Youth Radio’s Jennifer Obakhume hails from L.A. and comments on the culture shock of her first visit to a farm.
GELLERMAN: Just before she packed her bags for her freshman year in college, Youth Radio producer Jennifer Obakhume headed 220 miles north from her home in Los Angeles to an organic farm in Three Rivers, California. As Jennifer learned, it was a short trip, but a world apart for a first time visitor to a farm.
OBAKHUME: I’m a city girl from L.A., but until this summer the closest I had ever been to a farm was a petting zoo called Green Meadows Farms in Los Angeles County. Most of what I knew about country living I learned from watching "Green Acres" on TV Land. That all changed when this city girl made her first trip with friends to the country, 4 hours outside of Los Angeles.
BIRCH: “Oh here’s some gala apples. Just startin to ripen. I’ve been picking them and eating them already. If I were y’all, I’d grab some with a little red on ‘em. Some of them might have worms in em”
OBAKHUME: Ah to eat fresh fruit picked right from a tree! James Birch, proprietor of Flora Bella Farm, takes me on a tour of his beautiful 26-acre farm. I learn about the irrigation water needed for crops, and how you monitor fruit and vegetable growth. I also find out that Gala apples picked fresh from a tree are an enjoyable treat.
[CRUNCH INTO AN APPLE]
OBAKHUME: I’ve never considered farming as a career prospect before, although I do know something about farming because I once grew fruits and vegetables in the city with my late grandmother before I was pre-school age. But now I’m 17; it’s been a long time. Everything is beautiful on the farm, except for the bugs.
I do face a major challenge if I ever want to be an organic farmer. Don’t laugh. I have a nearly manic fear of spiders that began when my 2nd grade teacher showed the movie “Arachnophobia” to our class. Of course, there are Daddy Long Legs all over the farm.
So I brew up a plan to sleep in the car for two nights, though I change my mind. Still, I can only stand to shower the first night because there are spiders on the ceiling. But as the weekend passes, the beauty of the outdoors outweighs my fear.
WIESENTHAL: So this is an Othello Rose. This is its third bloom of the summer. And if you smell it, you will be transported!
OBAKHUME: I sniff alongside Bettina Wiesenthal Birch in the Rose garden at her neighboring farm. I think about my fear of spiders and its deeper roots. The truth is, I have bigger things on my mind. I start college in North Carolina in a matter of days.
I begin to contemplate this new chapter in my life in terms of farming: I’m digging the hole for the seeds of new beginnings, and I’m growing roots to maintain stability during uncertain times. And then of course, I’m weeding out the negative, facing those spiders- my fear of the unknown.
My time on the farm tests my ability to accept situations that are out of my control, and out of my comfort zones. This is also what college will do.
In a funny way, visiting Flora Bella Farm feels like coming back to a home I never had. A home where I actually feel free to take in the air, and free to accept that I am going through changes. The Farm can keep the spiders, but I’ll keep the memories of the sweet smelling roses and the feeling of making a bright new transition into college.
For Living on Earth, I'm Jennifer Obakhume.
GELLERMAN: Jennifer Obakhume is a freshman at Bennet College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her story was produced by Youth Radio.
[MUSIC: Ratatat “El Pico” from ‘Ratatat’ (XL Recordings - 2004)]
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