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Sustainable Farming in Southwest Virginia

Last Friday, I met my friend Kai in downtown (if you can call it that) Abingdon. It was a short walk from the historic Barter Theatre to the local brewery where we sat at a picnic table looking in.

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I know Kai because she WWOOFed at Taproot, my aunt and uncle’s farm in West Virginia. She’s done really cool work with refugee growers in Baltimore, and now she’s interning at TNT Farms, a cattle and chemical-free vegetable operation not far from her old job at the Harvest Table Farm in Meadowview, VA.

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TNT is run by Tamara and Tony. We spent most of our time with Tamara, whom I met frying eggs. She’s tall and lean with a long ponytail and an awesome, quiet grin. On top of her more-than-full-time work on the farm, Tamara is a yoga teacher who also works with Appalachian Sustainable Development. In the morning we hung flyers in town for a women-in-agriculture group she’s organizing. In the afternoon we helped her and Tony with their high tunnel frame. (“A big screwbaru,” Tamara called it.) We got held up when the bull and a few calves escaped the pasture and she went sprinting up the hill.

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Those two days left an impression—maybe because it was my first day of farm work and it felt amazing to be out in the weather; maybe it was the stormy view from the greenhouse, which sits up on a hill; maybe it was this badass woman in her shredded Carhartt living a life of her choosing. Not sure, but I was happy to be there. My trip nerves disappeared the second I stepped out of Kai’s camper and caught sight of the hills.

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Loco and three-legged Mischief

Early Sunday I left for Tennessee and the River House Farm. I’ve followed Melissa on Instagram for a while, and when I posted about my trip she offered to trade a night in her super cute airbnb for some farm help. She and her boyfriend Severian live in an early twentieth century farmhouse and grow veggies right out their back door as well as on a plot down the road. Melissa teaches cooking classes for local teenagers and hosts a supper club, too. I’m learning that this farming business is rarely, if ever, just farming.

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Chilly early morning at the River House Farm

Melissa has pretty much the most epic bathroom ever. After squatting for a few hours top-dressing vegetable beds, this tub was heaven. My body is still getting used to things.

THANK YOU to Kai, Tamara, Tony, Melissa, and Severian. Wishing you guys the best of luck with your seasons.

Now I’m here outside Nashville at an impressive no-till farm that I can’t wait to tell you more about. This is my little home:

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The one downside is that I’m a half hour from any decent wi-fi connection. More soon.