Daniel and I have both been fortunate to have experienced several “new beginnings.” We have both moved around, had different jobs and volunteer positions, meet new people, and discovered a lot about ourselves and what is important to us which is how we have come to create Truffula Farm…the newest of our new beginnings.
Over three years ago, Daniel and I both found a new beginning at Overlook Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts. Daniel came to Overlook after a one year Americorps job working as a cook in a homeless shelter in Alamosa, Colorodo. I was working as a waitress in Madison, Wisconsin, lamenting the fact that my shiny new college degree seemed to have only gotten me a mountain of debt and not much else. We both applied to be residential volunteers for a year at this non-profit educational farm run by Heifer International. Being accepted was nothing short of the best thing that has ever happened to us both. Overlook is where we met, where we learned how to milk a goat and slaughter a rabbit, where we learned the stubbornness of goats, how skittish a sheep is, and how surprisingly high cattle can jump over fences, where we fed kitchen scraps to pigs, where we made our first chevre, sauerkraut and beer, where we learned how painstaking it is to thin carrots but how satisfying it is to harvest them, where we witnessed countless number of kids realize that their food comes from the soil and that vegetables are delicious, where we made some of the best friends that we have, and where we realized that farming was something we wanted in our lives for the rest of our lives.
Our second new beginning together was the following season when I decided to take an apprenticeship working on a small organic production farm in northern California. I’ve never worked so hard in my life…tending to 5 acres of organic vegetables, 10 acres of small grains, a 1200 head annual pastured poultry operation, milking goats, feeding pigs, rotationally grazing cattle and sheep, collecting eggs, and training a team of oxen. We ran a weekly veggie CSA as well as a monthly grain/flour CSA and we went to 3 farmers markets a week.
Third new beginning: I was offered a position as field crew leader the next year. I moved off-farm and Daniel and I started a small homestead of our own. We raised meat rabbits, and Muscovy ducks for eggs. We had fig, apple, pear, and cherry trees and a small garden. We spent our evenings experimenting with and learning about cooking, fermenting, brewing, canning, pickling, gardening, butchering, curing, and I even learned how to spin my own yarn.
Unfortunately after two years we had had quite enough of California. Our fourth new beginning was when we decided to take a six week road trip across the U.S. and move to Roanoke where Daniel grew up. Daniel went to work for the family business, Key Living Options, in Salem. They provide group homes and living services for adults with developmental disabilities. I found a job at Local Roots A Farm-to-Table Restaurant waiting tables, bartending, and as a shift manager. We honestly had no intention of staying in Roanoke but we love the area, our Grandin Village community, the wonderful people we have met, and we have now lived in Roanoke for over a year!
And that brings us to our most recent new beginning! Virginia Tech has a great program called the Catawba Sustainability Center that is used as a farmer incubator project. For very minimal costs we have access to 1/4 acre surrounded by deer fencing, hand tools, a rototiller, irrigation, and a community of farmers! We feel so lucky to have such amazing resources to get us off the ground before we even own any land!
We are very excited for our first endeavor into vegetable market gardening. We have onions, leeks, brassicas, tomatoes, and pepper seedlings started and are anxiously awaiting for the ground to thaw and dry out so we can start planting peas, spinach, radishes, arugula, carrots, and beets! We have just officially been accepted as a vendor at the West End Community Market and plan to start there mid-May every Tuesday from 3-6. We also hope to sell some of our produce to Local Roots where Chef Matt Lintz will make it into the most delicious thing you’ve ever tasted. Please come support the West End Market, Truffula Farm, and Local Roots!