Progress report for FNC22-1340
Our ranch is 1000 acres, plus some leased land. This is a fourth generation ranch. My husband has been the owner/operator since 2008. I have lived here since 2013. We have one small hay field, the rest is grazing land. We keep cattle and sheep, and are working toward rotational grazing year round.
Perkins County is one of the most isolated rural communities in the contiguous United States. The vast majority of our community members are agricultural workers, but almost everything we produce leaves our community to become part of the global supply chain. Meanwhile, it is hard for us to travel for anything other than quick supply runs to other towns.
We want to offer our community access to high quality, in-person events and workshops with craftspeople, artists, and educators in regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices and products. This is a challenge for us since we are so remote. We are just as excited to offer the artisans the opportunity to live and work with us so they can get a glimpse into a community at the origins of the supply chain. An artisan-in-residence program will present our community members with other options and perspectives in innovation and sustainability, specifically in regards to value-added products and the creation of a fibershed, as well as potential for agri-tourism through adding artistic elements to area ranches and farms.
1.) Create an 'artisan-in-residence' program that will include direct instruction and in-person demonstrations on our ranch using locally sourced materials when possible such as fleece and both foraged and locally grown herbs, etc.
2.) Offer a stipend to selected artisans so that demonstrations and classes can be offered on a donation/sliding scale basis
3.) Partner with the Bison Public Library to offer additional access in the form of open classes or "visiting hours" with the artisans.
I did not stray at all from the original proposal for the first residency + workshops. I'm planning to stick to this model for the second offering, so I don't anticipate the process will be different from what I describe in the original proposal. The only thing I will be more mindful of is the weather! I planned alternative options for outdoor activities if it rained, but I did not consider what we would do if it was extremely hot. Which it was! For the 2023 Herbal retreat, we will do it much earlier in the summer to avoid (hopefully) having to do the workshops in 100+ degree heat.
For our first retreat on the ranch, I set the cap at 15 participants. I had planned to use a variety of methods to "get the word out" but I didn't end up needing to use most of them! After posting just once on social media with an Eventbrite link, we were full! Through my personal social media, as well as the Bison Library's channels, plus hanging signs around town, we had great attendance at the demonstration + workshop at the library. I also invited people to stop by the ranch even if they couldn't participate in the full 2 day retreat. To my delight I had a few folks take me up on it.
Educational & Outreach Activities
So far, we have held one artisan residency on the ranch. During her residency, Kelly Knispel, a shepherd, fiber artist and educator, led a workshop + demonstration at our local library. Kelly also offered a two-day workshop and demonstration on our ranch using fiber from our flock and locally sourced natural dyeing materials. Participants took home a drop spindle, a felted project and samples of the yarns we dyed.
In addition to posting before and after the workshops on social media, as well as flyers hung around town, I presented the residency program and workshops to an audience comprised of farmers and ranchers from across the state at the Local Foods Conference in Sturgis, SD this fall. I'm including the slides from my powerpoint at the link below as they also include pictures taken during the various demos & workshops.