Hi loyal fan base! You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as often as you’d like. That’s because I’ve been packing, unpacking, and packing and unpacking again as I brought home two Guatemalan street dogs and then visited family over Christmas and New Year’s across the United States. I’m now quite settled in the lovely former tobacco town of Durham, North Carolina. While I miss the wonderful friends and lovely weather that Antigua has to offer, I’m really excited to start my life in Durham. I have a farm job lined up for this coming season (which begins in March or April and ends in November) at Maple Spring Gardens, where I’ll gain experience and learn the ropes with the hope of having my own farm in the future. I miss my friends (and dedicated informal Spanish coaches) at Caoba Farms in Antigua, but am excited to be working with a team of people involved in the local food movement in the area that I’d like to be for the next few years (or longer). I’ve also decided that at least for the moment, I’m going to be focusing on farming, rather than midwifery (the main work I was doing in Guatemala). Midwifery is a profession that demands respect—you’re always on call (babies don’t have a schedule) and the pay is significantly less than that of an OBGYN. The ultimate downside for me however is that all of the work takes place indoors; yes, it seems obvious in writing that babies are born indoors, but I thought the magical experience of birth would be enough to keep me inside. The fact that I’d nearly always prefer volunteering at Caoba Farms instead of working at the midwifery clinic was a pretty good indicator that I should focus on learning more about farming. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to live in such a beautiful place for a year.
Luckily for me (and not totally coincidentally), the place I wanted to move has an incredible local food scene. Located in the Piedmont area of North Carolina, Durham has been the underdog to the nearby cities of Chapel Hill and Raleigh until recent years. Now, Durham boasts one of the best local food scenes in the country, a thriving Farmer’s Market downtown, hordes of local breweries, and a food coop is on the horizon. My next posts won’t be too different from the “After” Life (or post-graduation) series; however, they’ll be focusing on the local food scene here through the lives of small farmers. My job at Maple Spring Gardens will provide me the opportunity to meet many inspiring farmers and food lovers in the area—I can’t wait to share what I’m learning with you.
Thanks for reading!
Laura Stephenson is an environmental science graduate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she focused in environmental and community health. She is currently working as a farm hand at a small, organic farm outside of Roxboro, North Carolina called Forty North Farm. In April, she’ll be working full-time at another small, organic farm outside of Hillsborough, North Carolina called Maple Spring Gardens. Laura writes the Farming and the Local Food Scene series about her experiences with local farms and farmers around the Piedmont area of North Carolina.