Learning to Farm the Land!

Blog by: Zian Bustamante, Groundswell Communications Intern

As spring unfolds, so has the pilot Farmer Training Program!

At the end of March, Groundswell launched the Farmer Training Program which facilitates connections between BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) aspiring farmers and the land. Over the course of the last month, the cohort spent time learning at each of the host farms along with visits to other local farms in the area and education sessions on a variety of topics. The host farms include: Van Noble Farm, West Haven Farm, The Learning Farm and The Traditional Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Healing

Ritza, participant, and Giavanna, Program Manager, shape garden beds at the Demo Garden at the Incubator Farm

During the first week, the program hit the ground running at our Incubator Farm with Jay Smith teaching us soil basics. Moving from our Incubator Farm, participants then took a visit to Van Noble Farm where Devon introduced us to the lifestyle of what it means to work with animals. Participants were introduced to the common farm animals and their different digestive systems, herding pigs, and how to set up new land. 

Devon talks to the cohort about the pigs

Our second week started with a visit to the TC3 farm that focused on seed starting and moveable greenhouses. Later in the week, the program was at West Haven Farm with Carlos and Lorena. This was an introduction to organic orchards, starting seedlings and weed management. 

Program participants, Marcus and Lo, re-pot seedlings

Week 3 was all about the Learning Farm with Christa. It was a time for participants to begin to map out their farm visions and start asking big picture questions about creating a larger ecosystem of BIPOC farmers and networks. 

Christa and the cohort in the beautiful Learning Farm barn

Our first month ended at the Traditional Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Healing. The group explored their connection to land, the history of seeds, and the effects of colonization and slavery on our current food system. Additionally, participants learned how to put plastic on a high tunnel and explored common plants used in medicine making. 

Alexas and Maya from TCIKH lead work in the herbal garden beds

We wrapped up with a field trip to King Bird Farm, where we learned more about keeping livestock and having a small integrated crop and animal rotation, along with seeing Karma’s beautiful greenhouse operation. At the Incubator Farm, we prepped beds, learned about tool safety and started our seeds for our own growing space.

King Bird Farm Greenhouse

When asked about their experience so far, one of the participants said; “This month we held space to share more stories with one another and more deeply connect.  It feels good to start growing things and learning about soil and the deep connection that comes with working the land.” 

We’re excited for all that is yet to come in the program! Stay tuned for more!