William White has been farming organically for about two years, but his passion for agriculture began well before that. Though he grew up in the suburbs, he says he was always drawn to the mountains, and decided to move here as soon as he could. After graduating from college he began working on a research farm where he grew to love working outdoors and having a job that changed with the seasons.
His decision to pursue his own farm was solidified when he completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He had both a desire to be working outside and wanted to put his environmental science background to work. In the midst of the AT he decided to grow sustainable organic food for his family and neighbors so that he could be an example of what anyone can do to keep our earth (and bodies!) healthy.
Once his mind was made up, he says the first challenge he faced was finding the right piece of land. They searched for about 10 months and encountered a lot of disappointment before they found property that fit the bill. Outside of logistics, he said the biggest challenge he’s faced personally in regards to farming was in developing the knowledge base. “It may have been self imposed, but I wanted to spend time learning from another farmer before I felt comfortable enough to start doing this on my own.”
One means of education he pursued was attending ARC&D’s Field School. He says the top two things he got out of it were the friendships that were fostered and the resources to which he was given access. Field School is the perfect place for friendships and partnerships to develop because most everyone is at the same level facing similar challenges. The resource notebook given to each student is a trove of valuable information. It will help students find the right source for specific issues, and likely open doors you didn’t know existed.
William says that while there is nothing he’d do differently in his own journey, he does wish he could change something about the farming industry in general: the perception of small farmers. “I wish more farmers and the farming community would recognize what small organic farmers are doing. As a whole there is a lot of innovation being developed that the bigger, more conventional farmers could take advantage of.” Asked what advice he would give to someone interested in pursuing farming he says, “It has taken me over five years to get to the point I am at now. Stay focused and keep pursuing it whenever you can.”