A short story about my summer internship last year....
Finding a random, small family farm in upstate New York, agreeing to live with total strangers for two months, and hoping to learn how to make farmstead cheese somewhere other than California… these were what my summer internship plans started
as, but evolved to be much, much more. For all of last July and August I was a west coast aggie immersed in the east coast farm life. I was lucky enough to become a part of The Hoffman Family last summer, learning not only what it takes to run a small farmstead creamery and manage the family farm, but what it really
means to be a farmer and live “the life”. Everyone involved in agriculture knows that it’s a 24-7 job, and while with the Hoffman’s I learned it’s a FAMLY 24-7 job. Being a part of the history and traditions of a small town everyone day, witnessing the love and dedication of family members to give back to where they came from and the endless determination and fight against unpredictable
situations like crazy weather and equipment breaking, really opened my eyes to how different the country is. I gained so much more than just the knowledge of the dairy and creamery during my stay; I found a home away from, so different yet so similar to Sonoma County where I'm originally from. Living in Odessa all summer I never seemed to be homesick because Odessa was like a parallel to home. They too support local ag, 4-H, FFA, and enjoy their fine wines. As similar as they are, there are many different things about the east coast aggie vs. what I have been raised around. The mentality of the farmers and families were more laid back, old fashion, and so genuine and loving. I was instantly accepted with open arms to a whole community anticipating my arrival. Living in “’Mare-ca” as they jokingly call the U.S., exposed me to a lifestyle I have always dreamed about and desired. Everyone in the small community was so content in their old ways because they worked, why change something when life is good. And it wasn’t as though I was out in the boonies completely all summer, after all the big store to visit was of course a Wal-Mart! And yes, you can buy live tackle there, from a vending machine! Finding pleasure in life in Odessa was simple, life was simple and satisfying. I honestly enjoyed making cheese in 80 degree weather with extreme humidity, even if the process took 12 hours because we pasteurized the old fashion way. I loved getting to work in the farm store and meet locals and chat with tourist, and getting to help with everyday farm chores. Yet I still had time to go wood-chuck hunting, take walks in the fields with the dogs, and take part in all the town and family festivities like The Wine Festival and having Buffalo wings and beer at bar every Wednesday. Not only was the community and Hoffman Family able to teach me about life and understanding who I am and want to be, I was able to enlighten them from my own California and Cal Poly student perspective. I enjoyed having conversations on California and national dairy, water, and farm issues, and offer new farm and creamery ideas and answer their questions with my knowledge. Or trying to give them the explanation of why we have such a diverse, radical, and fast pace state. And convincing them that California earthquakes are not that bad, and that we are most definitely not going to break off from the US and float away. Realizing how different we both were from the typical stereotypes of CA and NY brought us closer and to a better understanding of the world around us, or better yet the 3,000 miles
between us. My summer in Odessa is one I will never forget, and something I will cherish it forever!
I cant believe it has already been a year! I feel a little lost without all my NY friends and adopted family as the summer has started.... but I am excited to say I am planning a trip to visit in the beginning of September so I can catch up! My favorite local cheese curds and sweet wines are constantly on my mind and I am ready to satisfy the cravings ;) yes"">