Memoirs of Aspiring Future Farmers
It was a beautiful yet chilly Saturday morning. The bitter cold resonated against my cheekbones as I walked hastily to reach the doorknob dividing me from the welcoming warmth of the building. On November 23, 2013, Main Street Project’s Agripreneur Training Program graduated five individuals from three families and celebrated their achievements during the 10 week business course offered exclusively in Spanish.
In these times of celebration and gratitude, we feel a sense of community. These families inspire Main Street Project staff and remind us that with every step we take, we are moving in the right direction towards building a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable food system.
Here are a few words by Main Street Project’s executive director, Niel Ritchie: “These are always wonderful occasions. People who take the training are really incredible. They spend a lot of time trying to learn something that will make their lives better. For me, I feel like it’s really an honor for us to have a chance to work with them. That’s how I think about it. It’s humbling.”
The graduates also expressed their gratitude for having the opportunity to participate in the Agripreneur Training Program. A mother of four and housecleaner thanked the trainers: “Thanks Bob and Sebastian for having patience to teach us. I hope to use what we’ve learned in the future.” Her husband was thankful the program existed, and added “Thanks for offering this program. I didn’t know it existed, and I hope that in the future I can use all that I’ve learned and put it into practice.”
Another aspiring couple expressed gratitude for a newfound knowledge of both, the conventional and sustainable, food systems. “Before, we didn’t know about the conventional poultry system and about managing a free-range poultry business. I think we learned a lot in this program. I hope I can use what I’ve learned to better our lives”, said another mother of four and commercial cleaner. Her husband agreed: “Thank you for informing us about this expanding market. I think we have learned a lot.” A previous Agripreneur Program graduate also attended the graduation: “I graduated from the program two years ago. It feels great to see new graduates. I come back to the offices of Main Street Project every time there is a graduation to show my support.”
Training Director Bob Kell also offered continual support to the recent graduates: “We want to thank you for participating in the Agripreneur Training Program. We hope that it has given you a basic understanding of how to manage a business and an opportunity to explore a system for the sustainable production of poultry, should you decide to become a producer. We at Main Street Project want to assure you that we are here to offer our support as you further detail your plans. We wish you success.”
Main Street Project staffer Sebastian Burset added: “I’m really happy to see that they had the opportunity to go through the training and learn things that are going to help them in their future projects. I know many of them are going to, either here or in their home country, pursue agricultural projects. I’m also really happy to see that they learned the components of business that they previously had little knowledge about. This knowledge is not only going to help them in their business endeavors but also in their daily lives.”
Last but not least, chief operating officer, Reginaldo (Regi) Haslett-Marroquin expressed: “This is the end of a very small initial step in a process of re-defining your family’s role in the food system. It is the first step in becoming a driver of a sustainable proposition that shifts the balance between tirelessly working for a system and potentially running one’s own food enterprise. A food enterprise and family farm that delivers not only economic opportunity, but also health, wellbeing and quality of life.”