The day before the second graduating class at the Grange Farm School received their certificates, gifts, and parting words of wisdom from staff, friends, family, and community members, the Grange Farm School took a field trip to the Mendocino Coast. There we learned from and herded approximately 400 of Leland Falk’s intensively grazed flock of sheep at Sea Ranch and met his grazing colleague Mark Biaggi. Mark and Leland graze marginal pasture up and down the coast to mitigate fire threat and reclaim degraded soils.
The concepts behind holistically managed, grass based livestock rotation, inspired the theme of the graduation speech for the Farm School students:
Graze Hard, Rest Well.
Practicum Student Program graduates worked intensively at gaining the essential skills necessary to operate a successful (profitable, responsible, values driven) farm or ranch. They “grazed hard” on the available information, our dense network of experts and mentors, the opportunity to learn experientially. Now they have completed the program and it is time to ruminate, chew the cud, absorb and reflect.
After preparing a meal of primarily Farm School grown produce (fried banana squash, black eyed peas, stewed collard greens in GFS chicken stock, sweet potato pie, and a hearty salad) the students sat down to dinner with their community. Jamie, Danny, Joshua, Riley, and James lived and worked together for three months acquiring a toolbox of skills covering crop and soil science, livestock management, industrial arts, business management and interpersonal relationship strategies.
Fortunately for Northern California, all of the graduates this term are interested in working in the area. In fact, one secured a job before she even graduated! Read more about the Farm School graduates, including Jamie, in this article by the Willits News:
Jamie Golden, who was unsure of what she wanted to do in agriculture at the term’s start, will be joining the farm crew at Open Field Farms, a 500 acre biodynamic community supported agriculture farm in Sonoma mid-December. Only several years old, Open Field is entirely owned by its members with the goal to “provide all their food,” including produce, meat, eggs, grains, beans, and other diverse offerings.
“The program was really good for me to get a sense of what I was interested in, and then find a farm like that,” elaborated Golden, saying “I came here unsure of what I wanted to do, and now I’m leaving with a job.”