Tom Garstang

Season 9

Age: 35

Hometown: Earlysville, Virginia

Profession: Prescribed Fire Practitioner, Regenerative Agriculturalist, Leatherworker

Tom was born in South Africa where his father was a game ranger and would later become a well-known Conservation Biologist. Eventually taking Tom and his family to many remote corners of the globe. Tom’s mother also had a deep appreciation for wild places. It was this combination of naturalist and nurturer that sowed the seeds of adventure in Tom’s heart. His family later immigrated to the United States and settled in the Piedmont region of Appalachia.

Restless for adventure and wanderlust, he left high school early and began working varying trade and service jobs, spending his time hitchhiking, riding freight trains and following old-time music festivals up and down the east coast. Later he took a career in fine leatherwork and currently works as a Prescribed Fire Practitioner and regenerative agriculturalist, bridging the gap between farming and natural ecosystems on his extended family’s farm in Earlysville, Virginia.

As a young man, Tom took up hunting the abundant game that calls Virginia home, a passion that would soon consume him. Before long all of his free time would be spent in pursuit of Whitetail, Wild Turkey, Squirrels, Rabbits, Raccoons, Catfish, Dove, Duck, wild plants, and elusive mushrooms. The culture, legend, and lore around these Appalachian food staples and the wily ways in which the old-timers acquired them fascinated him, filling a void left by the distance he had come to feel with the developing world of his childhood abroad with his dad. Tom’s father succumbed to Parkinson’s in the waning days of summer 2019 and his hunting mentor in Buckingham Virginia, Tracy Powers passed away from cancer in the spring of 2021… Alone is the culmination of all of these events, a way to honor the inspirations and mentors who have molded him as a man and to test and humble the person he has yet to become. In a rapidly changing world reeling on its heels from war, climate change, and unseen pathogens an opportunity arises to escape it all if ever so briefly, and start a new where we all began.

Here are the ten items Tom selected to bring on his survival journey to the remote wilderness valley in Labrador, Canada:

1. Bow and arrows

2. Ax

3. Paracord

4. Ferro rod

5. Trapping wire

6. Fishing line and hooks

7. 2-quart pot

8. Multitool

9. Sleeping bag

10. Folding Saw