Starting a Farm from Scratch: Part 1
by Chris Grataski
"Finally made it up to Roots School for a primer in core skills this summer. Something deep inside of me has shifted as a result... Engaging with traditional skills reconnects me to my humanity. These skills provide a healthy level of challenge for mind, body, & spirit - and a very healthy dose of humility in feeling like an infant in a realm that is so fundamental to our existence (and yet so forgotten.)
Sarah and Brad are skilled facilitators who have been immersed in these skills and the subsequent lifestyle in a committed & consisted manner for quite some time... "walking the walk." They get out of the way and deliver the skills in the most clear, accessible, & honest way I could envision.
For anyone who's curiosity is piqued at these notions, I strongly encourage you to heed the call and take a basic course. It's one of the best things I've ever done for myself. Be warned though: you may want to drop everything else in your life and move out to the woods to flintknap and set up traps after you go..."
"I had looked into Roots years before attending my first class but for a while was too intimidated to sign up. As someone with very little experience with primitive skills or really any basic outdoor skills I thought I'd feel pretty out of place and wasn't sure I could hack it.
Finally a close friend who had been with the school since its start convinced me to check it out. Rendezvous was a good intro for me because it was a small committment and felt open-ended. I also figured taking a variety of small workshops offered at Rendezvous would help me choose my first full-length course. Nick's intro to Hide tanning did the trick! He made it seem approachable, even for an exceptionally OCD germaphobe like me. I got signed up the week after Rendezvous and have tanned three of my own hides since and have been to at least six additional courses.
I credit the instructors at Roots with making me a more curious person. It's odd how much more interesting and exciting the day-to-day is when your mind is re-wired to look for new knowledge in what used to be routine. I walk away from each course at Roots with a beautiful product or a wealth of new knowledge and skills, but also with an endless list of questions. I look at my daily landscape with new eyes - What is this plant? How can I use it? Why is it growing here?
It's what keeps me going back. Also, no matter the course subject, Roots has become an opportunity to get away, clear my mind, and unplug. Courses at Roots, are in all seriousness, my favorite way to vacation regardless of season."
"Your teaching style is just my cup of tea. Detailed, informative, clearly knowledgeble but also laid back. You all have a genuine enthusiasm for what you teach and your skills are insane.
Yours was a genuine experience, with sound people where I felt like I was being taught to the highest standard by people who really knew their craft and who truly supported pushing the skills. You don't palm your students off with vague answers or flimsy delivery. You know what you're talking about and you share that knowledge generously from the moment the course starts to its end, even when the days are long, packed out with new skills to learn. I've never felt like there was any bullsh*t with you."
"I really like how conversational and open your teaching style is. I feel like you treat the students like they're your friends, and you're always willing to answer questions. You never say, "that's in a different class", or anything like that. You also provide really honest feedback about the work the students do.
Your classes have given me a lot of practical knowledge in primitive skills that I've been able to apply independently, and have also provided me with the background knowledge to continue learning independently as well."
"Completing the Origins Program through the Roots School was easily my greatest professional development experience to date. Having studied as an architect and builder with strong interests in the origins of tool development and technology, Roots was able to provide me with invaluable hands-on immersion that allowed me to test notions of theory into practice.
I am also an educator and have been able to adapt these experiences and know-how successfully, and with positive outcomes, in the classroom. In a world of ever growing specialization these skills help me to stand out among my colleagues, and further have helped to develop my own voice and interests as a designer. Since taking the program I have advanced in my position at the workplace, due in no small part to the confidence I gained at Roots developing applied traditional skills and re-imagining them to my contemporary context.
The outdoor element of the Roots programming also helped develop in me a great awareness and sensitivity to the natural world that I have fortunately been able to apply through the lens of environmentalism and in a practical way by co-leading outdoor trips with my own students - - an aspect of education that I have only now been able to access. I highly recommend the Roots programs and instructors to anyone with interest in traditional skills, outdoor leadership, survival training, herbalism, and safe wild edible harvesting."