New Agrarian Voices

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





Alana Tessman​, APPRENTICE, AMB West Ranches

What contributes to a meaningful life and how do you hope this apprenticeship will help you explore that?
May 2024

The search for meaning through an examined life allows us to interpret what we encounter, gain an understanding of interconnectedness, and increase our receptivity to experience. Our unique definitions of meaning guide our lives, influencing everything from how we interact with one another to the profession we choose to pursue. When I envision a meaningful life, I see an emphasis on the inseparability of myself from my community, the environment, and the world, as I recognize the impact that an individual has on all else. A meaningful life allows me to contribute positively to those relationships, cultivating joy and exercising reciprocity. My hope is to know that I have addressed the urgent matters facing our planet as best as I can, even if in small, initially imperceivable ways. Working towards a more harmonious world, reducing suffering, and standing against harmful practices remain important to me. This apprenticeship provides an opportunity to practice the principles that would contribute to a meaningful life. I’m fascinated with food systems for countless reasons, one being that they involve universal, unavoidable aspects of our existence that touch environmental, social, and personal spheres. What we consume is directly related to our impact, and working to reimagine how we interact with this necessity of sustenance allows for the most challenging, complex problems to be addressed. Through agriculture, we determine what life will be supported in the future.

I’m hoping to interact with land in a way that promotes biodiversity and uplifts the wellbeing of all who depend on healthy environments – humans, animals, insects, plants, and microbes alike. I’m proud to work with an organization that is devoted to regenerating the land and healing the soil, broader ecosystems, and human/animal health. I’m inspired by the innovations that emerge from Quivira and want to utilize my energy to uplift these practices and increase their use through education and participation. I’m treating everything I encounter during this experience as my teacher, asking myself daily how I’m impacting the environment around me, both ecological and social. The state of agriculture is daunting, and often leaves us feeling hopeless and insignificant – a slippery slope towards apathy.

By unpacking and deriving meaning from all I encounter, I can determine how I’d like to conduct myself as a land manager and agriculturalist in the future. Furthermore, open-mindedness presents opportunities for discussions that could change the ways of conventional agriculture, encouraging a shift towards regenerative ag. Allowing space to witness how things are and dream of how things could be builds a life full of meaning, as one feels as though they’re engaged with their environment, devoted to a better way. Simultaneously, I feel we must remember to exercise empathy when we inevitably encounter varying perspectives and practices, finding the good and admiring positive qualities expressed.

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