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Author: McKenzie Smith


YS Wildlife Habitat Community: Smith ’23 at Agraria in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Mar 23, 2021

“We envision a world where people live regeneratively and cooperatively in local communities that are diverse, equitable, and just.”

This winter quarter 2021, I have had the exciting opportunity to co-op at Agraria, a regenerative farm located in Yellow Springs that is part of the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. In just a few weeks of working here, I have gone out of my comfort zone in many ways which has been nerve-racking, but ultimately an opportunity to grow.

One of the main assignments I am working on is building a website for the Yellow Springs Wildlife Habitat Community. This is a group dedicated to the village-wide wildlife habitat certification through the National Wildlife Federation. I have no background in website building, so this project seemed a bit overwhelming, but it has been fun and I have been learning a lot. I am the main person working on the website for now but I have help from others in the group and at Agraria. We are hoping to get a good bit done by the end of my co-op before passing it on to someone else.

I am also helping with a few hands on projects at Agraria. I went on a manure run to the Riding Center, and I also helped get a start building the new hoophouse. I have never done outdoor, hands on labor, so this was an interesting experience for me. I was nervous to do the wrong thing, or be in the way, but the people I work with are very supportive and helpful. Ultimately working outside was an opportunity to grow and learn more about the work they do. The weather is a big factor in the work that I do. If the weather isn’t too cold, I am on site, but if it is too muddy or cold, I am inside working on the website or any other indoor projects they might need a hand with.

While working, I tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be quarantined. This affected my work greatly, and I stayed home for two weeks developing the website further. luckily, I have support at Agraria and they were flexible with me. The work Agraria does is extremely important to me. They are working hard to bring the community together with sustainable farming practice and education on growing food. The work I am doing is very new to me, but I am excited to grow and learn from my experience here.

Photo Credit: Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions Facebook page


Protecting Farmland from Home: Smith ’23 at the Tecumseh Land Trust in Yellow Springs, Ohio

May 12, 2020

Even as I sit in a makeshift office in the corner of my room, speaking with Krista Magaw from the Tecumseh Land Trust over my low quality webcam, I feel the prominent presence of their mission statement: “Protecting local farmland, water, and natural areas forever.” The Tecumseh Land Trust is much more than their famous sunflower field; they are a group of educated, passionate, and hard-working people working to conserve land and help farmers. The circumstances of my first co-op are definitely not what I expected, but I do know even at home that, my work, their work, is just as important and full of passion as ever.

The Tecumseh Land Trust co-op involves a good amount of work with the community, such as interviews and coordinating social and educational events. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic, the in person work has been halted and everything I do is through the screen of my chrome book. Though I am unable to do those parts of my job, I honestly believe I am getting just as much if not more from the job. Everyday I am reading articles and watching documentaries, all about local farms and sustainable agriculture. I have been included in Community Solutions meetings on helping the community and local farmers with difficulties they are facing, and I also keep a journal of what I learn from everything I read and watch. I am still able to post on their social media, which is also a large part of the job.

As an environmental science major, the work the land trust does is very important for me to understand. Before I started this job, I had very little understanding of farming, and how important and beneficial it can be when it is done in a sustainable way. The work I am doing that I mentioned above has educated me in farming in countless ways, and has cemented my passion in my major. I have had a door opened through my work with the land trust, that is showing me how important my work is.

The work that the Tecumseh Land Trust does is much more than planting a sunflower field; it is helping farmers and saving farmland, as well as other natural components around us. They understand the importance of farming sustainably and the natural world around us, and I am so lucky to be a part of that.

The current pandemic has my co-op limited in a few ways, but I feel I am still doing something huge. This experience has been full of learning and challenges, but I couldn’t have asked for a better place to co-op and experience it with. I am ready to take on my major in a new light, and when the world opens back up, I will be ready for that too.

Photo credit: Julie O’Loughlin