New Agrarian Voices

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

Bekah Vineyard, APPRENTICE, Tooley’s Trees, NM

Reflections after the First Month

How did you get interested in agriculture? And what are you hoping to gain from your apprenticeship?

My closest-in-age cousin and telepathic twin, Montana, loves to tell a story of the day his family arrived for a visit to my family’s suburban Connecticut home. Having driven about 18 hours from their hometown outside of St. Louis Missouri, they parked, exhausted, in our driveway and meandered casually to the back of the house. The very moment they rounded the corner of the house, they heard a shriek, and an open poptart packet came flying out of the back door. They entered that door to find me standing in the middle of the kitchen, clutching several boxes of snacks and staring deeply at the nutrition fact labels.

This was the moment that I realized food has consequences.

Seriously, though, I have understood for a long time that there is something terribly wrong with the ways we treat our selves, one another and the land beneath us. The ways in which we eat and treat the resources from which our food arrives is a clear reflection of these abuses. I feel that we need a spiritual shift – a way of better relating to the world around us, of seeing our selves in it – not taking it for granted, but, rather caring for it.

Being a farmer never felt like it would be enough for me, even though I felt deeply healed when working with soil, using it to remedy the ways my other work broke my spirit. So far in my adult life I have wondered endlessly how on Earth I will fit into the struggle for justice and also find happiness. I want to build community, and be a part of the community. I want to create something positive. Create something in my own image for a healthier world. I want to make use of my body in whatever work I do. Agriculture is the stunningly obvious answer, and I am done neglecting its path.

In the desert I began learning how to catch water, grow food, keep animals, build a network of passionate and beautiful people, deal with differences of reality and perspective, and work through personal struggles. I moved to New Mexico and somehow, magically, found the concept of regenerative agriculture. In this beautiful concept I found that agriculture could be more than a selfish way to care for myself and sustain happiness. It is a way of literally building soil and therefore life, of seeing and caring for the land as something greater than my finite time on this Earth, of taking care of my neighbors. It is beyond resistance to business as usual because it is a living example of better practices.

Today I sit staring at the Truchas Peaks of New Mexico, my eastern view. An apprenticeship at Tooley’s Trees is exactly where I am supposed to be, at the exact moment I am supposed to be here. The stable, positive environment that my mentors have built is the foundation I need to sort myself out in the crazy circumstance that has been realizing that I want to be a farmer. I am learning so much each day – inspiration and juniper pollen are swirling around my head.

Throughout the season I expect to build upon skills of seeing the landscape around me – how water moves across landscapes and impacts it, how plants can be used as medicine, how there is an infinite amount to learn from the world around us. I look forward to propagating trees and other plants – a skill that I can bring wherever my body goes and use to steward the land beneath me. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn good habits: always being prepared, taking care of tools, being resourceful. I am humbled by continued chances to improve on communication and be the type of community member I dream of being.

More Voices

New Agrarian Voices – Peter Feehan

New Agrarian Voices – Peter Feehan

Peter Feehan, APPRENTICE, Seacross Ranch, MT REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH I am certain that I am dedicating my life to agriculture. The specifics of this, however, are still unknown to me. I would like to have a regenerative farm or ranch. Where do I want to...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Tyler Vandermark

New Agrarian Voices – Tyler Vandermark

Tyler Vandermark, APPRENTICE, Indreland Ranch, MT REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH At 10 years old I knew I wanted to be an engineer just like my grandfather, whose towering presence and infinite knowledge enamored me. There was little doubt that I possessed the...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Susan Elder

New Agrarian Voices – Susan Elder

Susan Elder, APPRENTICE, Charter Ranch, MT REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH My path to working with Land has been a bit wandering. I’d like to capitalize “Land” because to me, Land is a character. Throughout the narrative of my life, Land has appeared (or I have...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Rex Rutledge

New Agrarian Voices – Rex Rutledge

Rex Rutledge, APPRENTICE, Seacross Ranch, MTREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH In college I jumbled around with a few different majors until I found biology. One of my first courses on my way to my biology degree was general ecology. I was hooked the very first day...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Natalie Berkman

New Agrarian Voices – Natalie Berkman

Natalie Berkman, APPRENTICE, Milton Ranch, MT REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH My experience in agriculture started in 10th grade when I realized the only job I was qualified for was working at a farm stand on the side of a busy road. I started the job with hesitance...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Megan Schmidgall

New Agrarian Voices – Megan Schmidgall

Megan Schmidgall, APPRENTICE, Chauvet Ranch, MTREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH As a typical youth of this generation I graduated from high school and went to college without knowing specifically what line of work I wanted to pursue. Instead of switching my degree...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Jeane Stafford

New Agrarian Voices – Jeane Stafford

Jeane Stafford, APPRENTICE, Shultz Ranch, MTREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH My initial fascination with agriculture began early on in my childhood. Between my deep love for animals and growing up raising livestock on the family farm in northwestern Oregon, my...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Brady Lux

New Agrarian Voices – Brady Lux

Brady Lux, APPRENTICE, Moe Ranch, MT REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH Perhaps due to my being dyslexic and as a result a painfully slow reader I still haven’t got through the Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leapold that I started reading when I was a sophomore in high...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Sam Schmidt

New Agrarian Voices – Sam Schmidt

Sam Schmidt, APPRENTICE, San Juan Ranch, CO REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH My becoming involved in agriculture began with the hard realization that the assumptions I had made about my life’s trajectory were wrong. I had just finished a one-and-a-half-year stint at...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Noelle Mcdonough

New Agrarian Voices – Noelle Mcdonough

Noelle Mcdonough, APPRENTICE, San Juan Ranch, COREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH There were several forces at play that caused agriculture to find me and encouraged me to apply for the Quivira NAP apprenticeship at San Juan Ranch in Saguache, CO. Growing up in the...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Julia Loman

New Agrarian Voices – Julia Loman

Julia Loman, APPRENTICE, Richards Ranch, CO REFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH My interest in agriculture began in the city of Detroit, Michigan, of all places. Fresh out of college, I found myself helping out at a tiny urban garden and learning how to grow vegetables....

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Ian Trupin

New Agrarian Voices – Ian Trupin

Ian Trupin, APPRENTICE, XK Bar Ranch, COTAKE A PEEK INTO THE DAILY LIFE OF AN APPRENTICE BY READING THEIR RESPONSES TO THESE QUESTIONS.   What is something you do every day? I let the chickens out, collect eggs, feed them, and shut them in every day. Most of my...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Dylan Jones

New Agrarian Voices – Dylan Jones

Dylan Jones, APPRENTICE, Sol Ranch, NMTAKE A PEEK INTO THE DAILY LIFE OF AN APPRENTICE BY READING THEIR RESPONSES TO THESE QUESTIONS.   What is something you do every day? I wake up on the right side of the dirt, surrounded by beautiful country. What items do you...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – DeAnne Gabriel

New Agrarian Voices – DeAnne Gabriel

DeAnne Gabriel, APPRENTICE, Indian Ridge Farm, COREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH I am a woman who follows her heart. Every time I feel the pull of something new, I marvel at how lucky I am to get to go with the flow and see where it will take me. From a life of...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Dave LeFavre

New Agrarian Voices – Dave LeFavre

Dave LeFevre, APPRENTICE, Indian Ridge Farm, COREFLECTIONS AFTER THE FIRST MONTH Even though it has only been 3 weeks at Indian Ridge Farm it definitely feels like it’s been easily over a month! Every day has been filled with perfectly amazing sights and sounds,...

read more
New Agrarian Voices – Christopher Mellen

New Agrarian Voices – Christopher Mellen

Christopher Mellen, APPRENTICE, Round River Resource Management, COMy Pursuit of Regenerative Agriculture Happiness It was a dark and stormy night riddled with the sounds of raindrops sprinkling down on the tin roof of the hospital. Muffled screams were heard just...

read more