By: Christina Bailey, Amy Fielder, and Sadikshya Aryal
B&W photo below taken by: Sarene Cullen
Amy Fiedler is the epitome of a strong and motivated woman. One of her many strengths is her ability to create and utilize community. Her friendly personality and outgoing spirit attract others to join her in her admirable life endeavor of being a force in the organic and local food movements. She has given many interns, volunteers, and school groups the opportunity to get their hands dirty with experience and to become inspired by the successful farming operation she has created. Taking a peek into Amy's past helped to explain why she is such a beautiful blend of charm and authenticity.
Amy grew up outside of Manhattan, the most populated borough of New York City. Despite being a young city girl, she was exposed at a young age to the beauty and thrill of being completely submerged in nature. Her family would take her and her siblings on backpacking adventures around the country for weeks at a time, trekking through some of the most breathtaking places in our country including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. In addition to these eye opening escapades, Amy and her siblings used to spend weeks at a time over the summers living with their grandparents in Southern Indiana on a 100+ acre cattle farm. Amy remembers how amazing it felt being on their farm. Thinking back on those times now, she appreciates how hard her grandparents actually worked to make that dream a reality.
In 2008, after receiving a degree in Secondary Education/English from Appalachian State University and working as a massage therapist, Amy decided to explore what would become her life's passion; farming. As a single mom with two kids, Amy began her farming venture in Vilas, North Carolina with her mother, who she credits for the detail organization, bookwork, planning, seedling production and CSA deliveries, in addition to arriving on the farm every morning to work alongside her in the fields. Amy manages the farm and does the hands on work with the help of interns and volunteers in the community. "Farming is a lifestyle, and it can be a sustainable one,” says Amy. The last 7 years of her life have proven that to be the case.
Springhouse Farm is a certified organic vegetable, pasture raised meat, and honey farm. "Good, organic, local, clean food is highly valued in this area,” says Amy. “Our food is the first medicine we put into our bodies besides the water we drink and the air we breathe." Luckily for farms like Springhouse, this is an idea that people are waking up to. If food is our medicine, then that makes farmers our doctors. It is clear when Amy speaks of her connection to the earth and to people that she is a healer. "Farmers become so hyper sensitive, not only to the land, animals and weather, but also to the people.” She attributes her success to the support given by her extension agency, the camaraderie with other farmers, and the network of local organizations and community members supporting small family farms in the area.
Amy is not only an incredibly hard working farmer, she is also a teacher and a mentor. She loves showing other curious souls the ways of farming. "I'm a people person, I love to work with people and show them the farm. I'm good at something and I've had experience doing it, so I love sharing that!... It's like society has lost touch with something that the farm brings back. I'm intrigued with this idea of how it is healing to work in the dirt and with the pigs." People who have spent time on Amy's farm speak of her inspiration and of being touched by their experiences at Springhouse Farm. "As an intern, Amy welcomed me with open arms. She's the kind of person who becomes your best-friend within the first five minutes of meeting each other. Amy is as down to earth, genuine and astoundingly beautiful as the Appalachian farming lifestyle that she lives out and shares with others. I am so grateful for the knowledge and sisterhood that Amy has shared with me,” says intern and friend Michelle Dineen.
Although many aspects of farming are romantic and inspirational, farming is not in the least bit a prissy career. Amy states that "When people make it through a whole season on the farm, I'm always amazed if they decide 'Oh yeah, this is what I want to do!' It's not like we just watch the carrots grow... it’s monotonous, backbreaking, and heartbreaking at times and you get out of it what you put into it! It's hard work day after day. It's a continual learning experience. But I hope that people take some nugget of the experience and grow it to do something that I could never dream of."
Amy sells her produce and pastured pork at the Watauga County Farmers market, to New Appalachia and local restaurants, through the High Country CSA, her on-farm produce stand and CSA. To learn more about Amy and Springhouse Farm at www.springhousefarm.net
BRWIA PROFILE PROJECT
Each month we do our best to profile a Woman in Agriculture in our region. These women are diverse - they have come from a variety of backgrounds and include farmers, homesteaders, and activists. They exemplify the multitude of ways women are working to connect with and change our food system.
Female Farmer Profile Project
The BRWIA Profiles evolved out of the Female Farmer Profiles which can be found archived HERE.