Friday, March 1, 2013

The Experts Weigh In: How I Became A Farmer

Tara at Ferme de Gally in France.

On my 35th birthday, I was living in Paris, France, working at the headquarters of a telecoms manufacturing company. I spent my birthday tied to my desk on back-to-back global conference calls for 7 straight hours. When I went to sleep that night, I pledged that on my 36th birthday, I would not be doing the same type of work. 

Don't get me wrong - I loved living in Paris, and I honestly enjoyed working with my colleagues. I was blessed with a wonderful boss who mentored me and put me on interesting projects. Sure, there were the usual bureaucratic headaches that most employees of multi-national companies face today, but overall, my life was nothing to complain about! 

But... something was missing.

Tara in Champ de Mars, Paris.
I had started to realize that, upon waking, I was already looking forward to the end of the workday. On Mondays, I was already looking forward to the upcoming weekend, and I was starting to live for the next holiday. That was not the kind of life I wanted to continue living. So I asked myself "what do you want to do?".

My inner voice answered that question with the same response it had repeated for the past few years. To be honest, I think it was pretty tired of answering that question, as each time it voiced the answer, I brushed it off with an emphatic "Well that's just not possible! Be reasonable, Tara!". But nevertheless, that inner voice responded yet again "You want to be a farmer. You want to grow vegetables and work in the dirt".

I believe that inner voice is the innate truth within each of us that knows who we are and want we truly want. It is not governed by reason, and in fact, reason is its greatest opponent. In the world of scientific, rational thought in which we live, reason usually wins. But not this time.

As I fell asleep on my 35th birthday, I replied, "Ok. I'm going to be a farmer".

Kale microgreens
Many people ask me where this desire came from. No one in my family works in agriculture, I majored in English and Chinese, and my career up until last year was in telecoms. There is no logical explanation, but there is a story - my story about my journey towards greater health and wellness.

I lived in China for most of my 20's. One Chinese New Year, I went with my girlfriends to Thailand for my first fast/cleanse/detox experience. It was only 3 days without food, but this cleanse sparked a change in the direction of my life. The next year I went on a 5 day cleanse, the following year a 7 day and by the next year, I was going on an annual detox. When I moved to Paris, making a ticket to Thailand less convenient and economical, I started doing 10 day juice cleanses at home. With each fast, I shed addictions - smoking being the biggest one. Sugar cravings and yeast addictions were another. One year during the standard post-fast 7-day raw food diet, I decided to keep going and to earnestly explore the vegan raw food diet. During the two years that I was high raw, I met David Wolfe and George Lamoureux and began integrating superfoods and superherbs into my diet. In fact, it was the winter right before I turned 35 that I met George Lamoureux of Jing Herbs. I told him what herbs and medicinal mushrooms I had been taking and in what quantities (roughly 1/2 tsp./day each of reishi mushrooms, eucommia and astragalus, for those who are curious), and he said to me "Time to increase the dosage. You are ready for a transformation". So I did, and within three months of our encounter, I had taken the leap of faith to change careers and try farming.

There is no logic to this story. How can a fast from food, a raw vegan diet and medicinal mushrooms lead to such a drastic change in lifestyle? Is there a logical explanation? Or is there perhaps a more - what we could consider - magical explanation? 

I believe that the plants themselves called me to a different kind of life.

Mung bean sprouts
Now before you mutter 'hippie chick' and exit the page, I'd like to state my case. Since making the shift to being a farmer, I have come across various webinars and essays about the communicative relationship between humans and plants. Stephen Harrod Buhner in The Lost Language of Plants describes how we are trained in reductionism, to look at the earth as a series of isolated units that function as a machine to support the human race. He says that our current cultural epistemology has us viewing ourselves as isolated from other life forms. Prior to this universe-as-machine mode of thinking brought about by the Industrial Revolution, people perceived nature as alive with intelligence and soul. They saw "Earth as a living being, not a ball of resources inhabited by human beings hurtling through space". He goes on to write: "We have always lived, surrounded by original language".

Part of that original language is generated by plants. Plants communicate through our nose, our skin, our eyes and our tongue. Buhner provides countless examples of cultures who listen to plants. For example, the Iroquois believe that if a person becomes ill, the plant that can heal that particular illness will stand up and begin calling to the ill person. Buhner writes, "To a Heliconius butterfly, a honeybee, or a moth this would not be strange; they would understand". I believe that my ingestion of plants and my openness to their nutritional and health-building properties resulted in them taking a leading role in my life's journey. 

They have called me to work with them.

Tara at Devon Point Farm in Woodstock, CT.
So how has this leap of faith panned out? Last year, I started farming as an apprentice at Devon Point Farm in Woodstock, Connecticut. Following the apprenticeship, I started my own farm, Serafina Says Farm. I currently grow sprouts and microgreens and make artisanal raw living foods for sale at farmers' markets, a local co-op, an organic delivery service and a few local restaurants. This coming season, I will grow organic vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) on 2 1/2 acres of leased farmland plots in Canton and Simsbury, Connecticut. In parallel, I am training to become a Certified Health Coach via the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). This is where I met Lauren!

Being a new farmer and an entrepreneur has its own challenges, but every day I wake up living for each moment. I love what I do all the time! Weekdays are just as enjoyable as weekends. Mondays are great because they signal the start of new projects, and I have an inner peace that was previously missing because I know that I'm doing what I'm meant to do. As I'm still a new farmer, I don't have more to share with you yet on what it's like to run my own farm, but I would love to come back at the end of the growing season and let you know how this first year goes. Wish me luck!

My concluding words to those of you who have made it this far: In my experience, the path to health and wellness if a step-by-step process. It's a lifelong journey that will change not only your physical well-being but also your mental well-being. Changing your diet and flushing out toxins will enable you to listen to your inner voice, to have the courage to live the life you dream about and to be who you are meant to be. It is not an overnight journey and you can never be sure of where the journey will take you. So take that first step, because the world is full of magic and mystery.

If I wasn't experiencing it firsthand, I'm not sure I would believe it either!

Devon Point Farm in Woodstock, CT
Tara Tranguch is a former corporate world maven turned farmer. Last year, she left her life in Paris and moved to her home state of Connecticut to pursue her inner passion. Tara now runs her own farm, Serafina Says Farm, where she grows sprouts and microgreens and makes artisanal raw living foods. She confesses to being really in love with plants - so much so that she's  currently dreaming up a way to make her living room rug into a patch of living grass. In her own words, "Wouldn't it be great to sit on the grass while watching a movie, or walk on grass while inside?". If Tara were stranded on a deserted island, she'd be just fine eating coconuts and seaweed for the rest of her life, and when it comes to guilty pleasures, Tara admits to loving the new TV show The Carrie Diaries because it allows her to relive her childhood in the 80's. If you ever find yourself at a farmer's market in Connecticut, look for Tara's goods!

1 comment:

  1. Tara Tranguch is my hero!

    - Abbey P