farming, introductions, produce stand

Our first Friday!


Hello all!

We had our first and successful Friday at Music on the Porch at Seaboard Station! Thank you to all our neighbors for your support. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you!

This blog will be our digital mouthpiece until a website is created but we’ll stick with this for now. We will post weekly, detailing work on the farm, what will be available the next Friday and any other information of interest.

We also have an email list which will also give updates and links to our newest blog entries. Please contact us at shields.ben@gmail.com to sign up for our emails with Ben’s Produce in the subject line.

About us, Ben and Patricia:

I, Ben, grew up in Massachusetts on two farms, splitting my time between my father and step-mother’s dairy farm in the south-eastern part of the state and my mother’s homestead in the hills of the western part of the state. Farming and the agrarian lifestyle are ingrained in me. I love the work and its rewards. I couldn’t think of doing anything else but that’s not to say I haven’t.

After I graduated from UMass with a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable International Development, I worked with twin historic home restoration Master Craftsmen (Bob and Jim of Phaneuf Construction Services, Northampton, MA.) where I learned trade skills and great attention to detail. Doing well in historic home renovations like any other business is partially based on attention to details. This principle also applies to farming. There are many facets of agri-business to attend to and they all fit together like a house. If any one part does not function correctly, other parts fail to function correctly as well. I am continually amazed at all the facets involved in farming and growing healthy food as I continue to learn about nature and entrepreneurship.

During that time with the Phaneuf brothers, I spent 8 months traveling Italy in 2004 working on 7 different organic farms though the Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WOOFF). This experience with real Italian families that value authentic food and the culture that surrounds and spawns from it was indispensable in shaping my understanding of food as a foundation of culture. More on this subject another time…

I moved to New York City in November of 2006 to experience life in the city. I have been in love with the intense and expansive culture of such a metropolis since my first taste as a child. The food, art, music and people of New York hold a special place in my heart. I just love it! I was lucky to land a temp-to-perm job with the Direct Marketing branch of the Smithsonian Magazine where I got to experience life as a nine to fiver. I took the subway into Grand Central Station and could enter my building from the causeway! Amazing! But as the old adage goes, nice place to visit but wouldn’t want to live there. I missed the smell of humus in the soil, the freedom from concrete and the peace and quiet of the country. Oakdale and Mordecai aren’t quite the country but is more so than Astoria, Queens! But working the fields on the Wake/Johnston Co. line do allow for quenching of my desires.

I met Patricia through our mutual friend Ely in September of 2007 while visiting the Ely in Nashville, Tennessee. We started to date New Years Day 2008 and decided to move to Raleigh together when she was accepted to the Sociology Ph.D. program at NC State. I found Tom Kumpf of Double-T Farm through the internet and we have a good fit for both of us. He is expanding his farm in leaps and bounds and I wanted a good farmer to learn from.

Guy showed up in our backyard last Sunday, wondering where all the laughter was coming from. One thing lead to another and we had ourselves a vegetable stand at Music on the Porch! He even got us a little radio publicity on 100.7 The River this past Friday! Patricia and I got a text from a friend saying he heard a spotlight about an organic vegetable stand at Music on the Porch! Kudos Guy!

Anyhow, I’ve written a lot for one post and I need to let Patricia get a few words in, so I will bid adieu until Friday! See y’all then! Cheers!

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’ – Lewis Carroll (from Alice in Wonderland)

A Brief Introduction…

My full name is Patricia Anna Lisa Parker. I was born June 1st, 1980. That makes me 29 years old. I am a single, white, middle class female. My father is retired U.S. Army, my mother is now a U.S. citizen, but was born and raised in Bavaria. I have three brothers, one sister, five nephews and three nieces. Until my dad retired in 1992, we moved almost every year. I’ve lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and various places in Germany. I attended three different schools for kindergarten. I love to travel; I love to move.

I began my academic career in 1998. I was a Psychology major as an undergraduate and soon realized that discipline was not for me. However, I wanted to graduate in four years, so I stuck with it and made it work for me. I completed an undergraduate thesis with the following title: “Can Men Have PMDD Too?: An Investigation of the Validity of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder as a Psychiatric Construct.” At a very basic level, my study could be described as a sociological study of psychology. If you’re curious, men can have PMDD too, if you ignore the menses requirement. It’s my paranoid belief that the DSM creates mental illnesses hand in hand with pharmaceutical companies. It’s all too convenient that the PMDD classification appeared just as Ely Lilly lost their patent for Prozac. Their solution for PMDD?: Prozac renamed and repackaged. The green and beige pill formerly known as Prozac was transformed into a pink and purple pill with the ability to give any woman angelic qualities – hence the new name, Sarafem (as in Seraphim). My mentors in the Psychology department helped me realize I was a sociologist at heart – so Sociology became my new academic pursuit.

Upon graduating with my B.S., I decided to move to Maui and wait tables. When that didn’t happen, I applied to the Master’s program at Middle Tennessee State University. My plan two? I was going to join the Air Force and try to get a job in the Psychological Operations division. Good thing I made it into the program!

While attempting to find my particular passion in Sociology, I worked on three different research topics. Somehow I graduated only one semester behind schedule. I changed topics for legitimate reasons, and if you’re interested, I’ll elaborate in person. Here are the titles of those three papers (the last being my Master’s thesis): “How Women Talk About Sex,” “Globalization, Urban Revitalization, Community Building, and Homicides in a Southeastern City,” and “Women, Children, and Poverty: Public Health Care in the Age of Welfare Reform.” The first was purely qualitative; the second and third were both qualitative and quantitative studies. I received my Master’s degree in December of 2005. January of 2006 I became an adjunct instructor at MTSU. Fall of 2006 marked my first semester as a full-time instructor. As a full-time instructor, I taught five classes each semester, including: Marriage and Family, Sociology of Families, Introductory Sociology, Social Problems, and Gender and Society. Each semester was comprised of three lecture classes and two correspondence courses. In 2008 I received the Best OWL Professor award. OWL stands for “Older Wiser Learners.”

As you can tell, I’m interested in a variety of topics. I am currently working toward earning my PhD in Sociology at NC State. As part of my assistantship, I teach one course per semester. “Officially” my areas are Global and Social Change and Rural Sociology. I’m interested both academically and personally in farming. My partner, Ben, works as a farmer apprentice (I worked on the farm this summer too) and, as you now know (or already knew), we just began selling our produce Fridays from 7-9 p.m. at Music on the Porch at Seaboard Station.

Ben’s passion for farming has converted me. Before I met him, I never imagined I’d be interested in the farming lifestyle. Although now that I think about it, it makes sense that I do and Ben didn’t have to do anything but talk to me about farming to convert me. We’re in our infancy stages in terms of beginning our lives as farmers and it’s very exciting. For now, I will have to focus most of my time and energy on academics, but I will also be spending time and energy on our farming and produce stand pursuits. Ultimately, I’m interested in creating social change through teaching/learning, community development and growing food.

What else can I tell you? We have an awesome dog, Charlie. He’s a mutt. I think he’s part German Sheppard, Collie, coyote, cat, bear, gazelle and mountain goat. If you ever meet him, you’ll understand my classification. Some of our family activities include: going for walks, gardening (Charlie helps weed), cooking awesome dinners, camping and listening to good music on vinyl. I have more interests and more to say, but I feel I’ve abused the subjectivity of the word “brief”, so I will do as the introductory quote says and STOP.

OK – so I’m not stopping just yet ;). I just wanted to let ya’ll know that we’re going to post on this blog regularly. Ben or I will post a list of the produce we’ll be offering at Seaboard Station for Music on the Porch later this week. We will also post more information about “Ben’s Produce” soon.

Thanks for reading.

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