Friday, May 7, 2010

Kennebunk, ME: Ryan Wilson, The New School

Ryan Wilson is a recent Evergreen State College graduate and a friend; he's the reason we ended up in Whitefield, Maine, as he is living part-time at Maple Tree Farm (see previous post). Finally, as we were driving out of Maine and into New Hampshire, we caught up with Ryan in his hometown of Kennebunk. He is teaching sustainable agriculture to high schoolers at The New School. He is twenty-two. We joined him and his class as they headed out into their field area, which is a farm ("Neverdun Farm" reads the small sign above the house door) belonging to the founder and principal of the school to do some soil testing.

We had abbreviated interviews with three of the students while they collected samples for soil analysis later. Eating locally was a prevalent theme amongst them. The importance of life-enhancing farming practices versus large-scale and chemically-based farming practices was another issue that came up frequently. They were ready to talk about food and seemed very inspired by the class that they were taking.

After his class took off to enjoy the weekend Ryan spent another hour and a half with us, eating almond butter and jam sandwiches and talking about sustainable agriculture in his empty classroom. Ryan talked about why he thinks educating youth about sustainability is crucial and how his own journey into ag started in this same classroom when he was a high schooler here. When asked what Ryan thought about the food system in the United Stated Ryan thoughtfully replied that it is a fascinating reflection of society, that it's appropriate (but not necessarily in a good way) to the way that our society currently functions. What we eat feeds us and in many cases kills us in the same bite. He continued to stress the importance of teaching food and sustainable farming to young people. He also teaches farm design and incorporates high-quality design theory into farm models that consider place, surroundings, goals, and all of the soil, ecology, and climate around a farm.


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