Farm Courses! (Yes, I’m a Fan)

 

Mark Shepard teaching at his farm in Viola, Wisconsin

If in the farming world a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ then actually being on a farm must be worth a thousand pictures.  I went to Montana to take a Sepp Holzer course and studied at Mark Shepard’s farm in Wisconsin (Co-taught with Maureen and Peter Allen). I feel there is no more effective way to convey the teachings of a farmer than to be able to reach out and interact with an actual farm. I saw Holzer stand in a field and state that there was water 15′ below his feet and then a 30 ton excavator dug down at that spot and proved this to be true. In Wisconsin during a course I witnessed the astounding work of Shepard’s farm in full production, and ate ‘un-purchaseable’ meals produced from that land. This on-farm experience helped launch Mark Shepard’s book Restoration Agriculture to my personal top 10 list. I was a big fan of this book prior to the farm course, but being there gave the message a deeper meaning.

Sepp Holzer discusses hugelmound installation in Montana

It is expensive to travel halfway across the USA to take a 10-14 day course. Courses have a financial outlay and take time, but in both of my experiences I strongly feel that what I learned will save me from making costly mistakes and opened my eyes to farm business opportunities that I would have taken a lot of time and money to discover on my own. Courses have given me valuable opportunities to meet people, many of whom are active in the types of endeavors that I aspire to. Hearing new friends ask questions that I haven’t thought of yet rounds out my understanding of the discussion further than I could get to on my own. Although no one lives in my area, I am able to keep up with them via social media, still learning from them and celebrating their efforts.

Peter Allen teaching in Wisconsin

As courses are extremely valuable to my farming journey I’ve budgeted the money to attend courses with Greg Judy and Grant Shultz in the future. 2016 has been challenging for me to take the time for courses. As I wasn’t able to physically attend a course this year, I found the best resource for me is the PV3 Broadacre Video Package. For $99 I feel this course is a superb value.

My take on the PV3 BroadAcre Video Package:
  • I’m considering adding Darby Simpson to my list of future courses, I found a lot of value in his presentation, he is a farmer who has worked out a lot of the issues I anticipate facing in the future. Simpson’s efforts are highlighted in a huge series of podcasts by Diego Footer: Grass Fed Life
  • Greg Judy and Grant Schultz give talks, I really appreciated this as I plan to attend their courses in the future. Judy has a proven method of no input cattle ranching and Schultz is (in my opinion) an agro-wizard of note who develops insightful farm hacks and has bootstrapped his farm into a successful enterprise.
  • I met Jack Spirko in Montana at a course, he and his wife own Nine Mile Farm, I see myself attempting to implement the teachings of his presentation on farming ducks. Spirko also discusses farming in some episodes of his podcast The Survival Podcast.
  • Darren Doherty is a great new resource for me in the fact that he doesn’t adhere to any one discipline of thought when it comes to the future of agriculture, he seems to embrace them all under his Regrarians Platform. I’ve just been introduced to Doherty in these video presentations, and will keep learning from him, there is a lot here for me.
  • 1880 Farm is connected to the internet via cellphone hotspot, unfortunately I disconnected too early from the fast internet I was visiting while downloading the Eliza Greenman orchard presentation, I’m really looking forward to getting it, as all of the other presentations have been fantastic.

All in all, I cannot recommend PV3 Broadacre Video Package enough. Even if I had been able to attend on-farm courses this year I still would get this. The lectures presented are as strong as any I would expect to attend at the best farm courses, and the $99 price is less than the transportation cost for any course I have looked in to.

-Josh

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