Born and raised in the Midwest, I grew up surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms yet far removed from my food system. As a kid, I reached for most of my meals through drive-thru windows. Food that came from unnamed sources, assembled by nameless people. Dinner wasn’t something that mattered. It was something that happened.

An inherent loner, I never felt connected to a place. I spent my 20s and 30s living all over the US and abroad, looking for something that lit me on fire. It didn’t come, so I moved to a place that felt like I was on fire: Phoenix, Arizona. For 15 years I tried on careers that never quite fit — archaeologist, environmental planner, city planner — each one sapping more energy than the last. 

Meanwhile, countless cues showed me that I care about food: seeking out volunteer opportunities on farms and at food non-profits; listening to food podcasts; signing up for a CSA; enrolling in a 24-week culinary program. Somehow I ignored all the signs. 

My husband didn’t. One night, after a particularly exasperating week and a rant that went on far too long, he asked why I didn’t just quit and start a farm. Before I could finish my list of excuses about how I’d spend thousands and waste years before figuring out what I was doing, he sent me a link for a farmer training program. A month later, I enrolled in a school for organic farming and spent a season learning to plant, to grow, to evolve.

In 2019, eager to put to work what I had just spent the previous year learning, my husband and I began the search for a future we could both believe in—in a place we felt connected to. We found it in Virginia. After so many years in so many cities, I could finally point to it on the map: a place, a life, a purpose.

It’s here. In this place. Along the 77th meridian west. It came from her(e).