It’s Spring. I’m gratefully sunburnt and finally getting my hands in the Earth after months of frigid temperatures and greenhouse work. A group of community members are gathered to take an educational tour, guided by Farmer John Wilson here at the New Earth Farm in Virginia Beach. Some volunteers are busy foraging edible herbs and flowers for the team preparing the Learning Center for Bonfire Magazine’s Spring photoshoot. A cycle of customers keep our interns and staff busy with questions about how best to keep their home gardens organic, sustainable, and in harmony with the land.
This is the scene on one of thousands of educational farms around the world that are actively educating the growing population of citizens passionate for self sustenance and earth-conscious lifestyle. This is the farm of the Now, where field plows and Roundup are outdated artifacts of a bygone era, where the nonprofit organizations that run them hold classes and workshops that benefit third world communities, and where locavore restaurants, microbreweries, kombucha bars, and sustainability enthusiasts are working constantly to close the gap of farm to table and completely eliminating artificial and genetically modified ingredients. This new format for a farm feels like a New Earth University, but instead of gathering and proving knowledge on paper, the pre-industrial homesteader curriculum and practical skills taught on “better-than organic” farms directly regenerate the Earth and empower the community without all the student loans. There are no drab lecture halls in this hub of higher education: instead, co-working and co-creating with peers sharing this cutting edge lifestyle make learning an enticing experience. Farms like this might be revolutionizing the very concept of higher education institutions.
Photo Credit: Bonfire Magazine
Every single day, people of all demographics are waking up to the fact that modern consumer culture is destroying and toxifying the planet and its inhabitants, including humans. The result is that educational farms have more and more students show up every day, therefore they have more hands to physically regenerate the damage of the industrial revolution and unconscious consumer economy. For every single student who “enrolls” in regenerative agriculture, there is one less human creating demand for the institutions that degrade our planet; these students begin growing food, apply bio-dynamic and natural building applications to their homes and bodies, and support organizations who are helping to spread the movement.
Working in the field allows room for visionary contemplation. I, along with countless other econauts, have a Vision for a New World, and are actively creating it at this very moment. This is a world where young people don’t put themselves in a life-long debt to consumer culture to attend a conventional University that disconnects, but rather, invest their energy in learning to reverse planetary damage on a local impact scale. This new world has an economy that is not based on a small amount of profit-oriented corporations, but instead is based on thousands of communities that rely on local artisans, organic farms, and permanent positive impact in the community to flourish. This world is full of properties where people don’t hate their jobs and resort to destructive vices to escape the 40 hour work week, but instead are inspired by their work to become professors and ethical icons for future generations. The trend of retiring from a corporate job to reconnect with nature through farming is fading fast. Now is the time where people drop their dissociative careers, stressful commutes, and pigpen cubicles, and start doing real earthwork in their youth, enjoying every moment of their sun kissed “offices” with smiling, healthy, and intellectual coworkers.
Photo Credit: Bonfire Magazine
Envision communities where every home is an Earthship Bed & Breakfast that serves only the most delicious food grown, fermented, and raised onsite or on neighboring farms. Where every neighborhood has a learning center equipped with sustainable and appropriate technologies, and every farm has non-profit work opportunities to generate conscious enterprise. Non-profit organizations use funds generated in their community for startup sustainable farms in third world environments to empower victims of the global for-profit industrial economy. Students learn from elders in the sustainable agriculture movement, and learn so one day they too will be professors for a younger generation. The neighborhood is the campus. This New World is already in motion with the rise of educational farms permaculture properties, networks of earth-conscious properties and students, and the rise in glocavore culture (globally conscious locavores). It is our collective generations job to continue to learn, to expand on the concept of the educational farm, and to help build communities where people can live, share, thrive, learn, evolve, ascend, and most importantly, restore an Earth that future generations of Earth-stewards can thrive.