Yes and no. I grew up in an “agrihood,” a mixed-use development focused on the intersections of agriculture, environmental stewardship, and community, called Prairie Crossing in Illinois. We had a 100-acre farm in our backyard; and my family volunteered on it. While my childhood was surrounded by agriculture, it wasn't until college that I seriously considered making a career in the field. My first job was at the Liberty Prairie Foundation, a food non-profit. There I helped harvest, train volunteers, and redistribute thousands of pounds of fresh produce to food deserts in North Chicago. I felt so fulfilled helping to connect people with local and nutritionally dense food in food insecure regions.
As college graduation neared I knew I wanted to work in agriculture in some respect and signed up for work as a farm hand. I worked a season on a 40-acre vegetable operation. On sunny beautiful days there wasn’t a better job out there, but weather and small paychecks with few benefits made me question if I could survive in agriculture. I wanted to find a way to make sustainable agriculture sustainable for the people and that's when I came across and applied for the Next-Gen Farmer Training Program at Square Roots.