A Late Summer Note from the Founder by Molly Rockamann

by Jenna on September 12, 2017

50 Years. “Some day we’ll be celebrating this many years of training new farmers,” I thought as I followed the meandering path through the citrus, peach, and apple trees of the Alan Chadwick Garden at UC-Santa Cruz, my farm school alma mater. In late July I headed to Santa Cruz, California, back to where much of this dream was started, for their 50th anniversary. As an apprentice at UC-Santa Cruz’s Center for AgroEcology & Sustainable Food Systems back in 2005, I experienced not only what it was like to grow a substantial amount of your own food, but also how to do that in partnership with nature, and with a community of fellow learners and teachers. It’s inspiring to see how many farms, gardens, and educational programs have spawned from that one place, and I’m grateful to have had not only the opportunity to immerse myself in such a fine agricultural education 12 years ago, but also to go back and pay respects to the place where a seed was planted in me. For me, those six months were as much about awakening the dream of creating a place where people could learn and work and dream and eat and make art together as much as it was about learning to farm and garden. My farmy friends remember me as the apprentice who put on a full-fledged farm musical while there, and I was delighted to not only hear that the legend of “Farm Grease, the musical” lives on [some current apprentices said, “You’re the one who put that on?” (ha!)], but that there is talk of doing another musical there.
Farms are a natural stage for featuring the drama of life, after all. On farms there is life, and death, and intrigue, and villains (pests), and heroes, and many plot twists and turns as nature and weather have their way with it. It’s long been a part of the EarthDance dream to find ways to bring the arts and music alive on the farm. Thus far, we’ve seen that happen with Plein Aire painting days, photographer visits, mural painting, backyard concerts, and many an apprentice inspiration-share that included song, slam poetry, or dance. As we look forward to our 10th anniversary year next year, we’ll look for even more ways to make the arts and music come alive on the farm, and to emphasize the DANCE in EarthDance.
After all, it was only fitting that one of the highlights of the UC-Santa Cruz 50th Anniversary weekend was a barn dance, followed by a late night dance party in the farm center.
Learn more about the history of the UC-Santa Cruz farm and apprenticeship program here.

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