New Agrarian Voices

Cary Conwell, APPRENTICE, Indian Ridge Farm, CO

One Month Reflection

Time flies by on a farm. The constant stimulation of light, smells, sounds, and tactile sensations deliver a seemingly endless new world to observe and record. I am concluding my first month as an apprentice at Indian Ridge Farm. It is with full confidence that I can say that the decision to leave the cozy life in Denver and enter the world of regenerative agriculture was and continues to be an excellent one. The past few weeks have been filled with challenges, fun, learning, and plenty of great eating which all accumulate into an incredible overall experience that is setting up a path for future success on the heels of the pioneering performed by our mentors – the Daranyis.

I was originally attracted to agriculture based on a few main ideas. For one, it is aligned with my personal interests in food, land, animals, plants, and my general enjoyment of working outside with my hands. I enjoy cooking, baking bread, and have over time felt myself more and more attracted to the source of the items which provide the ingredients for those two pass times. Secondly, agriculture, especially organic regenerative agriculture fulfills my deep seeded desire to contribute to our culture, planet, and own personal being in meaningful ways. The corporate world, centered around financial performance and consumption, did not provide this type of meaning. It is gratifying to pursue methods of food production that are considered alternative and pay dividends in so many hurting categories: soil health, water quality, rural livelihood, human health, animal welfare, and more. Lastly, I am motivated by my ancestors driven primarily by my grandmother whom I have developed a close bond with over the past decade. She grew up in rural, north Georgia on a farm which has been the relative geographic region for my family since the late 1600s, pre-revolution. Her father was a chicken farmer producing conventional birds up to 30,000 at a time. He retired and my grandmother and her husband abandoned the operation. She has told me countless stories about the way things used to be and I have taken it upon myself, almost as a duty, to rekindle that type of work for my own family albeit knowing and using contemporary and ecologically sensitive practices.

This apprenticeship means everything to me. On the surface, I hope to gain the practical skills and experience necessary to obtain a full time position on a farm managing an operation and team that is conducting the type of agriculture that is aligned with my values. This could be in Colorado or elsewhere. I am also keenly attuned to the decisions, past and present, made by my mentors as it relates to their business so that I can learn crucial lessons as it relates to making a viable financial livelihood in this profession. The Daranyis defy the adage that all farmers “must be poor” and have proven that a well balanced life can be achieved with a certain level of financial security behind it. I hope to emulate the decisions they have made to achieve that and am therefore looking forward to diving deeper into the financial aspect of farming in addition to the hard skills related to the job itself. Lastly, I look forward to having some fun while living in Norwood. The landscape around Norwood is incredible with a diverse array of trails and waterways to be explored. I intend to thoroughly explore the mountain bike trails and fishing spots everywhere from the alpine around Telluride to the deserts of Uravan.

Through all of this I expect to undergo significant personal growth as it relates to leadership, communication, organization, discipline, and general happiness as I develop new skills. Furthermore, this entire experience is enhanced by my wife, Caroline, who is apprenticing alongside me. It is a privilege to work with her and the depth of our relationship will continue to reach levels unimaginable in the past.

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Register for the 2019 Comanche Creek Volunteer Weekend!

August 2-4

Every summer, Quivira organizes a volunteer work weekend in the Comanche Creek Watershed. It’s all about getting muddy in the creek, building community, and hands-on watershed restoration. Come learn from the experts—Bill Zeedyk, Jeffrey Adams, Mark Reineke, Margie Tatro, and Jan-Willem Jansens—and work with the Quivira crew. We’ll be building the traditional Zeedyk-inspired structures with an interesting twist, exploring how Keyline Design principles are relevant to slope wetland restoration. All the new things we’re learning this year will be presented in a technical guide and at a workshop, as part of the 2019 REGENERATE conference. Please join Quivira and restoration experts in work to improve wetland function and keep the creeks flowing in the Valle Vidal! And Joe Hancock is bringing his horse and dog team back to help get the work done!


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