New Agrarian Voices

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





Justin Jones, APPRENTICE, Indreland Ranch, MT

May 2021

As an outdoor enthusiast, I’ve always wanted to leave the places I visit better off than when I found them. In my early teens, I determined that the only truly ethical way to live was to have as positive an impact on the world as I am capable, to leverage my time and my abilities for the maximum benefit of my fellow beings.  In my junior year of university, I was exposed to a documentary film called Collapse, an extensive interview with investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, in which he warns of the inherent unsustainability of an infinite growth model on a finite planet.  Ruppert gave two examples of post petroleum economies, Cuba and North Korea in the early 1990s, which suffered a massive reduction in petroleum imports in the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union and in the face of US trade embargoes.  North Korea, with its top-down authoritarian structure, starved miserably.  Cuba, on the other hand, asked its people to compensate for the failure of its industrial agricultural system by going out and growing food on every piece of ground they could find. They invited a group of Australian permaculturists to come to their country and show them how to live more in tune with natural systems.  The people of Cuba endured a number of very difficult years during this transition, but were ultimately successful in reorganizing their economy and culture, and now live in some of the most sustainable human settlements anywhere on Earth.

Collapse served as my introduction to the world of permaculture, and I have been exploring the rabbit hole of regenerative agriculture ever since.  In the course of my investigation, I encountered holistic management and the work of Allan Savory, which enlightened me to the global importance of seasonally humid grassland ecosystems, and the extent to which human beings have disrupted those landscapes.  Repairing these ecosystems, using holistically managed livestock which emulate natural patterns, is the only way to reverse climate change, he stated.  As a result of this information, I adjusted course to begin focusing on more broad acre regenerative projects.

One of my primary objectives for my current apprenticeship at Indreland Angus is to become familiar with ranching culture in general, to understand better what life is like on a broadacre family farm.  I want to get a deeper insight into the nuances of managing cattle as a business, and the various tools and techniques that make it feasible.  More than anything, I am excited about the professional network and credibility that will come as a result of graduating from the Quivira new agrarian program.  My hope is that it will springboard me into a yet more prestigious apprenticeship next year, and ultimately help qualify me to pursue a career in consultation and design of highly diverse and abundant production landscapes.

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