New Agrarian Voices

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

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 a large corporate law firm in New York City as a paralegal after graduating college, with the intention of continuing on to law school. However, rather than confirming this life path, my time in law had the opposite effect. Rethinking my professional plans, I was able to examine what it was that mattered to me, that I was passionate about. The answer to these existential questions wasn’t too long in occurring to me: food. One day after work, I found myself walking in to a whole-animal butcher shop close to my mom’s apartment, asking for a job. Two weeks later, I had quit my job at the law firm and begun my tenure as a butcher’s apprentice.

I could go on about how meaningful learning the craft of butchery was to me, but what was arguably the most important result of my time as a butcher was my exposure to how the animals we cut were raised. The art and science of producing high quality, nourishing protein in a system that not only prioritized the wellbeing of living creatures, but the land and broader human community as well, captivated me in a way that nothing had previously. It connected my love of eating and cooking to my deep desire to do something, anything, to help ameliorate some of the devastation so present in the modern world.

So here I am, at the outset of my fourth year in agriculture with the new moniker of “New Agrarian.” The Quivira Coalition program seemed like the ideal next step for someone who, at least in his own mind, is moving out of the novice phase of agricultural experience and has committed to a life of land and animal stewardship. The New Agrarian Program is a true apprenticeship, offering its participants an immersive experience that is not solely intended to impart a season’s worth of exposure to a particular operation, but also provide the apprentice with a notion of what a ranch looks like in a holistic sense, not merely from and operational but also from a business perspective. It is this that drew me to the program in the first place, and exactly what I am hoping to have gained come November: not only developing my abilities as a land and animal manager, but also practical experience of how an operation dedicated to regenerative management can also be a viable business. If we as practitioners of regenerative agriculture can’t figure out how to translate our practices and principles into a long term and stable livelihood, this movement has a snowflake’s chance in hell of challenging and changing the status quo.

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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New Agrarian Voices – Charlotte Moore

New Agrarian Voices – Charlotte Moore

Charlotte, APPRENTICE, Tooley's Trees, NMReflections after the First Month   Before I wanted to be a farmer, I wanted to be a social worker. Understanding people, discovering why they are the way they are was one of my first passions in life. Quickly, I realized...

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