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美国大学生流行“下乡”

After Graduating From College, It’s Time to Plow, Plant and Harvest
美国大学生流行“下乡”

RED HOOK, N.Y. — It was harvest time, and several farm hands were hunched over a bed of sweet potatoes under the midday sun, elbow deep in soil for $10 an hour. But they were not typical laborers.

纽约州雷德胡克——现在是收获的季节,在正午阳光的照耀下,几个农场工人弯着腰在红薯地里劳作,手上沾满了泥土,他们每小时的薪酬只有10美元。不过他们并不是普通的农民。

Jeff Arnold, 28, who has learned how to expertly maneuver a tractor, graduated from Colorado State University. Abe Bobman, 24, who studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, was clearing vines alongside Nate Krauss-Malett, 25, who went to Skidmore College.

28岁的杰夫·阿诺德(Jeff Arnold) 毕业于科罗拉多州立大学(Colorado State University),他已经学会熟练驾驶拖拉机。24岁的阿贝·包博曼(Abe Bobman) 正在农田里清理藤蔓,他曾在康涅狄格州卫斯理安大学(Wesleyan University)学习社会学,旁边是25岁的内特·克劳斯-马莱特(Nate Krauss-Malett),他曾就读于斯基德莫尔学院(Skidmore College)。

Mr. Krauss-Malett said he became interested in farming after working in a restaurant and seeing how much food was wasted. Mr. Bobman had the same realization working in the produce section at a grocery store before college.

克劳斯-马莱特说,他过去在餐馆工作,看到许多食物被人们浪费,于是对农业产生浓厚的兴趣。包博曼也有同样的感受,他上大学前在杂货店的农产品区工作。
 

随着美国农场数量日渐增加,有些大学毕业生开始投身农业,从劳动中获得经验,比如27岁的乔丹·施密特。

They had been in the fields here at Hearty Roots Community Farm in the Hudson Valley since 7 a.m. They all said they could not imagine doing any other job.

在哈德逊谷的哈特鲁茨社区农场,他们从早上7点开始下田干活。他们都表示,自己从来没有想过做其他工作。

“Farming appeals to me, and probably to other people, because it’s simple and straightforward work outdoors with literal fruits from your labor,” Mr. Bobman said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re a part of an oppressive institution.”

包博曼说,“做农活儿对我很有吸引力,可能对其他人来说也是如此,因为这是简单直接的户外工作,你可以通过劳动收获果实。这不会让你感觉自己属于一家让人备感压抑的机构。”

For decades, the number of farmers has been shrinking as a share of the population, and agriculture has often been seen as a backbreaking profession with little prestige. But the last Agricultural Census in 2007 showed a 4 percent increase in the number of farms, the first increase since 1920, and some college graduates are joining in the return to the land.

过去几十年来,美国农民占总人口的比例逐渐减少,务农通常被看做不体面的辛苦工作。但是2007年最新的美国农业普查结果显示,农场的数量增加了4%,1920年以来首次出现增长,有些大学毕业生也加入了回归农田的行列。

Jordan Schmidt, a crew manager here at Hearty Roots, studied environmental science at Wesleyan. Ms. Schmidt, 27, did not have so much as a garden growing up, but in college, she said, she worked at a student-run farm and fell in love with agriculture. So she gave up on research science and moved onto a farm in Pennsylvania after graduating. This is her third season at Hearty Roots.

乔丹·施密特(Jordan Schmidt)是哈特鲁茨农场的人事经理,她曾在卫斯理安大学主修环境科学。27岁的施密特说,打小除了养花,她没怎么做过农活,但是在大学期间,她在一家学生经营的农场工作,对农业产生了热爱。她在毕业后放弃科学研究,前往宾夕法尼亚州的一家农场工作。这是她在哈特鲁茨农场工作的第三个收获季节。

Hearty Roots, about 100 miles north of New York City, spans 70 acres with a clear view of the Catskill Mountains to the west. At the height of the harvest this year, the farm produced 8,000 pounds of vegetables a week — including peppers, beets and kale — and employed 10 workers. None of them came from farming backgrounds and most had heard about the job through word of mouth.

哈特鲁茨农场位于纽约市以北约100英里,占地面积70英亩,能够清楚地看到西边的卡茨基尔山。在今年收获季节的高峰期,这家雇用了10名工人的农场每周生产8000磅蔬菜——包括辣椒、甜菜和羽衣甘蓝。这些工人都没有务农的背景,大多数人是通过别人介绍而得知了这份工作。

Ms. Schmidt recalled that her first time working on a farm, she loaded thousands of onions into a greenhouse to dry out, which was supposed to improve their flavor. But the roof was left uncovered, and when she returned the next day, many of the onions had been spoiled by the sun.

施密特回忆了她第一次在农场工作的经历,她把几千头洋葱搬进温室干燥,这原本是为了改善洋葱的口味。但是温室的顶篷没有盖上,她第二天回去看的时候发现很多洋葱都被太阳晒坏了。

“They were caramelized,” she explained, lowering her eyes. Even with experience, she said, she still makes mistakes. Last year, she left a batch of sweet potatoes outside overnight, and they froze.

她目光低垂,解释说,“洋葱都晒焦了”。 施密特说,即使有了工作经验,她依然还会犯错。去年,她把一批红薯放在外面一整夜,结果都冻坏了。

Still, she is experienced enough now to command a small group of farmers at Hearty Roots. It took some time, though, for her parents to come to terms with her profession.

不过,她依然有足够的务农经验来指导哈特鲁茨农场的这群工人。尽管她的父母花了好些时间才接受她的职业。

“They’re like: ‘Can you make it like that? Can you make it and have kids?’ ” she said. But they have slowly come around, and now, Ms. Schmidt said, her mother is an organic food activist among her friends. (Her brother wants to be a writer.)

施密特说,“他们是这么说的,‘你能在这种地方谋生吗?你能在农场工作的同时养孩子吗?’”但是他们慢慢地接受了现实。她的母亲开始在朋友中间积极推广有机食品。(她的哥哥则想成为一名作家。)

Hiring college students for the farm can have drawbacks.

农场雇用大学生也有不利的方面。

“Most of the people here who work for me are here for one season and then move on to other farms, and so that’s actually the biggest challenge,” said Ben Shute, who owns Hearty Roots with his wife, Lindsey. “Every year it’s like training new people.”

本·舒特(Ben Shute)和妻子林赛(Lindsey)是哈特鲁茨农场的主人,舒特说,“大部分工人只为我们工作一个季节,然后转到其他农场,这是我们最难解决的问题。我们每年都要培训新员工。”

But he said it was worth having such a staff.

但是他说雇用这些员工是值得的。

“A lot of these people are like ambitious young people who want to farm for themselves,” Mr. Shute said, so they are motivated to learn quickly.

“很多工人都是怀有志向的年轻人,他们为了自己的目标来到农场,”舒特说,所以他们充满动力,学东西很快。

On the East End of Long Island, Sean Frazier, 23, and four others, all recent college graduates in their mid-20s, work on Quail Hill farm in Amagansett and have become close friends. Mr. Frazier, a Princeton graduate who until his senior year wanted to get a Ph.D. in physics, said his father wished that he was doing “something more intellectual, or something that’s harder.”

在长岛东端,23岁的肖恩·弗雷泽(Sean Frazier)和四个同伴在阿曼甘塞特的鹌鹑山农场工作,他们都是20多岁的应届大学毕业生,彼此都是好朋友。弗雷泽毕业于普林斯顿大学,他在大学四年级的时候打算攻读物理学博士学位,他的父亲希望他能够“从事更有技术含量,或者难度更高的工作。”

“He thinks I should be using my math skills,” Mr. Frazier said.

弗雷泽说,“他认为我应该运用自己的数学才能。”

Like the workers in the Hudson Valley, the ones in Amagansett have had their share of misadventures. Mr. Frazier recalled that the first time he tried to collect eggs from under a chicken, he was pecked on his hands, surprisingly hard, and promptly switched (though briefly) to a feet-first technique.

像哈德逊谷的工人一样,阿曼甘塞特的工人也有他们自己的倒霉事。弗雷泽回忆说,他第一次收鸡蛋的时候,被鸡啄破了手,这项工作难得出人意料,他很快养成了把脚先伸进去的习惯(虽然是暂时的)。

Asked if he felt he was missing out on the city lifestyle, Mr. Frazier reflected for a moment. “I much more feel the opposite,” he said. “It would just really bother me to feel like I was inside all day and I was just missing out on everything that happened.”

当问到他是否错过了城市的生活方式时,弗雷泽思考了片刻说,“我觉得恰好相反。整天生活在城市里,错过了身边的所有变化,只会让我感到心烦意乱,”

The federal Agriculture Department said it did not have statistics on the number of college graduates who have become farmers in recent years, but Kathleen A. Merrigan, the deputy agriculture secretary, said in an interview that she believed the profession was becoming more attractive.

美国联邦农业部(Agriculture Department)称,没有统计数据显示近年来大学毕业生投身农业的人数,但是农业部副部长凯瑟琳·A·梅里根(Kathleen A. Merrigan)在采访中说,她相信这个行业会变得越来越有吸引力。

“I always joke that in the old days I used to go to a party and people would say, ‘What do you do for work,’ and I would say, ‘I work in agriculture,’ and I’d be left in the corner somewhere with my gin and tonic,” Ms. Merrigan said. “Now I say I work in agriculture and I’m the belle of the ball.”

梅里根说,“我经常开玩笑说,过去参加派对的时候,人们会问,‘你做什么工作’,我回答道,‘我从事农业’,然后就会被丢到墙角,独自喝着金汤力鸡尾酒。现在如果我说自己从事农业,会成为最耀眼的明星。”

In interviews at the two farms, the workers said that for them, farming was not a fad.

在两家农场的采访中,这些工人都表示,他们选择农业并不是心血来潮。

“I definitely want to end up living on my own farm — that’s definitely my life goal,” said Calvin Kyrkostas, Mr. Frazier’s co-worker, who graduated with a history degree from Oberlin College in Ohio.

弗雷泽的同事卡尔文·基尔克斯塔斯(Calvin Kyrkostas)是俄亥俄州奥伯林学院(Oberlin College)的历史系毕业生,他表示,“我非常希望在自己的农场生活——这就是我的人生目标。”

Mr. Kyrkostas, 25, said he got into agriculture after working on a Missouri farm one summer in college. He said he became addicted to the feeling of accomplishment that came with seeing — and eating — the fruits of his labor after 15-hour workdays.

25岁的基尔克斯塔斯表示,他在大学暑假期间到密苏里州的农场工作,于是决定投身农业。他说自己陶醉于这种成就感——每天工作15个小时后,能够亲眼看到——并且亲自品尝——自己的劳动果实。

And then there was the tractor.

而且农田里还有拖拉机。

“I’m from Long Island, you know, I’m not a country boy, so it was cool to be able to hop on a John Deere,” he said. “It’s like every little boy’s dream to drive a tractor.”

他说,“我来自纽约长岛,你瞧,我不是乡下小子,所以能够驾驶约翰迪尔(John Deere)拖拉机感觉很酷。就像每个小男孩都梦想自己开着一辆拖拉机。”

“You don’t get into farming for the money,” he said. “You do it for the love of the game.”

基尔克斯塔斯说,“你不是为了钱投身农业,而是出于对这个行业的热爱。”
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