After pausing a minute to gaze at a patch of his farm washed away by a torrential downfall earlier this summer, Jonathan Darby went back to raking his soil into theoretically weatherproof mounds.
Darby, of Hellam Township, didn't grow up wanting to be a farmer. But he now works on two farms and manages one of them, spending nearly all his time in agriculture.
Born and raised in Red Lion, the 35-year-old traveled for several years before moving back to Pennsylvania and has worked as a massage therapist and in kayak sales, touring and instruction.
Six years ago, he started working at the Goldfinch Farm in Wrightsville.
This year, he switched to doing that job part time in order to join Horn Farm's
newly started Incubator Farms Project, which prepares aspiring farmers to buy and work their own land.
As of last month, he also acts as farm manager of Horn Farm.
'Way of life': Darby said farming as a career grew out of his lifelong activism and belief in locally sourced produce.
"We're at a point in time in our culture where I think we need to approach a more local way of life," he said. "A lot of the agriculture around here isn't directly growing food for the table, which is a need that really needs to be met."
One of three farmers in the project, he works a plot just smaller than two acres for up to 14 hours a day.
He named it Sterling Farm after his grandfather, who spent his life working on a farm in York County.
He routinely starts working around 5 a.m. and said he never leaves the farm for more 24 hours at a time.
"I don't think that there's been a day in the last month that I haven't been out here for some purpose," he said.
He grows everything from tomatoes to sweet peas to arugula, using a number of farming techniques including companion planting -- putting together plants that benefit each other -- and no-till raised beds, where soil is raked into horizontal ridges to deal with rainfall and minimize the amount of tilling necessary.
How it's used: He said about half his produce goes directly to individuals through the Community Supported Agriculture program, in which people pay to receive a share of a farm's crops throughout the season.
Those interested in getting involved for next year can search for local programs on www.localharvest.org/csa/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of his customers take advantage of an option he offers by which they work on the farm in exchange for some of the produce. Others, including his children, ages 6 and 9, volunteer their time for free.
The other half of his yield is sold to local markets. He and the other workers at Horn Farm plan to open a produce stand outside of the farm's corn barn on Wednesdays and Saturdays sometime in early August.
Although it is only his first year, he said the farm has already proved profitable.
Beyond his own plot, he has also been working at Horn Farm's mission -- to encourage agriculture moving local. As farm manager, he is in charge of overseeing operations at the farm and organizing educational outreach.
"I really want to push the educational side to things here," he said. "I would love to see everyone growing their own foods until it makes my job obsolete."