New Agrarian Voices

Benjamin Clark, APPRENTICE, Vilicus Farms, MT

First Month Reflection

My interest in agriculture began soon after I started studying capitalism and resources. I remember watching documentaries while in High School about the advent of the peak oil crisis, the middle eastern wars, and other such informative topics relating to human energy consumption and the climate. As I became more aware of the nature of our societies relationship to fossil fuels, my attention soon turned to agriculture as both a source of the problem, and also as its possible solution. At the start of my journey into food production, I originally intended to learn enough about farming and the food system to raise my own food and opt out of the industrial system. However, as I grew more knowledgeable and gained hands on experience at working farms, I realized that I had a bigger role to play.

Working with food and soil began to change me in ways I didn’t understand. It began to be more about having a good day, working alongside passionate people, and doing work that I enjoyed and believed in – not just learning how to be self sufficient. As my relationship to the work of farming evolved, I also began to see the larger political picture of how we got to where we are as a country and global society, and the roadblocks that keep us as from adopting more sane methods of sustenance. I see farming now as a political, social and radical economic act. It is a way to lead communities and shape conversations about human society and our relationship to the natural world and to each other. It becomes a more pressing issue every day to fight against climate catastrophe, produce actual health with our food system, and to redress the environmental wrongs we have perpetuated on the world around us. I believe that all these things can be addressed through conscientious farming practices that include the natural world, and have a healing impact as opposed to an extractive impact on the beautiful planet we all inhabit.

My hope through taking this apprenticeship is to broaden my perspective on how to take regenerative practices and implement them on a scale that matters. How can we take important land stewardship values to a larger scale and not let the economic stresses of a global capitalist food economy destroy them in the process? I hope to learn not only the practical skills and knowledge associated with farming grains and pulses organically on large acreage, but also to develop a vision for reintegrating livestock and crops into a food system that mimics actual natural processes, does the least harm possible in terms of fossil fuel dependence and resource extraction, and promotes a healthy society at large while also fostering local community.

I hope that in the future the documentaries young teens watch are not about how we’ve put our planet in peril, but instead about how we learned to solve global problems, how we’ve regenerated the life force of our landscapes, and how we have collectively gained some wisdom as a species in the process.

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