New Agrarian Voices

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





Tyler Vandermark

2nd Year Apprentice, Two Dot Land & Livestock, MT

1st Year APPRENTICE, Indreland Ranch, MT

2nd Year Apprenticeship
March 2021

What do you know now, that you wish you had known when you started your first year?

I found Quivira through a stroke of blind stumbling luck. Ecstatic to have found a community of like-minded individuals, I became completely absorbed by this microcosm harboring so much creativity and progress. But in the confined and idle days of winter I began to rub elbows with the local community at large and was jolted by the reality of just how minuscule the regenerative cohort is. It occurred to me that I had been dismissing the knowledge and experiences of my “conventional” brothers and sisters. They have much to share, from unintentional affirmation of regenerative methods to hard-earned generational wisdom tucked away in legends of the old-timers. Stepping beyond social pleasantries and opening up honest professional dialogue builds trust and unity. It is together, with open hearts and minds, that solutions to the world’s greatest challenges will be developed. Solutions that work for all creatures of the earth, all mankind. I wish I had not just known but truly understood this from the start. I now remind myself to step out of the echo chamber and strive always to grow in the same way I desire the land to grow, for that is what brought me here in the first place.

April 2020

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 calculating mathematical brain and mechanical aptitude that are the hallmark of such professionals. I pursued that dream through two and a half years of college before it was deflated. I was a young man with wildly varying interests and an eclectic skill set. I felt unfulfilled in my studies and the prospect of my future career left me with a hollow feeling. A run of hard luck around this time plunged me down into one of the deep valleys of life.

The great thing about valleys is that once you reach the bottom there is nowhere to look but up. Standing there in my valley I searched for purpose through self-reflection. This brought childhood memories of toiling in steaming gardens covered in dew, raising mud covered and happy hogs, collecting brown eggs that yielded deep orange yolks, perusing vibrant farmer’s market stalls, and pitching sweet smelling green hay. Likewise, long-repressed voices of those who influenced my parents in their homesteading and farming endeavors (among them old farmers, Joel Salatin, and the folks at Mother Earth News) bubbled to the surface.

I have always been ideologically opposed to the current corporate commercial agriculture paradigm and therefore never seriously considered a career in agriculture. I could not in good conscience contribute to the erosion of our planet and demise of small family farms. However, I realized that by entering the field of agriculture I could do all of the things that I loved while actively working to shift the mindset of today’s producers, resulting in a positive impact on the industry. I had found purpose in my life and felt a fire in my gut like I had never felt before. This realization led me to switch academic gears and finish with a degree in animal science where I gained working scientific knowledge and insight into the form of agriculture which I wished to change.

Upon graduating I knew that I wanted to be the boots on the ground promoting my idea of agriculture, not confined to a stuffy fluorescent-lit office. This combined with my newfound interest in the movement known as regenerative agriculture drew me to the Quivira apprenticeship program. Through this apprenticeship I hope to gain practical skills related to the care of livestock, an understanding of ranch economics, and knowledge of regenerative agriculture methods. More importantly, however, I hope to foster a meaningful relationship with my mentor and become an active member of this free-thinking, industry-changing, world-saving regenerative community. 

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