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Alternative Farm Education Projects
I am leaving the general idea of the need for accessible, agro-ecological farm education up as a "project" on this site to promote the concept and create a hub for people that are interested. Those that may want to organize something, and those that are curious about opportunities to learn, are equally encouraged to join this project.
Previously, this was a real, active project page about a work-for-education program that I organized at Badgersett Farm in June 2017. The first of its kind, this was an advanced Experimental Farm Network education collaboration, done in partnership with Philip Rutter and Badgersett Farm. Key takeaways from this experience: people learned a lot; they were able to get their feet wet and do tangible on-farm agro-forestry work; and the cost was $15/per day to cover the communal kitchen expenses.
If this program had cost $1,000 or more, nearly all of the participants that we had would not have been there.
I get that farmers are busy and permaculture teachers need to eat too. All I am saying is that if we want to see thousands and thousands of more people on the land, they will need to be able to learn in ways that don't break the bank.
I think there are plenty of people out there, just like me, that want to a see paradigm shift in our lifetimes. I think it is incumbent upon us, then, to try to create more accessible farm education opportunities. Now is the time to get creative:
- work/education trades
- internships, apprenticeships, mentoring
- gap year intensives so we can catch these young people right out of high school
- channel your inner Ivan Illich
Philip Rutter completed his coursework for a Phd in evolutionary biology from the University of Minnesota in the 1970s. Instead of writing a thesis, he bought a 160-acre farm in southern Minnesota and began his life’s work of breeding and growing hazelnuts, chestnuts, and hickory-pecans. This farm is named Badgersett, and so is the business: Badgersett Research Corporation.
He foresaw the unsustainable nature of annual corn and soy agriculture long ago, before the word “permaculture” existed. And he decided to try to do something about it.
His vision is to replace corn and soy with these perennial, staple tree crops. With the proper economy of scale, harvesting machinery, and processing equipment, he believes hazelnuts could replace soybeans today. It will take an army of small farmers organizing and rallying around each other to make this happen.