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Country Queers

An oral history project documenting the diverse experiences of rural and small town LGBTQ+ folks in the USA since 2013. | Directed by Rachel Garringer

http://www.countryqueers.com/

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I thought surely I’d have plenty of time this evening to think up and post something either witty or profound for my final post in this space, but alas, suddenly ten cases of #peaches needed to be harvested instead 😂 It’s been wonderful meeting and chatting with so many of you and I’m so deeply grateful to know there’s a small army of us queer farmers out there working the land and bringing fresh local food into each of our communities! Thanks for being you! 👍 This is Melissa @evergrowingfarm signing off of #countryqueers 💗

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Acequias (communal irrigation systems) have evolved over thousands of years around the world and were brought to this area several hundred years ago by the Spanish colonizers. With the scarcity of water we have here in the high desert, our acequias are instrumental in the survival of our agricultural communities. While the monsoons have finally arrived, offering a bit of respite in what has been labeled an “exceptional drought” throughout much of northern New Mexico, we are all praying for more rain and a good winter with deep snow pack so our water systems can be replenished and we can breathe a bit easier going into the 2019 season than we all are in this one. Though the river our acequia comes from is at record lows, we’ve been luckier than most and have had consistent access to water all spring and summer so far. It’s been an incredibly hard beginning to what should be the true Season of Abundance for many of our area farmers but hope is on the horizon in the form of continually building storms and their resiliency is both profound and inspiring 💦🌧💦 This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . . . . #communityovercompetition #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers #acequia #acequiaculture #waterislife #monsoonseason #movingpictures #plotagraph #movingphotographs

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You know you’re crazy when...your off farm job is busier in the summer than your farm job, and that’s saying something! 😂 🤷🏻‍♀️😳 . I have the privilege of working for our local Farmers’ Market running six programs that cover direct farmer support around building their best businesses and community outreach and education around food access and the benefits of eating local. Tuesday’s are my longest and busiest days with four programs run at two Markets back to back and across town from each other. Youth programs like the POP (Power of Produce) Club are designed to inspire the next generation while Market Fresh Cooking shares demos and samples of simple, affordable recipes using local produce and products. Fresh Rx and #DUFB (Double Up Food Bucks) cover food access by literally putting produce into the hands and onto the tables of those who are food insecure. I am exhausted, yes... but I also feel so very lucky to be able to manage these programs and offer direct impact into the lives of my fellow community members 💗 . This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . #communityovercompetition #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers #reducereuserecycle #weaving #communityart #youthprograms #foodinsecurity #farmtotable #farmtofork

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Finding balance between life on the farm and our off farm jobs that take us away from this life we love so much for 50+ hours (each!) every week continues to be my biggest challenge. Milking the goats has manifested as one of our biggest headaches for the past few years and has really only recently fallen steadily into our morning routines...because, let’s face it, a milk goat that isn’t milked is just a *really expensive pet, and that is truly unsustainable and kinda knuckle-headed. And so, yes, we still only milk once a day, but with three mamas in milk we get about a half gallon each day and are happy with that as it’s enough to keep us personally in cheese all week as well as gives us a bit to share with family and friends. Truth be told, it’s not about whether that jar is half empty or half full, it’s the fact that there’s milk in there at all at this point 😊 This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . . . . #worksmarternotharder #onthebrightside #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers #dairygoats #learningcurve #goat #goats #goatsofinstagram #nigeriandwarfgoat #farmanimals #farmlife #homestead

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About four years ago we decided, kind of on a whim, to leave our little urban farm in the city and move to a place with enough land for planting a few crops as well as space for us to expand our small flock of chickens, get a few #goats, and maybe raise a couple of turkeys for Thanksgiving. We we’ve been lucky enough to easily find a sweet spot to land for three years before finding our current caretaking gig (which speaks to the aging and changing lives of our farming community). With a small herd of #NigerianDwarfGoats (for milk and cheese) a flock of 20 #LayingHens (for pest control and eggs), six #BlueSlate #turkeys this year (for ours and other’s Thanksgiving tables), and more than a few #ducks floating around now (for pest control, eggs, and meat), our dreams have both been realized and expanded! Kune Kune pigs, a mini milk cow or two, and maybe even a mini pony sit on the horizon along with big ideas around diversified crops, a quilt of incomes, and some agri-tourism...all in the next three to five years. Oh! And I can’t forget Akuna, our #greatpyrenees #LGD and our #barncats who help keep our little ecosystem safe and in check while adding a bit of fluff to our days 💗 This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . . . . #communityovercompetition #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers #knowitorgrowit #nofarmsnofood #farmanimals #fresheggsdaily #farmdreams #workhard #haveabigdream

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Well, would you look at that?! Our Mama Duck’s clutch is hatching as we speak! Does it get any cuter than a fluffy duckling? I think not! 🐣 This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . . . . #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers #ducks #duckling #eggs #fromwhereIstand #muscovyducks #ducksofinstagram #backyardpoultry #backyardpoultrymag #freerange #lifeisbeautiful #farmlife #farming #nothingisordinary #iamcountryside

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Last fall, when we first found out about the #caretaking gig we’re now happily in, it kinda sounded too good to be true...rent trade for care of a 60-tree #orchard, 450 linear feet of #blackberries and #raspberries, and general maintenance on a gorgeous little ten-year-old house...and we keep 70% of anything harvested to do with as we so choose (eat fresh, preserve, sell). We also have access to all of our landlords tools (tractor, BCS, etc), can plant whatever we choose on the two established fields, and are free to keep our menagerie of farm animals on the property. Not only does this opportunity allow us get ourselves straight financially on our way towards our Big Dreams of owning our own Ag property, but we are learning so much about orchard and berry care! We both work full time jobs an hour away from the farm, so we’re exhausted all.the.time but we are also so very happy and so deeply grateful for the opportunity to live and learn on an amazing piece of Ag land in NM with excellent water rights! 💗 This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 . . . . #communityovercompetition #firstgenerationfarmers #littlehouseinelvalle #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #countryqueers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers

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Hello and Happy Friday! I’m Melissa of @evergrowingfarm and I’m excited to post for @countryqueers all week! My wife and I began our farming journey about 8 years ago when we began transforming the 1/8 acre our house sat on in the middle of my hometown into a mini #urbanfarm. What started out as a couple of tomatoes quickly transformed into several espalier fruit trees, raised beds everywhere they’d fit, a handful of chickens, and a top bar hive of bustling honey bees! Fast forward 8 years and we’ve not only outgrown our 1/8 acre urban farm and spent the last three years on 11 acres up by Abiquiu but we’ve landed in the most amazing middle step on our way toward our dreams and are now caretaking 10 gorgeous acres in a tiny village on the Pecos River! This is @evergrowingfarm posting for #countryqueers 👩🏻‍🌾 I’m looking forward to sharing a bit of our journey with you here in this space over the next week! ✨ . . . . #communityovercompetition #firstgenerationfarmers #thinkglobalchooselocal #lesbianfarmers #queerswhofarm #queerfarmers

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Next up: Melissa @evergrowingfarm in NM! Follow along July 13-19, 2018! . . Thanks to @hipstergardener for the Georgia farm adventures last week!

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Goodnight to all the #countryqueers out there and the people who love them! It was such a pleasure giving you a glimpse into my life as the (✨gay✨) organic farm manager here @whiteoakpastures. Moving to a rural area was a big decision for me and I am grateful each day I wake up surrounded by such beauty (natural, social, and #queer). If watching arguments between a flock of 17 #chickens and #gay singles is your thing, feel free to continue following on my personal account. 🌱 This was @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers ❤️

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i am your friend. a soul for your soul. a place for your life. home. know this. sun or water. here or away. we are a lighthouse. we leave. and we stay. —lighthouse 🌱 This poem by @nayyirah.waheed from her work, salt, truly resonated with me when I searched for a way to describe the farm. #WhiteOakPastures is host to one of the most unique communities in the region. What started off as a family farm, then an industrial cattle operation, then finally a #regenerative and #sustainable organic ranch has become a welcoming place for a wide range of people. In this special post, I’ve included other #queer farmers I am lucky enough to call friends and coworkers. Pictured with me is Sarah Jordan, one of my dearest friends and our Senior Gardener. This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers #chosenfamily

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Our growing season in SW Georgia is a long one. With some careful planning, we are able to grow food year round in this #subtropical climate. To get a head start on the seasons, we seed crops by hand in the #greenhouse several weeks before putting them out in the field. Sometimes after working in the vibrant growth of outside, I like to come work here in this tidy, organized environment to help collect my thoughts for the next day. And yes, that is a native #milkweed in the foreground! We do our part each year by dedicating several thousand square feet of #garden to help sustain our #pollinators. This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers #regenerativeagriculture

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The town where I live (Bluffton, GA) is home to White Oak Pastures. This #grassfed and #pastured ranch is Georgia’s largest #sustainable, organic farm and is the only one in the nation that humanely hand butchers ten different species of animals on site—all under USDA inspection. 🌱 My role on the on the farm is that of Organic Garden manager. My department is responsible for supplying #organic produce to our restaurant, general store, and online store. We also play a leading role in the revitalization effort of the town. I started in this capacity one year ago and am still so in awe of this place. The natural surroundings, the work, the people, and how pleasant it was to transition to rural life. I still travel to cities often for work and to visit my loved ones, but my day-to-day is spent in this #queer-friendly (I’d even say loving) and surprisingly busy community. 🌱 Also haters will say it’s fake, but I had a full-ass #beard just over a month ago. I got tired of washing the sweat out of it so y’all gonna have to wait til it gets cold again. There was a regional gay outcry that echoed through the gulf coastal plains when my beard returned to the earth, but last time I checked hair grows so #byeee This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers! #godblockedit #regenerativeagriculture #firstgenerationfarmers

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Patiently waiting for this field of okra to FINALLY START PRODUCING. In this SW Georgia heat, okra thrives. This member of the hibiscus family is important not only as a source of nutrition, but for its cultural significance. Enslaved West African peoples hid #okra seeds in their hair and brought it to the New World (how is the world new when people were already living there ok wow can we say revisionist history). When I plant okra I see it as a symbol of defiance against oppression—a way of resisting the erasure of one’s culture through the act of planting a seed. I’m inspired by the vigor, beauty, and history of this amazing plant. This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers #regenerativeagriculture

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Quick break before heading into our restaurant to work with our servers. I was lucky enough to work as a host, gardener, and server in a few of Atlanta’s finest farm-to-table establishments. These service jobs taught me a great deal about making people feel welcome while diplomatically setting firm boundaries of #respect. Now off to train a new crop of babies. More on my role on the farm this weekend. This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers!

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Diversity. Good for plants. Good for people. Living in a rural area has been a refreshing change. Whether in cities or in small towns I tend to stick out. The sheer volume of people in urban areas usually results in more frequent instances of, “what are you?” “where are you from?” “what’s your nationality?” “where were you born?” “wow you’re so exotic” “are you Pakistani or Indian?” In Bluffton I’ve noticed a special kind of sincerity, kindness, and genuine curiosity. The meanest thing someone called me to my face was “yankee” because I’m from the #ATL. Most southerners don’t count Atlanta as The South, but I promise you it is. Oh, and to answer the previous questions: Capricorn, Georgia, American, Atlanta, ok but also not a zoo animal, sure. This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers! #biodiversity #hybridvigor #queerasfarm #southernenough

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This is @hipstergardener posting for #countryqueers! I live in the small town of Bluffton, GA in the southwest corner of the state—think near Florida and near Alabama. Being born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, I never imagined that life would bring me to the rural Deep South. I am proud to say that Bluffton, GA is an incredibly unique place where I’ve found community, support, and good work. Looking forward to giving y’all a glimpse into my experience #queerstories #regenerativeagriculture #yallmeansall

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Next up: Bilal @hipstergardener in Bluffton, GA. Follow along July 5-11, 2018 for some red dirt farming stories! . . Thanks to @kingandkingranch & @kaikrupa for the wonderful food filled takeover this past week!

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