Ask Me About My Farm Number 2; Starting from Scratch: two Engineers take on Farming
Posted on November 30 2016
Welcome back to our second Ask Me About My Farm feature! If you grew up on a farm (or maybe you live on one now) you know that most people don't go out and start farming without previous experience or a family tie to farm life. Most People. Meet, Amber, The Brunette Farmette. She's a chemical engineer by day, and a farmer by...well, all other hours of the day and night! Amber and her husband have built their farm from scratch, and her story is a fascinating one.
Who: Amber Stahl, 27
Where: Poconos, PA
What She's Wearing: Old Fashioned Windmill tee in Oatmeal. See it here.
Farms What: Chickens, Pigs, Vegetables, and Fruit
I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University Chemical Engineering department with a focus in biology in 2012. I still was not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up but knew that I wanted to use my science background to work on the world's largest problems by offering environmentally sustainable solutions. I entered the real world working for DuPont, and that is where I began to formulate my strong opinions on the world's food system. Little did I know I would soon be working on THE world's largest problem.
In the summer of 2014, my fiancé's parents presented a unique opportunity to us that enticed us to move to the Poconos. They had a one acre plot that they were not utilizing, and we decided to take on the modern day, first generation millennial farmer and homesteader lifestyle. His family is in the construction business and turned our wildest dreams for a green, sustainable life to a reality. We continue to support ourselves with our engineering jobs, while expanding the farmette.
My fiancé Anthony began building automated systems for our animals, while I started the design for our food plots.
We started out with laying hens, which I quickly scaled up to a full on breeding program. We then took on pigs which was very interesting--remember we are first generation so we learn by trial and error. My fiancé Anthony began building automated systems for our animals, while I started the design for our food plots. We were learning so much that I started my Instagram around this time to share my failures and successes as a means of helping others who might be starting out as well. As I kept experimenting with new crops (and ways to process and preserve our harvests), our family started to prepare for a small scale vineyard. This is now our second year with grapes, and the wine making process is well underway! Each month we take on more and more, small scale at first until we learn enough to scale up. We want to be diverse and agile in this climate, and show people just what can be done in PA through permaculture (permanent agriculture).
My chores include feeding and watering the livestock, and all of the fun cleaning and maintenance that comes with that territory! I am also planting and harvesting the crops from the four food plots, and learning the fruit tree and wine making aspect. Primarily, my main focus is to keep everything alive!
As a chemical engineer, I grew up battling the boys in science and technology, and as a farmHER I get to do the same