Recent Trevecca graduate Taylor Flemming is taking over the Urban Farm as the new farm manager this semester.
Flemming, who graduated in December of 2016, started his position as the urban farm manager on January third. He said it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
“It was actually during a time when my wife and I were trying to decide what was next,” he said. “We were praying about it and there was one night when we were talking — we prayed very specifically that God would give us direction and wisdom and then the next morning Jason Adkins called me.”
Jason Adkins, the environmental projects coordinator and farm director, told Taylor that the previous farm manager was getting ready to leave. Taylor said he interview with Adkins and was offered the job. Taylor had interned with Adkins on the farm the summer after his sophomore year so he was familiar with how the system worked.
“Taylor was a really ideal candidate for the position. He’s got a lot of energy and passion. He already knows our system. It’s good to have someone come in who didn’t need to be taught,” said Adkins.
Flemming’s job is to run the farm and take care of daily chores so Adkins can focus on teaching and administrative work. He takes care of the animals, plants, grows, and harvests food, and helps oversee student workers.
“It’s difficult to grow the farm when I’m full time managing the farm. To grow the program we have to find students that need to be studying with us and form partnerships with organizations that have similar aims. I also teach classes and write grants and do administrative work around the farm,” Adkins said. “All that takes time and Taylor is building up the program and finding funding we weren't able to do before. So many projects get put on the back burner. [The farm] will be more functional because of the projects we can accomplish.”
Flemming interned with two other farms this past year — Hopewell Gardens and Hands On Nashville Urban Farm. Adkins said this gave Flemming an outside perspective that allowed him to bring new ideas to the farm. Flemming is helping Adkins grow the marketing and sales aspect of the farm in order to make it more self-sustaining.
“We’ve been an educational farm mostly. We want to sell more of our produce so we can become financially sustainable as well as show students how to make money farming. That’s an aspect that’s rising and one of the particulars that he’s helping with,” said Adkins.
Adkins said some of the profits from their sales will be allocated towards supporting Flemming’s position, which is only part time. The position will be made full time in the future, but there is no telling when, as Adkins is still in the process of applying for grants. Flemming didn’t seem concerned, though. He said this is exactly what he wants to be doing with his life and he doesn’t need much.
“My ultimate goal would be to be a part of something very similar to what we’re doing here at Trevecca — have a farm through which I can do life with a community — a community in need — a community that’s impoverished,” he said. “I want caring for the earth and living within my means and the resources around me to be something that I just practice as a lifestyle.”
He said he likes the idea of living on a homestead where he can grow everything and employ people like refugees and ex-convicts. He also said working on the farm has shaped his faith in a lot of ways and changed the way he feels about his food.
“The thing that comes to mind right now is, in our walk with Christ we talk about dying and losing our life for the sake of finding it and you look at Christ’s death and how his death brought us life,” he said. “In farming we are directly involved in this cycle of life and death and in order for us to eat, something must die. In order for us to have life we have to directly invite death. When you’re disconnected from your food you don’t necessarily see that.”
Flemming doesn’t see himself leaving the farm anytime soon.
“Jason — he’s really good about investing in those who work with him and he’s an amazing teacher so he really wants to invest in me and so for that, I want to stay and grow in my experience,” he said. “It’s hard for me to imagine having a better place to really learn and to learn intentionally why I’m doing what I’m doing.”