Discover What Happens When a Guitar Maker Spends a Day on a Dairy Farm
Categories: Lifestyle

Discover What Happens When a Guitar Maker Spends a Day on a Dairy Farm

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has a *seemingly* different career than you, only to find you actually spend your time doing similar things? I once compared my old job as a game developer to my friend’s job as an attorney, and we realized our day-to-day was not too different. Interestingly enough, we’re not the only ones who have complementary careers, and Dairy Good has decided to investigate this idea a little further.

It turns out that dairy farmers have comparable jobs to makers. Both use their hands to get their work accomplished; both deal with the daily tasks of running and marketing a business; and most importantly, both are committed to upcycling and sustainability.

In the first episode of the new web series Acres and Avenues, a dairy farmer/cheese maker and a custom guitar maker discover similarities between their two jobs in a way that makes us stop and say, hey, these careers are not all that different. So today, in collaboration with Dairy Good, we’re going to chat with Brian Fiscalini, a dairy farmer at Fiscalini Farm, and Nick Pourfard of Prisma Guitars, to see what their jobs are really like… and how they are alike. But first, let’s check out the Acres and Avenues premiere.

Acres and Avenues illustrates a unique cultural exchange between a handful of young urbanites and a handful of rural dairy farmers, in which each spends a full day immersed in the job and day-to-day responsibilities of the other. In every Acres and Avenues episode, dairy farmers and young urbanites are paired together based on passions they share, including sustainability, entrepreneurship and health and wellness. By walking a mile in each other’s shoes, they learn a little more about the other and their shared interests and values.

Just as many people have become more aware of the food they’re eating, they’ve also become more disconnected from the farms and farmers who make it. Acres and Avenues not only celebrates the shared passions that unite people regardless of where they live and what they do, but also brings dairy’s farm-to-table story to life.

Now let’s take a deeper look at the farmer and maker from this episode.

We’ll start out on the farm. Fiscalini Farm is as family-owned and operated as it gets. Purchased in 1912, the farm has been passed down from generation to generation. 100 years later, Brian Fiscalini (along with his sister) have taken the reins, still mentored by their father. We spoke to Brian about his work on the farm, his daily process, and how he applies creativity to his work.

What’s your story? How did you get your start? What drew you to your field/profession?

I’m a fourth generation dairy farmer, so when most kids were doing household chores, I was helping out on the farm doing various dirty jobs. My dad and grandfather taught me so much and even encouraged me to try something outside of dairy farming, which is why I decided to go to Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University). I even studied abroad in Spain, but ultimately my heart was in dairy farming.

What inspires you? Why do you love what you do?

Our farm has been passed down generationally for more than 100 years, so I’m passionate about preserving the legacy of our family farm and approaching our business in a creative, innovative way. When we were first looking into adopting sustainable practices, like implementing a flush system to recycle water and building the digester, it was to save a few dollars, but has since transformed into a passion to innovate and preserve our farm for future generations.

What do you do or where do you go when you’re in a creative rut?

I like to go back to my roots, get my hands dirty. Let’s just say I’ve been known to boot my employees off their tractor every now and then and take things into my own hands. It helps me clear my head.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other folks who have a passion they want to turn into a career?

Invest your time in something you love, stay at it and stay humble. Surround yourself with positive and optimistic people — naysayers are an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. With the artisan cheese business, we really try to create a premium brand, which means we have to maintain a premium farm and stick to our core values that got us making artisan cheese in the first place. As a farmer, the work is never done, so you have to be able to give it your all, to really be passionate about the work.

What songs are on your get-pumped-up playlist?

Ha, my get-pumped-up playlist? I really listen to a little bit of everything, from country to hip-hop and classic rock. On any given day though, you’ll most likely find me listening to Nirvana or Billy Joel at work. Quite the range depending on my mood…

What is the weirdest, most unusual or worst job you’ve ever had?

I really haven’t had too many bad jobs. While at Cal Poly I worked in the Creamery there and helped make cheese — shocker!  I have been covered head to toe in cow manure many times but with each time I hope to learn a lesson and ask myself, “How can I avoid this mistake again?”

Do you like to make/create anything else? If so, what?

I suppose you can say I have more of an entrepreneurial mindset because I prefer to upcycle rather than buy. When I needed something like a rake, I welded materials found around the farm to create one. Because there are so many parts to our farm (farm ground, dairy, cheese plant, digester) most of the things we build are custom to applications only found on our farm.

What other makers inspire you?

Hands down, my dad. He comes up with all of these incredible ideas for the farm, and then I get to take his initial ideas and actually build them. At 65 years old he has been great in letting me make decisions and learn from my mistakes, but he is also the first person that I go to when I need help or just to talk through challenges at work.

What else do you want to tell us about yourself and your creative field?

Dairy farming isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when talking about a creative industry. But I think creativity stems from problem solving, and that’s definitely something that is a big part of my day-to-day on the farm. With the artisan cheese business, our creativity shows through our craft — our cheese.

We are always looking for inspiration and have found it in other makers. We have partnered with a local brewery and a local winery to create new cheeses. For me, personally, I love when I’m at an event and someone tries one of our cheeses for the first time and truly enjoys it. Something we try to do is let the people that work here come up with new cheese flavors that they’d like to try. Our executive team is only three people and we are family so we don’t always think outside the box. There are 45 people that work on the farm so allowing them to craft new ideas for products makes a lot more sense than leaving it up to three family members that have very similar personalities.

Next up we’ve got Nick. Prisma Guitars is one of a kind. We’ve never heard of someone making guitars out of skateboards, but owner Nick Pourfard has perfected this craft. Based in San Francisco, Nick is a self-taught carpenter who had an idea and turned it into a thriving business. Let’s hear a little bit more from Nick.

What’s your story? How did you get your start? What drew you to your field/profession?

In 2010, I hurt my ankle skating and I couldn’t walk for six months. I needed to find something to do with my time. I built skate ramps in my backyard, so I had a little experience working with tools, but not along the lines of woodworking. I started collecting tools and began teaching myself how they worked and what they did.

It began with furniture. Once I felt that I built my skills enough, I decided to build a guitar. After looking into it, I wasn’t very into making a guitar I could essentially find elsewhere in a store. I wanted to build something unique. Something I couldn’t buy. Skateboards just made sense. And I knew by using boards that belonged to me and my friends, this would really mean something to me.

What inspires you? Why do you love what you do?

I am inspired mostly by use of materials, but also shapes and forms. I try to surround myself with a space that keeps me inspired. I love what I do because I am using my work to build up a brand. I am most proud when I look at all my work collectively.

What do you do or where do you go when you’re in a creative rut?

I go out or on the Internet and look at furniture, architecture and environments. For some reason this makes me think of guitars and pushing my business to the next step.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other folks who have a passion they want to turn into a career?

I remember when I was 20, having a conversation with someone who wasn’t very interested in what I was doing. He asked, “So, is this what you want to do? You going to keep doing it?” I told him that I know that what I am doing is interesting and people will want to know more, I just have to push harder and wait. So, I would say that having a real vision is a great thing and you shouldn’t let anything or anyone try and redirect these goals. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. And if it doesn’t work out, at least you did it.

What songs are on your get-pumped-up playlist?

World music is always playing while I work. I get in the zone listening to languages I don’t understand. Otherwise, right now I’m into:

– “Stress Hed” by Never Young

– “Staggered in Lies” by Sacri Monti

– “The Eraser” by Christian Scott

– And too many more to name….

What is the weirdest, most unusual or worst job you’ve ever had?

Well, I have actually never had a real job. I worked small gigs like construction and I worked freelance in graphic design. I say that I don’t like real jobs because I don’t get creative control of what I do. I like to choose what comes next. Working with my hands and starting this company is how I was able to achieve this. I just graduated college a few months ago. I haven’t been 100 percent pushing this business until now because my main concern was getting my degree. But now that I am done I work every day.

Do you like to make/create anything else? If so, what?

My roommates hate me because I have a chair obsession. I keep making them or bringing them home. I love building furniture and other things. Hopefully I can figure out a way to incorporate this in my business.

What other makers inspire you?

Jay Nelson has got to be one of the most inspiring people in the world. He builds tree houses, shelters and spaces. Our work doesn’t relate, but I feel like I understand how he is thinking. He lives down the road from me too. Never met the guy, just a fan.

What else do you want to tell us about yourself and your creative field?

I am pretty happy about where I am now. I am having fun and challenging myself as a builder, so we will see where it takes me.

See? They’re not so dissimilar after all. What’s more, they are both committed to upcycling. In the DIY industry, we are all about taking something old and making it new. We see Nick putting this motto into action by creating new guitars out of old skateboards.

In the same vein, dairy farmers and others in the industry are passionate about creating renewable energy options. They strive to be more sustainable every day, including finding new ways to reuse, recycle and make their operations more efficient. Some are making big investments in the future of their farms, including implementing a methane digester or taking advantage of solar/wind power. We see them as champions of sustainability and recycling. Big high-fives to you, dairy farmers!

To watch more episodes of Acres & Avenues, and to learn more about dairy farming families, follow @DairyGood on your social channels.

Which makers would you like to see out on the farm? Share your faves in the comments below?

This post is in collaboration with Dairy Good.