About The Contributors In The Study Guide

Excerpt from the Preface of the Study Guide, written by Andrew Bennett

Some participants were farmers who have developed diverse ecological enterprises to suit their own climates, communities, and cash flow. They’ve been inspired not only by Joel’s Earth-healing ministry, but also by the land-caressing prowess of grazing gurus like Allan Savory, Allan Nation, Ian Mitchell-Inns, and Jim Gerrish, and permaculture paradise builders like Sepp Holzer, Masanobu Fukuoka, Bill Mollison, Mark Shepard, and many other prominent healers.

Some folks hadn’t started farms, not quite yet. They brought a very different trove of relevant, cross-disciplinary experience to the table. And when fresh eyes probe old problems, inevitable the fundamental principles come into clearer focus.

Yet others came from old farming families and agricultural colleges doing it the “conventional” way. Such heavy knowledge shouldn’t be discarded lightly as these farmers work toward a better future of tightly integrated, ecosystemic food production.

In life, change is the only constant. We learn and we adapt. Just yesterday I made a mistake that nearly cost a goat’s life. I retraced the accident and my system has improved. This book is filled with many such anecdotes, both triumphs and tragedies, to help us follow our disparate paths.

More than forty people’s ideas have contributed to the book, each speaking from a wealth of experience.My gratitude to these coconspirators is evident with each exploit I’ve drawn into the story of stackable symbiosis stuffed between these covers. Their passion to sow their knowledge has added layers to the seed bank as we germinate a new world founded in human decency and funded by the real wealth of healthy soils and healthy children.

Bios For Select Contributors:


James Andrews

—James, his partner, and the two coolest kids this side of the Milky Way are on eleven acres in New Zealand, along with about 3.5 million ticks. They’ve been out on the land for eight months and are excited about creating something excellent there.

Caleb Bartlett

—Thirty-six years old and a suburban dweller on Long Island, New York. Caleb suffered a spinal cord injury nineteen years ago that resulted in paralysis and using a wheelchair. In his journey toward health and recovery, he became serious about the food he put in his body, which led to studying agriculture, permaculture, homesteading. Two years ago he discovered Joel Salatin’s work, and it cemented his dream to become a farmer. He left his career in the entertainment industry, and this summer he and his brother had their first season of raised-bed gardening in our yard. They will add chickens and rabbits next spring and plan to get biodynamic certification. Caleb is excited to be one of the first people with an old spinal cord injury to receive stem cell treatment. He is seeing exciting results already that will one day lead to full independence and running his own farm.

 Charlene Berkvens

—Charlene has dreamed of being farmer since she was a child, but her career prevented that until recently. She purchased an eighty-acre property four years ago in the Interlake area of Manitoba. Previous owners used this property for cattle, grain, gravel, and as a mechanic’s yard. Charlene is slowly cleaning up the property, building, and improving the land with livestock and new trees. She currently has a small herd of goats, some chickens and ducks, and pet dogs and rabbits but is hoping to expand and add cattle and pigs. She would really love to be able to produce all of her own food but also sell food to local people and encourages her friends and family to consume locally grown products.

Nathan Boggs

—Nathan and his wife, Ghie, run Fili-West Farms, a Pastured Poultry farm in the Lowcountry of Vance, South Carolina. They are young and intrepid and so is their farm. Established in 2010, Fili-West Farms came into being after Nathan read Joel Salatin’s books “You Can Farm” and “Pastured Poultry Profits”. Inspired, Nathan decided he wanted to become a farmer in order to be a part of the solution rather than settle for the status quo. Fortunately for Nathan, he married a second-generation farmer from the Philippines who was receptive to the idea of starting a farm of their own. They’ve since become one of the Southeast’s premier designers/builders of hot climate chicken tractors. The couple currently raise Pastured Poultry for Chicken, Turkey, and Eggs. Taking part in the Salatin Semester has inspired Nathan to bring Sheep into the mix in the near future in order to meet the local demand for Lamb.

Cari Buziak

—Cari lives in sunny Calgary, Alberta. She is a trained chef (and eater), and currently runs a bakery in Calgary. She’s very interested in her carrots actually tasting like real live carrots, not sticks of orange water, so she has a small garden to grow vegetables to can, freeze, and share with friends who are kind enough to let her make them fat and happy with food.

Lydia Carpenter

—Lydia and her partner, Wian Prinsloo, run Luna Field Farm, a pasture-based livestock operation in Manitoba, Canada. They are “twentysomething” first-generation farmers. Lydia is originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Wian is from Pretoria, South Africa. Their management is informed by the ecological and economic principles highlighted in holistic management and permaculture design. They are not land owners but rather farm on long-term leases on a hundred-plus acres of land, which allows them to expand and contract very easily—and that is fantastic! They have sheep and cattle in rotation, raise pastured chicken and pigs, and also have layers, rabbits, and some dairy goats. They direct-market from the farm and have experienced some exciting growth in business over the past couple of years.

Jordana Diaz

—Jordana has lived most of her life in Montreal, Quebec, but is now gearing up to move to sunny, tropical Panama. In the city she has a lot of houseplants and herbs and has tried her hand at container gardening, growing many vegetables, midget melons, and strawberries. She’s been learning a personal practice of herbal medicine for eight years and loves to make and share her own tinctures and remedies with friends and family. Since she is very familiar with planting in Montreal’s seasons, gardening in the tropics will be like starting over again—but she is excited to grow things she never could in Canada. And now she’d like to buy some land with family members and start a small farm business.

Lee-Anne Diepdael

Lee-Anne and her partner have 7.5 acres in the heart of Langley, BC, where they raise a few goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, and rabbits.  Lee-Anne is an avid gardener and is currently converting the yard in front of the house to a permaculture garden, her workaround to accommodate to her husband’s allergic reaction to lawn mowing.  The rest of the place is mostly mowed by the livestock on their daily walks with daddy. Two lovely Maremmas keep the critters safe from coyotes at night. Lee-Anne endeavors not to use any chemicals on their property, and, other than wormers, they have accomplished this since starting in 2006. Their main goal is to produce healthy, clean food for themselves; any extra is sold to friends and family. Lee-Anne also sells hatching eggs and chicks/ducklings in the spring and raises goats for the ethnic meat market in her area. Her passion is informing anyone who will listen about the dangers of modern-day food production practices on our health and showing them better options.

Paul Ewing

—Paul and his family live on their farm, Shining Moon Farm, in north-central Texas about 30 miles northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They own seventy-four acres, lease forty-five acres from two neighbors, and are looking for more. Sixty of these acres were Paul’s great-grandfather’s farm. Paul double majored in agriculture and computer information systems and consulted and globetrotted for the twenty years after graduated. In 2009, Paul and his wife and daughter moved back to the farm. Paul still works from home on contracts during the day and farms in the morning and evening. Their main product is grassfed beef and pastured pork sold directly to customers through buying clubs and a meat CSA in the area. They’ve done broilers and still have about a hundred layers for egg production. Last year they purchased fourteen acres across the road on which they are planning to unleash some radical restoration agriculture.

 Fabian Hamilton

—Fabian is twenty-two and recently graduated from agricultural college in Nova Scotia. He grew up on his family’s farm with forty-four dairy cows and 250 ewes for lamb production. Fabian is interested in farming in an ecologically sound manner and has a passion for healthy food. He found his education at school very lacking in the unconventional side of farming and wants to learn more about raising livestock in a way that not only protects the environment but also heals it, so he may someday incorporate these methods on his farm.

 Jerel Kratt

—Jerel and his wife and their four homeschooled kids live on a small family farm (own twenty acres and lease another forty to sixty acres) in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Since this seminar, they started a business called Covenant Pastures, where they raise grassfed beef, pastured pork, and pastured eggs. Jerel has been in the commercial farming business as a working professional for over twenty years. He is a certified crop adviser and works for a plant and soil nutrient company. Most of his work has been with larger corporate farms in California, trying to teach them the benefit of adopting a more holistic biological system less dependent on synthetic chemicals.

 Kerri and Todd Leach

—Kerri grew up on a dairy farm, and if anything can cure you of farming, that sure can. But the urge grew twenty-five years later, and Kerri and Todd’s new adventure with farming started three years ago in southeast Idaho on twenty-four acres. They put in a hoophouse, an acre test for a variety of fruits, and have been learning: Geoff Lawton’s PDC, Mark Shepard’s PDC, five days with Sepp Holzer, many days under Elaine Ingham, biodynamic composting with Michael Fields, two years spent gutting, and so much more. They feel incredibly fortunate to have spent time with such amazing minds, investing in their education so they don’t waste funds later. Kerri and Todd have three Katahdin sheep, thirty-five Midget White turkeys, a hundred mushroom logs, some chemical-free bees, and two livestock guardian pups to keep the coyotes and mountain lions at bay. They’ve still got “real jobs” but also have the tools and ambition to put in swales and berms and thousands of trees and shrubs.

 John and Betsie McAuley

—John and Betsie are from the area of Raleigh, North Carolina. They have been married for almost eighteen years and have five children, four girls and a boy, ages thirteen down to five. They are currently in the long process of adopting a little boy from Latvia as well. In 1995, Betsie and John became engaged, and in their second year of college the guy who introduced the couple came home at Christmas talking about this crazy farmer dude he was apprenticing for. He worked hard to sell John and Betsie on dropping out of college and joining him on this farm the next spring. That guy was Joel Salatin’s first apprentice. The McAuleys’ family and friends all thought they had fallen off the deep end, but they put their degrees on hold and became the second apprentices on Polyface in 1996.

They spent six months on the farm learning from Joel and give Joel all the credit for experiences that have helped them in all parts of life. They started their own farming operation, which grew to about four thousand broilers and turkeys per year before the lease was sold for a development. The McAuleys were unable to find another place to move their operation, so they left the farming business behind. Life took its turns, and John’s career in computer architecture took them all over the country to Silicon Valley, Georgia, and back to North Carolina. Today they have five kids who want to farm, and Joel’s book Folks, This Ain’t Normal reignited their passion. They’ve closed on a fifty-acre farm and aim to get going once again, this time for good!

David McDonald

—David is forty-nine and recently quit an eighteen-year-long job with a large software development company. He’s been in technology over twenty-seven years and was an exec running IT, operations technology, but wanted to make the jump from tech to farming. Although they appear different, there are a lot of transferable skills. David recently married his best friend who loved the idea of farming, so out of the city they went . . . but they’re still looking for the right property.

 Dan McLeod

—Dan runs his Buckeye Farm with a focus on permaculture and sustainability. He designed his farm with animals and eco-friendly measures like cover cropping and no-till to solve the problems Big Ag uses pesticides and herbicides to solve.

Kevin Oppermann

—Kevin and his wife raise about a hundred layers and a small herd of grassfed Scottish Highlander cattle on their family farm in Wisconsin, Highland Spring Farm. His farm emphasizes sustainability and ecological practices over organic certification. Kevin also works off the farm in IT.

 Cory Spencer

—Cory S. is a dairy farmer on Vancouver Island. He and his family left city life in 2010 to make the farm, The Happy Goat, home. Their seven acres of land is home to 109 goats (and counting!), many chickens, geese, cats, one cow, and a dog.

 Jen and Zack Stockbridge

—Jen and Zack have a five-acre farm in rural southern Appalachia and are in their fourth year of honey production, third of eggs, second of broilers, and first year of milk cow ownership. They plan to add species to the system—pigs, goats, and geese are next—and begin vegetable production in earnest. Education is a huge interest of theirs, and it will be a big part of their economic sustainability in the future. The pair’s ultimate goal is to make an actual living from their farm, not to have their farm activities simply pay for themselves.

 Cory Theiss

—Cory T. is a single dad of three, an electrical lineman troubleshooter by day and a farmer wannabe by night. He owns a small seventeen-acre farm in Northwest Pennsylvania, and this is his first year actually farming it. Cory has raised two Herefords and a Charlois-cross and has started to raise broilers. He plans to add more livestock and produce, increase customer sales, and grow as much of his family’s food as possible.