. But I also just love food. Working outside isn’t bad either. I also recently saw the movie Vice and the first thing I wanted to do after watching it was get farming. I think it makes me feel good to know that at the end of the day, as long as I can contribute to a farm that creates pleasure for someone or something, be it the soil, a person, or an animal, I feel like I am making a positive impact in some small way.
I spent the past few seasons working as a farm hand at The H.O.G. Farm in Brookhaven, NY, USA. We grow over 100 varieties of vegetables using natural farming methods.
Our owner Sean is too modest to admit it, but having studied at Cornell and farming for over 10 years now, he is very dialed into our soil and knowledgable about fertility management. We test our soil annually and adjust amendments accordingly. If any area is not in production, it is cover cropped. We also rotate our crops by family every year and spread horse manure. We use tools like beneficial parasitic insects and floating row covers. We plant buckwheat between potato beds to manage Colorado potato beetles, which I think is so cool.
This might sound a little backwards, but I struggle lifestyle-wise. Obviously the lifestyle of working outside, producing your own food, and being part of a supportive community is very rewarding. But as a single, first generation farmer living in one of the most expensive places in the country, it feels a little daunting sometimes. Most of us have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet and though there are affordable land leasing opportunities and generous employers, it will be a challenge to generate the start up capital necessary for a farm when just living is so costly.
The biggest reward is by far my “farmily”. I love these people. Each and every one of our crew members has taught me so much and everyone has something to bring to the table. We work really hard, but we have fun together too. There’s a bond created when you spend hours sweating and weeding together each day that can never be understated.
I have the opportunity to teach volunteers or visitors during farm tours and parties, but I’d like to do so more actively in the future. I’d really like to work with young farmers who are just starting to get involved. Never underestimate the value of a mentor. I used to regularly write a column for Edible East End called “Diary of an Organic Farm Apprentice,” which I thought was a fun way to teach people about our experience. I also used to bring my personal training clients to the farm and offer gardening advice. I have a small consulting business that works with homeowners, restaurants, a hospital and school. I design, build, and teach them how to maintain their own organic gardens. I also teach gardening classes at my local historical society and most recently spoke to a group of high school students about organic agriculture.
If you love farming, keep on doing it, in whatever capacity you can. It’s hard, can be discouraging, and I know you’re tired. But your work is appreciated, whether you are aware or not. If not by your own community (which I highly doubt!), then at least by me. I appreciate you all and I’m grateful and proud of those before me who have paved the way for our generation of farmers.”
THIS ARTICLE IS ADAPTED WITH PERMISSION FROM ‘HUMANS WHO GROW FOOD’ FACEBOOK FANPAGE.

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