Field Manager Profile: Andrew Hockenberry
Field Day Family Farm
My name is Andrew Hockenberry, and I am writing to the friends of the Bardstown Farmers’ Market to ask that you help me with my senior thesis at the University of Louisville. But first, here is my story. My family moved to Louisville, KY when I was just two years old. I grew up playing baseball and basketball in Jeffersontown, KY where my family lived. When the time came for middle school I decided to take the art route after expressing some interest in it and attended Noe Middle School. From there I went on to the Visual Arts department at duPont Manual High School. After hanging out in the Highlands area in high school with my liberal art friends I became involved with the Environmental Movement and went to rallies protesting Mountain Top Removal, became an avid reader of Wendell Berry works, and learned about the damage we were inflicting onto our environment. When the choice for college came around I decided to stay in the city that I cherish deeply and enrolled in the University of Louisville.
During the Spring 2012, I took a low intensive course for aspiring farmers, and food justice advocates through Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville, or SAL. Through the monthly meetings led by Stephen Bartlett, I and my fellow classmates learned and discussed topics ranging from both the hands-on aspect of the food movement, like soil science and crop rotation, as well as the social aspects of the food movement, like food sovereignty and food justice. We heard from various local farmers and from some people who had completed the course in previous years. The summer portion of the course required weekly involvement with a local farmer or food justice group. I choose to do a full time summer apprenticeship under Adam Barr at Barr Farms and moved to Rhodelia, KY for the summer.
The second my hands dug into the soil at Barr Farms, I was hooked. As one of my favorite Farmers, Masanobu Fukuoka has written, “Agriculture is the cultivation of the human spirit”. This statement defined my experience that summer and when I returned to the University of Louisville in the fall, it was all I could think about. I got my fix through taking courses in the Geography/Geoscience department and Environmental History but needed to get back outside in the fields. The next summer I decided to stay in Louisville and gladly accepted an offer for another summer apprenticeship, but this time with Ivor Chodkowski at Field Day Family Farm. The vegetable production at Field Day Family Farm was more intensive than at Barr Farms and we worked with a larger crew, but similar methods were used such as the non-use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and the practice of crop rotation and cover cropping. The more I worked within this realm of sustainable and organic agriculture the more I became connected with place, community and nature; things that were missing from my years growing up in suburbia.
When the apprenticeship ended, I again had to go back to school. This time though, with more freedom in my schedule and the connection to a farm within the city, I was able to work part time at Field Day Family Farm where I became Field Manager the year following my apprenticeship. I am currently the Field Manager there and am working full time while finishing up school part time. For my senior thesis, this year, I am trying to incorporate my work with my studies in the Geography department. I am interested in where farmers’ market customers like you are visiting from. I am also interested in your reasons for shopping here as well as your ideas of “local”. It would help my studies greatly if you could fill out the survey by clicking the link in this newsletter. All surveys are anonymous and will be used only for my study’s purposes.
Through my experience with agriculture and with the local food movement in Louisville, I have learned valuable lessons about hard work, health, and the environment. I have met wonderful people who share similar ideals and have helped me grow. I have learned that Louisville is supportive of its local shops and businesses. I have learned that in this city ‘local’ is not a boundary set by politics or miles, but instead it is a relationship--not just between people, but between people and the environment, socially and physically. Help me share with others what I have learned by taking this survey. Thank you all very much for your support of local food and farmers.
Link to survey: http://goo.gl/forms/2PrkMsciKG