New Agrarian Voices

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





Nina Jensen, APPRENTICE, XK Bar Ranch, CO

May 2021

I would tell you my interest in agriculture started when I moved to Vermont for school and was exposed to a community of thinkers that believed food production was important and inspiring, fascinating news I thought. My mother would say that my interest in land based life has been percolating through me since I was young and was concerned as to why my grandpa’s cows were always staring at me. Agriculture has been cultivating a place in my life long before I realized it. A deep love for the outdoors and adventure led me to study environmental issues and repeatedly the failures of agriculture were the given explanation for most any issue. I was completely struck as to how vital and intimate an act as growing food could be such a damaging force to soil and water. Beyond the environment, the social inequities of food and land access became a solidifying layer to my pursuit of food systems. I felt, and still do, that an incredible potential for change is to be found in a practice as essential and broad as agriculture. The stunning beauty of Vermont farms and food also helped soothe me into a radical.

A deeper answer to this question points to my roots and the people I come from. A love of land has been taught throughout my life in subtle ways by different people with their own unique flare.  My father grew up on a farm in Northern Iowa where we spent many weekends climbing on hay bales, learning the craftiness of farm life, and to love a good story. My mother took us walking the prairie collecting seeds and identifying wildflowers. Days spent hunting the woods with my grandmother for Morels, muddy creek jaunts with my cousins, and cooking over fires are experiences that I had never thought much about or appreciated until my more recent years. Along with that, my grandfather’s strong spirit of conservation has seeped into all of us in one way or another.

A passion for great food, animals, and fascination with processes have rooted me here in ag where I am today. I love the endless transformation of systems, relationships, culture, landscapes, ingredients that is part of this work. So what do I want to learn in this apprenticeship… 

Practically speaking I want to develop my stockmanship, plant, and soil knowledge. I want to understand how something I am observing this moment may present itself next year. I hope to gain confidence in my communication and understand the broader systems at play to be able to integrate grazers into a farming system strategically. Ultimately I want to connect with people and be part of a community actively adapting and thinking ahead for our ecology and our food.

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