by Anjelica Jardiel & Alex Rabe; photos by Anjelica Jardiel
“Rag: a worn or old piece of fabric, often used to mend or clean.
Frass: caterpillar poop, often containing natural bloom stimulants and beneficial micro-organisms.” - Taken from RagandFrassFarm.com
In the beginning of May, I took a trip from my home in NYC to Georgia to visit my friend Alex. She saved up some money, sold all her stuff, and bought a camper van named Donna, drove across the country, away from her bartending and modeling hustle in Los Angeles to live and work on a farm, growing everything she eats. I spent a couple days with her and her pup Indie on Rag & Frass (started in January of 2013 by Julia Asherman) in Jeffersonville, mid-way between Atlanta and Savannah.
For the first time in my life, I woke up at dawn to let the chickens and ducks out. I ate eggs laid hours before they hit the frying pan. I saw how asparagus grows out of the ground. I plucked strawberries off the stem and popped them right into my mouth.
I shelled micro greens and nibbled on sugar snap peas straight off the vine. I hung out with a handful of dogs and a couple cats and a pig named Mermaid who would bang her head on the door when she wanted to come hang out. I swam naked in a private pond, a quarter-mile hike from the farm. I complained that my back hurt after a single afternoon.
It’s been about 5 months since Alex got up and changed her life. This is what she shared with me.
”It's hard to describe what the difference is between city life and country life. In my old life, driving 30 miles meant driving for 2 hours. Here (Jeffersonville, Georgia), it means 30 minutes. I went from stressing about rent, groceries and car insurance to stressing about getting a crop of onions out of the ground before they rot in the rain.
I have my dog with me 24/7. The best is looking over at him sleeping in a row while I'm planting or harvesting something. I wasn't expecting to love the long hard days, but I do.
And ending them with an ice cold beer is one of the most refreshing things ever. I've never appreciated the small things in life so much until I moved to a place where you can't access whatever you want, whenever you want.
I love the simplicity of this life. Plucking an asparagus or strawberry or tomato right from the field and popping it in your mouth has got to be the most glorious taste after having put in the work to grow it."
Founder of Rag and Frass Julia explained to me that farming isn’t glamorous, which is why her farm was given its name. It’s dirty, there’s bugs everywhere, sometimes they bite, living things die and rot.
It’s hard work at the mercy of the weather. There are no days off. This kind of work is a daunting commitment to a freelancer like me. But there really was no better feeling than laying on the private dock in the middle of the pond, surrounded by goose poop, sun beating down, eyes closed, alive and satisfied.