Welcome to the Big Team Farms

An e-Newsletter for the community that's growing farms differently

Hello everyone!

First of all, thank you, thank you, thank you again for supporting the pre-launch campaign for Farm (and other F Words), and welcome to the Big Team Farm community.

What the F does that mean? In this weekly note, you’ll find;

  • updates on the book

  • quick hits of some of the best stories from people in this farm/food community

  • a forum to ask and answer questions

  • beautiful farm and food art

  • random interesting stuff re: farming

  • some swear words

Farm (and other F Words) Update (In Case You Missed It)

We reached our $5,000 goal in under 8 hours, and our stretch goal of $8,000 in less than 20 hours. I’ve been walking on air for days.

What does that mean?

For one, I will now also be releasing a hardcover book and an audio book! Order details on those to come. 

Also, you can still pre-order! Special hidden perks may just be in store… 😉. And if you know of someone who might like to read the book/be part of this community but doesn’t have the funds, just message me. There have been a bunch of generous donations from people wanting to pay it forward, so we’ll get anyone set up who needs it.

Then, I'm going to be redirecting the rest of the proceeds in three directions. 

1. To support The Abundant Table. The members of this collectively-owned farm, all former farmworkers, have been an inspiration to me on so many levels (and are featured in the book!). If you know of other great food/farm organizations we should support, I’m all ears.

2. To support BIPOC artist-activists who are using their art to explore and elevate issues at the intersections of farming, food, people, nature, and land.

Why? Because we live the stories we tell, and that holds true for farming in particular. Part and parcel of growing farms differently is finding new ways to see, hear, feel, and understand them. Investing in different stories, told through books (you’ve already done that 😘 ), art, movies, music, everything— is a vital (and often overlooked) part of change-making in the food system.

First up, I’ve been *pumped* to work with Savannah LeCornu on two pieces that she created on this subject. >>

In her words; “The set together is called Old Ways//New Ways. They show how traditional ways of fishing and gathering are still used today, but also how they have evolved. These are both based on my personal experiences with fishing and gathering. Both are set in a modern time, but I wanted to include more traditional clothing in one, since it’s something that is still worn today. 

These days there are certain parts of the Columbia River where Tribal fisherman have exclusive rights to fish. This particular scene takes place at Preacher's Eddy in Oregon where three cousins spend the morning cleaning gunk off the drying nets by hand. It is tedious and dirty work that young ones are assigned to while Uncles and Aunties go out in the boat to either pull more nets (and fish in) or lay them out. 

The next scene shows a women in traditional regalia gathering huckleberries in the forest. She will gather enough berries to freeze and use and gift through out the year. She carries a baby in a cradleboard, a traditional baby carrier and one that is still used today and often given as gifts.”

For me, Savannah’s work gets to the essence of why communities farm in the first place. To feed ourselves and one another. It seems obvious, but when you get into the weeds of modern American farming, food is rarely the focus. Farming is just one strategy to secure food from the environment; and land and soil have much more to offer than just edible calories.

I’ll write much more on this, but in the mean time, follow along with farm art here, I currently have 4 spectacular artists in the pipeline, more cool stuff to come! Shout out also to Alissa Welker, who’s done/is doing some amazing work with me too (stay tuned).

3. The rest will continue go towards publishing costs, growing the community, and supercharging the work I, and so many others, are tackling. Again, updates on that to come.

One Other F(un) Thing

A project I’m unwittingly working on these days is collecting all the pop culture references to farming I can find (because it turns out, if you research farming for long enough, you start to see farming everywhere). Since it’s *checks notes* still 2020, I’ve been rewatching 30 Rock, and have come across two fun farm references. The most famous;

Liz: Then why are you wearing a tux?

Jack: It’s after 6. What am I, a farmer?

and this less famous but more fascinating clip (starts at 3:30) where Jack is in Washington, using the American farmer as a shield to defend his companies consolidation play.

What’s the point? Have you ever had someone tell you that you just don’t understand farming/farmers, where your food from comes, or about American agriculture in general? First of all, F those people, especially if they were in ag, because they don’t know your life. Second of all, these two examples alone show how much *most* people really do know about farming/agriculture. So much, in fact, that you can intuitively describe the basic functions of a farm business (can you say the same of Apple? Google? GE?), you understand why a farmer wouldn’t be wearing a tux (stereotype, but still), you understand why lawmakers wouldn’t want to look like they’re doing anything to harm farmers (and there is *so much* there), hell, you even understand why the music crescendos while he’s describing the farm (and as you probably know, his analogy lands somewhere between a vast oversimplification and a straight up fallacy about farming, and obviously offers no meaningful comparison to the merger of multinational telecomm companies 😂 ).

These are just a few pieces of pop culture evidence that, quite to the contrary of the “learn where your food comes from” mantra, most people actually have complex, multi-dimensional, and deeply held ideas and feelings about where food comes from, how farming works, and who farmers are. You’re almost certainly one of them. So don’t let anyone tell you different. We’ll explore a lot of those ideas and feelings here and in the book. F(EELINGS) OUT PEOPLE.

All that to say, if you spot/hear/etc. interesting clips, quotes, lyrics, images, direct conversations, or other allusions to farming in mainstream media, I’d love to hear about it. I’m thinking about putting together a digital museum of half-truths about farming.

I’ll call it the Mock Farming Museum.

Last F(ew) Things;

  • Over the next several months, I’ll also be sharing select chapters from my book. These will be early drafts that only you and my publishing team get to see!

  • If you’ve read this whole email and are thinking, “I wish I didn’t have to use my eyes to interact with you,” I’ve got you. Brush up on your farm economics/history with the Escaping 1980 podcast, a limited series (just 7 episodes!) that explores the farm crisis that was and how to avoid the next one, hosted by yours truly. Also, my friend Connie Bowen and I have been stirring things up over at the End of Ag, a podcast where we predict how food/farm staples like ethanol, dairy, and plastic packaging will end, and what comes after.

  • The absolute best part of working on this book (and all my other jobs/stories) has been getting to know so many of you, and frankly I wish all of you knew each other and that I could connect you all in a space where you could frolic and talk about farming (or literally anything else). One place where that can happen is on Facebook (my publisher made me, join here), but it could also potentially happen in a Slack channel? Or Discord? Basically, this is an open call— if you’d like a place where you can chat casually with me, meet other people in this community, or just ask questions/have debates with other folx looking to farm/food differently, I’m happy to set that up.

Thanks again to everyone for rooting for me! I couldn't do this without your support and invaluable feedback. If you need me, I’m right at the other end of your reply button.

Sarah