Carbon Ranch Initiative

Alex Prediger, APPRENTICE, James Ranch, CO

Reflections after the First Month

In college I was steeped in hard science, on my probable way toward a veterinary degree. I worked in research labs, loved learning (and animals!), and the narrative was that school was the place you learn. During my Junior year I had my first environmental ethics class and Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer came in to speak about Traditional Ecological Knowledge versus Scientific Ecological Knowledge. To us she posed the thought: “Though the Earth  provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, ‘What more can we take from the Earth?’ and almost never ‘What does the Earth ask of us in return?’” The relationship between these questions gave me a birds-eye view of how I felt my standard, middle class life had been up until this point and how I slowly started to see the world after. It awakened subconscious feelings I was experiencing about the shortcomings and narrow-sightedness of SEK and common consumer culture. These questions and their related TEK/SEK relationship became a holistic lens for me to understand other complex situations later and launched me into thinking about living with an ethic of care. What would that look like and how could I invoke reciprocity (really with all things) going forward? In trying to answer this, I’ve somehow stumbled my way into living and working on small-scale, diversified farms across the country for the past 8 seasons. I’ve also come to the realization that for many of us (human and nonhuman alike) nourishment is how we navigate the world- cooking might be our love language, a meal might be a place to find common ground or give thanks, not to mention all of the ways that being out in nature can nourish your soul. To me, regenerative agriculture is about so much more than just feeding people and the soil. It’s a way of interacting with the world that lets me revel in the messy, creative, and deeply vibrant experience of being alive.

Through completing the NAP apprenticeship, I hope to be able to talk about the importance of regenerative tools with greater confidence and deeper understanding. I want to be able to fluidly use practices that cultivate diversity, reduce inputs, provide nutritious food directly to friends and neighbors, and strive to increase access to underserved folks as a direct act of resistance to the current food system. A farmer wears so many different hats- from advocate to community builder to land steward to teacher- and in all those ways I think I could work to make our agricultural practices and food culture more resilient and holistic. In other words-  I want to actively and collaboratively be a part of growing a community of wonderfully contemplative and grounded folks who not only ask the question “What does the Earth ask of us in return?” every day, but they answer it with the careful stewardship of the land and each other.

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