Winneshiek Idea House Trout Tank “pitch”

I founded Humble Hands Harvest as a vegetable farm in 2013.

Last year, after 4 years of renting, I bought a 8-acres of bare land and added Emily Fagan as a business partner. We asked for and received a lot of support from this community and from our families to install a well and other basic infrastructure that makes it possible for us to grow food. We had a great first season together: we grew vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program, in which people pay at the beginning of the season to receive boxes of our best produce as we harvest it. We also sold our vegetables at farmers markets and to restaurants. We planted some apple trees, asparagus, and berries, and I grew my flock of rotationally grazed sheep. Now we are embarking on year two, developing our business for the long term.

We’re also part of a demographic of young people who have a lot of social privilege, but very little capital. Many of us are looking to do something tangible, something real in the world, but it is a challenge to access the resources to do that meaningful work.

Here’s our problem: we were born into a culture that has forgotten that we are biological beings—that our lives are totally dependent on the earth. This culture forgets to value beauty, smallness, slowness, and connection to each other, and instead we are taught to care about speed and size and busy-ness, and to find our value in owning and consuming.

This culture has shaped our landscape, so that we are presented with eroding and poisoned soil, climate chaos, cancers and diseases, and a lack of meaning in our conventional way of doing business.

We have been treating the earth like a machine, and in so doing have been treating ourselves like machines instead of the biological and spiritual beings that we are.

Emily and I work a farm, growing food for our community, but deeper down our work is in shifting that culture into something more humane.

Our mission is to celebrate our dependence on place-based community through food, work, and time together. We’re exploring how to care for land under new and different economic models. We are building soil and crafting a resilient landscape. We’re working toward layers of production, with animals grazing under nut and fruit trees, and multiple people in charge of different enterprises, working co-operatively to make a living on the land. We invite everyone to participate in our mission by eating our food, working with us, socializing, and making meaning on the farm.

Emily and I pay ourselves a salary of $1000 per month. During our peak season of 80 hours of work per week, that pencils out to $3/hour. We’re giving our whole selves to this food growing and culture-making endeavor, serving future generations. Your support tonight does help the two of us who depend on the farm for our living, but more importantly your support encourages this land-based future that we’re working so hard to build.

In farming, this future is built year by year. So to support our food-growing and culture-making, the most important thing you can do is to be part of it, and eat our food this year! We provide CSA vegetable shares that you can buy tonight. You can also reserve grass-finished lambs or pastured pigs which will be ready in the fall.

Looking longer-term, we’ll be planting hundreds of nut and fruit trees this year. They won’t produce food right away, but some of them will outlive me—they are a gift to the future. I’m accepting sponsorships of $20/tree to help that happen.

Those of you who have more money to invest might be interested in helping to fund a pole building on the farm, which will cost me about $20k, and will serve the many much-needed services that a roof provides, including a space for solar panels.

And finally, doing farm work all the time makes it hard to plan events and make beautiful slow sweet things happen on the farm, so you can support us creatively with permaculture design or party planning or mural painting! Let’s talk about it.

As the years go by with this farm embedded in community and the land, more will happen than my one imagination can anticipate. I dream of connected, well-fed people who have meaningful work, but not too much of it. I dream of rich living soil that gives us life that is beautiful, skillful, and abundant.

This is not just a dream for Humble Hands Harvest: we need a neighborhood and a region full of this kind of living.

It’ll take a lot more than my work to make these dreams come true… but Emily and I are all-in, and I bet you share some of these values for the future we can build together. I’m grateful for your support here tonight, and I’m glad for the work that Humble Hands Harvest can do to support the future of this place.


One thought on “Winneshiek Idea House Trout Tank “pitch”

  1. Rejoicing that you pitched these words, and now have shared them with us. We want to keep fitting in and catching a corner of your farm. Perry-O

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