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Planting for Tolerance, Diversity, and Social Capacity

October 12, 2012

October 12 is recognized as National Farmers Day honoring and recognizing the work farmers do for our country. Today’s guest post comes from Cynthia D. Swenson, M.Ed, Founder of ABUNDANCIA and Executive Director of The Sharecroppers Garden.

As a farmer, I do not remember any particular kohlrabi, turnip, kale, apple, or raspberry. Rather, I think about paradox. I think about, how far I had to travel to come home to the farm. I think about the conflicts that erupted into friendships. I think about working hard to rest.

Masanobu Fukuoka says,

“When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

I am a farmer and I plant for tolerance, diversity, and social capacity. This writing is my thoughts about the vast discipline of farming and learning after levels of maturity. The intended outcome of these words is to show my commitment to critical and current service learning and ability to produce scholarship that informs life and institutions on the wide range of topics associated with civic wisdom.

I began developing my farmer sensibilities early in life. First, as an AmeriCorps fellow in Volunteers for Outdoor Washington (VOW). VOW trains our volunteers to be stewards of the environment. My work with them partnered me with land managers to build trails, restore habitat, and preserve Washington State’s rich heritage.  Through that service learning project, I found that I learn best  outdoors.

After the Completion of that service I went on to become the Principal Investigator of TEAMS/AmeriCorps. A TEAM is a Teacher Preparation fellowship dedicated to strong academic and leadership potential. One of my responsibilities included planning Seminars that met the Seven Step Model for Developing Quality Service Learning Projects, as each participant was required to complete a service learning project in their individual schools. The training programs works inclusively with people from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds.

As a farmer and teacher, I am influenced by many disciplines within education, including: Secondary Education, Content Standards and Assessment, English Literacy, Civics Education, Family Literacy, Mathematics in Adult Education and Literacy, People with physical challenges, Professional Development, Reading, Technology, and Distance learning, Transitions to Post-secondary and Work-Based Education.

Adult Education is a complex network of multidisciplinary teaching and learning communities dependent on innovation in foundation development and assessment. All learners have their own social cultural perspectives and biological psychological stages in life that much literature has been written about. But, for the mature learner, many texts characterize adult learners as clients or “nontraditional” rather than students. I could be described as a nontraditional farmer as I became one after I turned 45.

My work with TEAMS, trained me to be an agent of change and  I have dedicated myself to successful relationship building with multiple groups of institutions, creating pathways for students beginning their preparation for graduate level course work.

I am a farmer and I plant for tolerance, diversity, and social capacity. 

To learn more about ABUNDANCIA gardens, you can find them on Facebook. You can also learn more about Cynthia Swenson from The Woodinville Weekly.

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