Severine von Tscharner Fleming is the director of the forthcoming film
The Greenhorns and founder of the crucial new young farmer organization of the same name. Here’s her no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners perspective on the young farmers movement. Make no mistake, this woman is dedicated and smart — and she’s recruiting.
Q. What is Greenhorns all about?
A. It’s about the community of young farmers in this country. We are a nonprofit organization that works to promote, recruit, and support young farmers. Mostly what we do is produce media — print resources, new media, and programming for young farmers. Recently, there has also been an emphasis on events.
Q. Did it come about before or after the film?
A. The whole thing started with the film, with the idea that we’d better document this glorious and burgeoning movement, and share the excitement with more young people who might be inclined to enter agriculture professionally. But soon we realized that making a movie takes a long time, and that we’d better start communicating in other ways as well. So we started a wiki for relevant resources, a blog for news and video ephemera, then we got a weekly radio show and podcast on Heritage Radio Network, we began to tweet, etc.
Q. What are you growing, and where? What got you going in ag?
A. Last season, my friends Michelle, Anya, and I, with help from my little brother Charlie, ran our own farm, smithereen farm, in the Hudson Valley of New York. We planted an orchard, raised pigs, rabbits, laying hens, a few fowl, and about three-quarters of an acre of vegetables, flowers, and herbs. We sold to three fancy restaurants, an organic grocery store, and a farmers market. We also dried 2,000 marjoram plants and sold them to Formaggio Kitchen, a fancy food store in Cambridge, Mass.
Farming is pretty mwch the love of my life. Back in college I was part of a posse starting the Pomona College Organic Farm, a very guerilla project, a permaculture fruit orchard with permanent raised beds. We had such a wonderful time building that farm, hustling hoses, hauling mulch, hosting work/harvest parties — but we had quite a trouble convincing the college of its merit. Goes to show the changing climate for agriculture within the groves of academe, because the farm is now on the college’s admission tour!
This coming season I’ll be working on my friend Dina Brewster’s farm The Hickories in Connecticut. It’s a 200-family member organic CSA with fruit, vegetables, and meat. Dina is a bad-ass young farmer, ex-poetry teacher, and sage greenhorn.