In Their Own Words

My work at OAEC:

I manage the health and productivity of OAEC’s extensive collection of fruit trees. This involves pruning and training, thinning and harvesting fruit, managing the understory health, mitigating pests and diseases, and representing the trees to all who share their space and enjoy their fruit.

My background:

I was unschooled in the rural wilds of North Carolina’s piedmont region. I began working on farms in 2006 and haven’t looked back. Greenhouses, row crops, heavy machinery, farmer’s markets, college gardens, software company campuses and urban farms have all played shaped my vocational context. In college, I studied both psychology and agroecology—to me, highly complementary disciplines that sit at the locus of my motivation for engaging in agriculture: the reciprocal nature of healthy humans and healthy bioregions.

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Why my work matters:

Fruit is delicious, and trees rule! OAEC has a highly curated and long-loved collection of pome, stone, vine, and citrus fruits that give to their home community year after year. And because of its creative kitchen team and wonderful volunteers, the fruit is well-loved from blossom to bite. As orchard manager, I’m serving as facilitator to the trees’ fruitfulness and guardian to their long-term health.

My dream project:

At some point in my life I hope to be engaged in a polycultural re-wilding project involving perennial plants and a Noah’s Ark of detritivores, herbivores, and predators… with the requisite ratty band of grazers and tree people afoot to help shepherd landscapes towards a wildly abundant savanna.

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My passions:

I’m a bit obsessed with functional relationships writ large across the landscape. Are the animals fed, and are the people communicating? Where’s the grassland going? What does managed animal impact mean for the health of trees, watersheds, people? Social change, like ecological change, is mycelial. It’s catalytical. And this means little opportunities to advance succession towards a resilient perennial polyculture are everywhere. In my herd work, I obsess over grassland succession and getting beef into the bellies of my friends. With the trees, I obsess over the craft of pruning and coaxing their surrounding ecosystems to life. This interaction effect—these emergent properties—leave me humbled and enchanted.

My favorite resiliency resource:

Hearty food, earnest friendship, my family, back rubs, and the work of Ivan Illich.

The happiest I’ve ever been:

It’s any time I’m on the dance floor!

How I regenerate:

Writing poems and playing guitar—often quite poorly, but with much enthusiasm.