New Agrarian Voices

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





Shannon Maes, APPRENTICE, Sol Ranch, NM

May 2021

Agriculture chose me more than I chose it. I never saw myself as a farmer or rancher when I was a kid, and I would have told you my dearest hope was to become an ecologist. But, like many others in this community I also knew I wanted every day to fill me with the sights, sounds, smells and textures of the land and my memory to be a human form of it, like layers of sediment deposited by wind or water. At that point I had no idea that agriculture could offer such intimate acquaintance with the environment and be such a powerful platform for stewardship and positive social change. Since I was very young I’ve been searching for a way to combine my deep love for the land, desire to help strengthen and be useful to my community, passion for ecology and growing commitment to social justice. I’ve been many things already in life, including a farmworker, environmental science teacher, dairy hand, museum gardener, school garden coordinator and now a New Agrarian Apprentice. Here in the gorgeous open country and sweeping skyscapes of northern New Mexico I’m so incredibly fortunate to be living, studying and working daily towards the practice of regenerative ranching. It feels really good to be here at Sol Ranch, by turns both uncomfortable and deeply rewarding, gravitating towards the radical center even as my understanding of what it all means continues to evolve. From this apprenticeship experience I hope to learn as much as I can about good grazing management, balancing the needs of herds, humans and lands, and the business skills necessary to allow such a business to thrive and continue. I’ve already gained so much just by being in this place. Somehow it’s been almost a month to the day since I arrived and already I can see that the coming months will be only enough time to get my feet wet.

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