- 100% say the program at Rainshadow Farm changed or enhanced their attitudes about food, sustainable drylands agriculture, and sustainable food systems.
- 100% say they care more about where their food comes from now.
- 80% either are now or plan to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diets.
- 100% say they have begun or want to begin planting their own gardens, appropriately sized to their living spaces.
- 95% say they plan to buy more locally sourced foods and grow some of their own.
- 50% are interested in raising and eating their own meat.
- 100% have become interested in ethical meat production, largely through a partnered local organic farm and a Rainshadow Farm group member’s ranch.
- 100% are more comfortable interacting with new people and more open to new experiences due to the farm day activities and workshops.
- 100% have enjoyed working collaboratively.
- 43% felt that there were no drawbacks to working in collaborative workshops and that “trusting the group process” and taking that process seriously, with intent to hear all voices, would bring a viable result in our work.
- 58% had concern that political and religious differences could bring disharmony to the collaborative workshop organizing, yet 100% of this group felt optimistic, from our experience at Rainshadow Farm, that such discord could be solved in the end.
- 92% feel that the collaborative work at Rainshadow Farm has increased their capacity as leaders in an experiential learning situation. This held true even among people who may not have viewed themselves as “leaders” prior to taking part in the learning ecologies
- 92% feel that experiential learning is the most effective way to generate socioecological awareness and foster sociological intelligences.
- 100% say the program of workshop-building and participation at Rainshadow Farm has enhanced their sense of how we are all related to the natural world.
- 100% of the learning ecology organizers and participants felt that one of the most important factors in making the workshop organizing and implementation successful was “having fun.
Often, in modern Western education, the deep and evolutionary value of oral teaching and learning (including, gestural teaching and learning as in storytelling, dance, and communal visual arts) has been ignored, perhaps in ways that damage human relationship with their environments and impoverish our relationships with one another. Ways of including oral teaching and learning at Rainshadow Farm have included making time for people to tell their stories, which are all beneficial to all of us. People then take time to listen to and give value to each other’s stories, and this helps build relationship. We are beginning to incorporate cultural and eco-cultural workshops at the farm to further encourage oral communication. We also have emphasized interacting directly with elements of nature; interactions with animals and other people; emphasized the importance of reflective learning; and taken time to talk to one another about gardening/farming experiences. One of the Rainshadow Farm research co-participants likes to say that “farm talk is a leveler,” indicating that it is one way we have overcome various disagreements during our farm day events. While a lecture format is one way of passing down oral tradition, in a farm setting we have the freedom to engage with both brief lecture and more experiential means of conveying knowledge.
The farm day group, as a whole, was somewhat interested in the place of the arts in an experiential, farm-based collaborative curriculum. In general, the Rainshadow Farm group, at any given time, has consisted of 25% artists: graphic artists of all kinds, dancers, musicians, and performance artists. The artists have been interested in ways that any form of art might be a doorway to community-building and to fostering socioecological intelligences. Several Rainshadow Farm co-participants want to bring more emphasis to “cultural sustainability” as sustainability learning. If re-skilling is a tool for restoring localization and bringing the production of food, energy, and essential goods closer to home, there is a role for local artists to play in the process. The arts – including visual, performance, and musical arts – are as essential for fostering and building thriving local communities as the ability to grow food ecologically, local ethnobotany, and innovative drylands growing practices.
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