Julia Asherman’s Story
I’m 25 years old, from Massachusetts originally, and a self-taught farmer of 3 years. I manage and farm full-time at Davis Farms in Roberta, Georgia. We grow year round, and specialize in fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, and mushrooms. We cultivate 2 acres by hand, and sell to our 45-person CSA and at local farmer’s markets. I first became interested in farming as a lover of plants and land, science and philosophy, and a desire for self-sufficiency. (Appreciation of delicious, healthy food came later.) I like to work hard, be an inventor, mechanic, scientist, artist, gardener, record keeper, etc. Farming is the only thing I can imagine that lets me do all of it, and makes me truly content in the day to day. As a farmer, I\’m empowered by the complex relationships that effortlessly occur around me and by the challenge to understand and work with them. As a producer, I see the food we provide bring people choices and knowledge, health, beauty, sense of pride and honesty in our relationships. As a business, I think it is powerful to challenge capitalism by running an ethical business where quality of life (not money) is the incentive.
Our farm is young and growing. The land came with a lot of old dilapidated junk and equipment from what used to be a conventional hog farm. Over the past three years, we have made an effort to cleanup and repurpose what we can, enabling us to salvage some of our startup infrastructure and rebuild others anew. While our production is increasing and successful, the farm is lacking some basic necessities, notably a proper wash station. For past seasons, we have finagled a comically inefficient (though safe) system that involves too many buckets and not enough sink. As we approach future seasons and continue to expand our production and markets, we find ourselves frustrated and stunted with our lack of post-harvest infrastructure. With $2,500 we feel we could upgrade from buckets to stainless steal sinks, running water, counter space, and shelter. We take pride in the quality and freshness of our produce and with an improved wash station we will be better equipped to keep up with our yields. Growing beautiful healthy food is just the first half of a much longer process, much can be lost or gained during harvest and handling.
Davis Farms is a spec amongst vast acres of GMO cotton, subsidized corn and soybean, and massive chicken houses. Our county (and most of our Middle Georgia region) is classified as a food desert, with incredibly limited food access. Our farm holds educational workshops on food and agriculture, and frequently hosts school groups and camp tours for a more hands on learning experience. In addition to our CSA and market, we sell to the “Veggie Van”, a weekly produce truck that takes fresh local food into Macon’s low-income neighborhoods to increase food access. Our primary farmer’s market began in 2011 with Davis Farms as one of the core produce vendors. This year-round producers’ market is the first and only one of it’s kind in Macon. This market also enables us to accept food stamps at twice the dollar value. The market creates a space where vendors work in solidarity instead of competing, the community comes to learn about healthy food, and local sustainable farmers get visibility. In an agricultural area where the ‘green-local-organic-sustainable’ trend is still new, our farm (in partnership with our fellow producers) is cultivating a genuine grassroots movement around good food and love of the land.