Age: Middle + High School, Grades 7-12
Title: Permaculture: Nature as a Model for Farming
Permaculture farming uses design principles found in nature as a guide for agricultural design. High school environmental science teacher Cait Ward will provide a review of ecological concepts found in nature that support biodiversity. Justin Torrico, the lead farmer for the non-profit Greenagers, will then share his work in developing a permaculture farm at their new property April Hill, located right off the Appalachian Trail in Sheffield, MA.
Cait Ward always enjoyed being outside as a child, but it wasn’t until college that she developed a deep love for the natural world. After two years of suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome, Cait decided to go off the grid in hopes of finding a reprieve from her constant symptoms. For three months, Cait lived in a yurt village with eleven other students, no running water and limited electricity. This program changed the trajectory of her healing process and her life goals, and ever since, she has worked to apply the lessons she learned then to life in our overstimulating world.
Cait is currently a high school environmental science teacher at Berkshire School, located in Sheffield, Massachusetts, which sits below Mt. Everett on the Appalachian Trail. She teaches AP Environmental Science and developed an Environmental Science Research Program, which she instructs out of a screen-free cabin in the woods behind the school. Outside of the classroom, Cait is an instructor for the Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program based out of the boarding school, and also coaches girls ice hockey. Inspired by her own love of off-grid travel, she has taken students backpacking in Utah and Arizona, dog sledding in Minnesota, sea kayaking in the Everglades and rock climbing in New England.
Cait is currently in the process of founding a non-profit, Concussed, for people suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome. Goals of this program include retreat offerings for those struggling with PCS, consulting for students returning to the classroom after a concussion, and opportunities to connect with a community. You can learn more at www.concussedcait.com.
Justin Torrico-Fawks was born and raised in Mt. Washington, MA. Inspired by the pristine waters and wilderness of childhood, a family dedicated to resiliency and direct experiences with the wisdom of indigenous cultures he has dedicated his life to the stewardship of nature and cultivating pathways to a new regenerative agriculture paradigm.
While studying International Political Economy at Pitzer College Justin became deeply involved in local community organizing, farming, and permaculture/food justice efforts. Upon completion of his degree in 2010, he co-founded Community Cooperative Farms (CCF) and a direct market CSA farm and community organization in Great Barrington, MA. CCF was a project rooted in food sovereignty, restorative economics and justice including everything from the production of food to educating local youth to hosting discussions on community social issues.
After 4 years of farming, organizing and educating in Berkshire county Justin then took time to widen and deepen his knowledge of traditional farming, community organizing and personal health by studying and working with permaculture farmers in Bali Indonesia. While studying permaculture he found a deep connection to the traditional yogic practices and insight meditation. Overtime, Justin began consultation and design services for several farms and intentional community developments in Bali and Northern Thailand. The same work in permaculture design brought Justin to work in the Lower Andes/upper Amazon of Peru for the winter seasons over the last four years.
Justin is currently the farm director and Steward for Greenagers, an organization dedicated to youth, community and the environment – offering employment and educational opportunities in regenerative agriculture and conservation work. He is also the farm manager for Bard College at Simon’s Rock, the Creative director of Syzygy Group, a permaculture design-build cooperative, and a partner in Fern Farm, his family’s homestead farm.