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Mindful : April 2015
forestry, but as she walked through woods in her native Virginia she found herself pondering food production rather than timber yield. So the adven- turous 31-year-old apprenticed on farms for a few years after she graduated from college, then moved to an island in Maine covered with wild apple trees, grow n no doubt from discarded seeds. When a friend said she wanted to learn how to prune an apple tree, Greenman found someone to teach a workshop. “He gave an apple tree workshop, and it was like the universe aligned,” she says. “I’ve never felt more able to do something. My passion developed in a n instant. After being in that tree and learning how to prune it, I had this insatiable appetite to prune other trees. I even taught myself how to graft.” She beca me obsessed with the world of apples, and has since discovered that her great-g reat-g reat- gra ndfather was a n apple orchardist who developed an heirloom apple called Dula Beauty. Now she owns a nd operates Legacy Fruit Trees, and in her first solo yea r has presold more than 4,000 apple trees on her acreage in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Virginia—with double the a mount grafted for next year. She specializes in grafting and grow- ing apples, with a focus on connecting hard cider makers with high quality, heirloom fruits. With a collection now of 400 varieties of apples, Greenma n is pla nning a commercial-scale fruit and nut forest using a diversity of apple genet- ics a nd native Appalachia n species. Her work is enterprising, and endlessly creative, a surprising concept when one imagines farming as monotonous, back-breaking work. Each year, Stone Barns’ Growing Farm- ers Initiative accepts a dozen apprentices, who spend nine months learning to grow vegetables in the fields, to tend livestock like sheep, pigs, geese, chicken, and turkeys, and to run a success- ful farm business. Pictured here is 2014 apprentice Jesse Tolz prepping for onion planting. Small Change is Good Change For there to be a lot more Eliza Greenmans, a new kind of farm economy needs to blossom, says farmer Severine von Tscharner Fleming, the embodiment of a young farming activist. She is director of Green- horns, an organization she founded in 2007 that is working to “retrofit the food system and build a thriving ag ricultural economy ” through events and creative exchanges via traditional and new media. Their latest film project—Our Land, a series of short episodes available online for free (at ourland.t v)— is a follow-up to their 2010 feature documenta ry, The Greenhorns. She is also cofounder and boa rd secretar y of Fa rm Hack, cofounder of the National Young Farmers Coalition, and a board member of the Schumacher Center for New Economics, which hosts Agrarian Trust, her latest startup, focused on land access for beginning farmers, and perma nent protection of affordable orga nic farmland. Our national ag ricultura l policies have been built a round the principle that “food should be cheap. As a consequence the US has been dumping our food exports into ma rkets around the world,” says Fleming, a graduate of UC Berkeley who now farms in New York’s Champlain Valley. “Not only has this policy been devastating for farmers in places like Mexico and Honduras—who have become pa rt of this country ’s immigrant agricultural workforce— it also displaces small farmers domestically. We’re competing with people whose labor is underva lued.” These days, the young farmers who are success- ful have been selling into alternative markets— → ILLUSTRATIONBYRAKSITAR/DOLLARPHOTOCLUB,PHOTOGRAPHBYBENHIDERPHOTOGRAPHY April 2015 mindful 51