Bowsprit provides tools for young people in need, regardless of their background, to recognize, develop and share their own resources. For youth, aged 16-to-20, we offer a two-week intensive immersion into a live-work-learn mentorship program. The programs run year round, offering seasonal land-based activities.
International students at fieldwork. Copake NY 2017
8 – 10 co-ed participants in each session live on the farm in our community residence Hall. The Hall includes a kitchen, and an expandable dining area. Each morning after breakfast, participants will be immersed in innovative land-based work around the farm or in the forest, followed by a shared lunch. Afternoons see the studio spaces active, engaging participants in the work of one or two of our guest craftmasters over the two week session. The focus is always on developing the individuality of each participant in the context of the community.
Time each day is spent on keeping a journal, as well as quiet (guided) meditation. This will take the form of introductions to yoga, Tai Chi, or TM, as available in that 2-week session.
Built into the sessions there are multiple opportunities for conversation and check-in with mentors on an individual basis, as well as informal social times around meals and festivals.
The established rhythm of each day allows for weaving in a variety of tasks, quiet time, intriguing learning, and community-making.
Meals are created together in our commercial kitchen. Participants will be able to experience meal planning and cooking with produce they have grown or gathered themselves. Together we explore why good nutrition is important to our physical and mental health. Breaking bread together with resident farmers, gardeners and foresters, visiting craftmasters, and farm apprentices, we experience the social value of meal-times.
There is a Show Space for studio work to be displayed and recorded. This may include metalwork, woodwork, pottery or fiber work, and will be generally open to visitors. Eventually we hope our programs will earn credit towards high-school diploma.
For investors and donors: part of your investment will provide this Show Space set within a larger community center incorporating a commercial kitchen, dining area for participants, lecture room, studio spaces and simple accommodations. Between programs this center will be open to the local community for a variety of uses.
Efforts towards mentoring, and outreach into the broader community are seen as integral parts of what our programs aim to achieve. Connections with other organizations, and in particular with local farms and independent businesses, open other opportunities for continued engagement and skills development. Sometimes our mentors will be drawn from other states in New England; occasionally from further afield; but our goal is to keep it as local as possible.
Leave your phones at home, they won't be needed here! When requested, phone contact between family members is readily facilitated. Our courses are intensive, focused, and relatively brief - we'll be learning from direct experience, and special bonds are made in this undiluted context, and without outside distractions.
Using the biodynamic farm as a foundation for learning, each morning we work at critical on-farm tasks, from vegetable cultivation, greenhouse work, tending livestock, working with draft animals, harvesting, forestry work, making cheese and other value-added products in the commercial kitchen, and making meals for each other on a rotational basis from food grown on the farm.
Get involved in seeding trays in the propagation greenhouse and harvesting early spring greens in the season extension high tunnels. As the ground thaws, we'll be preparing fields for the coming season. In the barns there is always work to be done. Whether working with the cow herd, the goats and sheep, possibly the horses, the jobs are necessary to keeping our animals healthy, and our food sources sound. Spring finds our animals moving onto pasture from their winter inside - a celebratory time for everyone around.
Help transplant crops from trays to the field, mirroring our shift in attention from protected spaces to the abundant vitality of living soils. While moving different groups of animals through our pasture rotation, watch how the cows greet new paddocks by tasting the soil, pay attention to where the sheep settle in to graze, suggesting differences in soil and pasturage. Learn about benefits and drawbacks to working with tractors or draft animals. Harvest vegetables, help to make yogurt, pack goat cheese for market.
Bring in the last field produce of the season with us, collecting winter squash and digging carrots, pulling orange from dark soil. We'll set them up in our dry room or in the root cellar, planning future meals and well-deserved respite from cold winter weather. Prepare winter greens with row cover and moveable field hoophouses. Get garlic in the ground for next season.
Dress warmly. See what it takes to raise winter hardy greens in the greenhouse and high tunnels. Learn about the challenges, and the joys, of harvesting timber from our forest using tractor and horse power. Join our orchard work as we make our way around the farm, pruning the fruit trees, learning about tree health and what makes trees more like soil than you might think. Oh, and before supper, let's just try that sled run one more time.
Afternoons are spent in workshops learning a craft, from its tools and techniques to uses and history. Our craft-masters have specialties in pottery, weaving, woodworking, welding, and blacksmithing – wherever possible and relevant using raw materials from the farm. We'll also learn to repair and maintain tools and machinery.
Whenever possible, we encourage and facilitate the practice of collaborating with local educational organizations such as Unity College, MOFGA, Waldo Co Technical College, The Ecology Learning Center, as well as local independent businesses who may be interested in developing apprenticeship-type connections with some of our participants.
High-school student Stella Rosacker at boot-making project. Spring 2009
Weekends may be spent hiking, swimming, sledding or skiing, at dances or singing, and preparing for festive meals, at the farm or at nearby places of interest. Those who wish to work on their studio projects may do so with supervision. Bowsprit is bordered by over a mile of frontage along dynamic Sandy Stream, and a seasonal brook runs through the property. The public already enjoys significant access across the farm and through it's woods via the Waldo County Trails Coalition's Hills-to-Sea Trail, and the SnowDusters snowmobile trail. We plan to develop more of a network of trails accessing far-reaching areas of the woods for forestry practices and hiking.
An exhibition on the last day of each 2-week session will allow participants to showcase their work for family and friends - among other things, this will provide for healthy social interface and relationship building.
Learning also happens by spending time together in less-structured, recreational activities.