New Agrarian Voices

Learn about the impressions and experiences of each year's cohort of apprentices in their own words.





Rachael Leitnaker, APPRENTICE, Round River Resource Management, CO

First Reflections
April 2023

A meaningful life to me at its simplest is one where I wake up everyday feeling good about the work that I am doing. Even when the work is hard, if I feel what I am doing is contributing to an even bigger and more beautiful picture, that is a meaningful life to me. As a child, growing up on my grandparents’ farm, I was shaped by an understanding of having a relationship with the land. Knowing it, watching it change, caring for it and harvesting a living directly from it. A way of life that revolved around the soil under our feet. That connection was ingrained in me and would become the foundation of what is most important to me today and the life I want to live. Although I never really pictured myself wanting to pursue a career in agriculture until recently, that way of life stuck in the back of my head, and it was only a matter of time before I’d wanted to get back to those roots. I found that most things I pursued in college, although very different from agriculture, all pointed back to this idea of a life living with the land and in harmony with nature. So far, this apprenticeship has only confirmed within me that I am right where I am supposed to be, and this is the kind of work I want to stand for and live by. 

As the first two months have gone by, and I start to familiarize myself with the ranch and the day-to-day tasks, I noticed a familiar feeling setting in. One that I’ve known before but surprised me because I hadn’t felt it since I was that little girl on her grandparents’ farm. That is this feeling of responsibility for the land and the life it sustains. The feeling of wanting to nurture it. The feeling that everything I do little by little is making a big impact and that sense of responsibility to show up everyday for it. It is an intoxicating feeling and as I start to get to know this very new place, I start to fall in love with it and want to give back to it. That is the feeling of meaning that I strive for in my life and was a sign that I am on the right path. 

With regenerative agriculture my values, passions, joys, curiosities, and inspirations all get to work in alignment. Every day is different and allows me to be a creative problem solver and lifelong learner. Learning to work with the land, its natural processes and create something that is good and nutritious not only for the people consuming it but good for the land it came from and community that surrounds it.

I took this apprenticeship because I knew if I wanted to learn how to farm regeneratively I needed to learn by experience. I knew I needed to get out of my home bubble, meet new people, see new perspectives, challenge my beliefs, and challenge myself mentally and physically. I hope this apprenticeship will only continue to be the amazing adventure that it has been so far. I hope to keep testing and affirming within me why I chose this life and to define that life a little more every day. I am grateful to have such a knowledgeable and experienced mentor to teach me and give me the opportunities to grow and to be working and learning in an environment that allows me to learn so much through experience. In the span of two months, I have learned so many basic skills that are empowering to me and will allow me to build upon them and I am excited to keep learning, trying new things and to start refining those skills. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that although at times the work has drove me a little crazy, what is even crazier to me is that I still wouldn’t want do anything else.

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