Profiles in Courage: J.B. Pickard

Farm Burger in Decatur

Farmer South is–first and foremost–about farmers. Earnest, hopeful, aspiring farmers count, of course. And so today, the subject of the first (and very brief) Farmer South profile actually spotlights a humble apprentice just learning the ropes. Only two months ago, J.B. Pickard gave up the hustle-and-bustle game of a New York stock trader for the slow, sore yet indisputably romantic life of Deep South farm intern. Now, after a kind of whirring existential rush,  Pickard finds himself wrassling hogs and laying drip tape outside of Athens, GA.

In Pickard’s own words:

Well, up until I moved down here in February to work on Full Moon Farms I was living in Brooklyn with my girlfriend, who is for the time being still up in New york. I was working as an equity trader for a brokerage firm on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Within the last few years I started waking up to concerns about my diet, health and food in general. As an exercise I began making all of my food at home, as opposed to eating out all the time. At that point, the source of food became more important to me, and it continued to become more important until all my spare time was spent visiting farms, butcher shops and farmers markets and the hours and days of cooking that ensued.

Finally, one day, a friend of mine suggested I start to blog about it. The blogging focused my attention and made me realize my time after work was significantly more enjoyable than my time at work, and I needed a way to reconcile. I needed to enjoy both. As this passion developed I just gave way to the signs around me and woke up the the idea that I wanted to farm. I wanted to make the food myself. I needed to.

With the encouragement of my family and loved ones I quit my job in November (but worked until year end), pursued an apprenticeship with Jason Mann in December, got the approval in January, and was living in Georgia in February.

You can follow Pickard’s fledgling adventure on his first-rate blog, I’m High on Cooking, already in the running for best Southern farm Web site.

Considering Pickard’s current professional allegiances, I would be remiss not to mention Full Moon Farms’ companion Athens restaurant, Farm 255, or its new Atlanta effort, Farm Burger, a 100 percent grass-fed and locally-sourced hamburger joint soon to open in Decatur:

…beef will be from cows that are never fed hormones, antibiotics, or grain, and will be dry-aged and ground fresh on-site. To compliment traditional burger and fry offerings, Farm Burger will serve a large selection of house-made accompaniments including pickles, dips, preserves, local farmstead cheeses, and house-cured bacon and charcuterie from its own pigs. In addition to beef, Farm Burger will offer innovative burgers made from pasture-raised heritage breed turkey, chicken, pork, and lamb, seasonal Georgia & Louisiana Gulf seafood, as well as a house-made veggie burger.

With the starting price of a burger at $6, too.

A quote from James Joyce immediately comes to mind: “and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

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