About Us - Grange Farm School

California State Grange Center for Agricultural Arts

  • About Us

The Grange Farm School works to improve agricultural literacy, food security, and ecological stewardship in our community and beyond. Our flagship project offers trainings that cover diverse methods of holistic crop and livestock production for aspiring farmers, home scale producers, and youth. We provide hands-on experience and education to train the next generation of responsible farmers, the crucial and severely lacking element to sustainability. Our school trains the whole farmer by teaching holistic agricultural production methods coupled with industrial arts, business, and marketing skills. We recognize the immediate need to train farmers to support themselves through economically viable farm operations balanced with a focus on production and distribution methods that emphasize long-term environmental responsibility.



History

Ridgewood Ranch

The Grange Farm School is located on the 5,000 acre Ridgewood Ranch 6 miles south of Willits. The Ranch has an incredible history of inhabitants, including Northern Pomo people, sheep and cattle ranchers, racing horse moguls, loggers, and now Christ’s Church of the Golden Rule. The valley that contains Ridgewood Ranch is full of natural beauty and peace, photos don't do it justice. The Golden Rule Association hosts several other non-profits on the property including Ecology Action and TRAIL riding program. Visit their website for a more indepth history: Ridgewood Ranch Website

North Coast Opportunities

NCO is the county’s Community Action Agency, established as a nonprofit in 1968 with the mission of assisting low-income and disadvantaged people to become self-reliant through community organizing and collaboration. NCO’s 12-member tripartite Governing Board consists of elected officials, business representatives, and community members, including low-income residents. NCO provides a safety net of emergency assistance, employment, and training services for low-income families through such programs as Foster Grandparents, the Volunteer Network, Head Start, and Early Head Start. NCO has also developed entrepreneurial green energy and transportation programs that have become successful independent nonprofits.  NCO website




The Grange

The Grange, or Patrons of Husbandry, is a 147 year old fraternal organization for rural farmers to connect with and support each other. Started right after the Civil War, the Grange was a secret society that was very progressive for the time, even allowing women to be officers. The Grange fought many battles to ensure rights for farmers, beginning with an epic battle against railroad monopolies. Today the Grange does not operate under a veil of secrecy, instead serving its membership and community with networking and education. For more information, visit California State Grange Website


Staff Bios

Ruthie King, Farm Site Manager of the Grange Farm School

Ruthie King grew up in Southern California before attending Columbia University for a Bachelors degree in Architecture and Sustainable Development. There she studied planning and design, focusing on ways to integrate sustainability into the built environment. Her thesis covered the topic of LEED for Neighborhood Development, a rating system designed to encourage sustainable communities, and she studied GIS and mapping extensively. When she graduated, she moved to Washington State to live and work on farms practicing alternative construction and natural building techniques including cob and earth structures, converted shipping containers, living roof structures and more.

After working at a several farms in the area on both sustainable building and historic barn restoration, she landed at a beautiful historic dairy barn with a family hoping to bring dairy cows back to their land. Upon completing the milkhouse renovation, she worked with the family to develop the framework for maintaining and milking a small herd of cows while selling the raw milk and cheese on site. Concurrently working for a veterinarian in town while substitute teaching at the public school gave her confidence working with animals and children. She then moved to the James Ranch in Colorado- a produce, eggs, pork, and grass-fed beef and dairy farm where she studied the integrated and diverse farming structure, while engaging in the daily milking routine and CSA operations. Her diverse skillset has prepared her for the enormous, rewarding task of helping to start up the Grange Farm School.


Michael Foley, Acting Executive Director

Michael Foley has been an educator for over 40 years, starting with high school teaching, then at the university level. In the 1980s and 90s he carried out research in Mexico on peasant producer organizations and rural rebellion. Also in the 90's he led two research projects in El Salvador on rural community organizations and the role of NGO's in peacemaking and development. In 1997-98 he served as a Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace.

Ten years ago Michael left academia to farm, first in Maryland, now in California. Working with WWOOFers and other informal interns convinced him that we need more opportunities for aspiring farmers to get hands on experience as well as formal education in sustainable agricultural practices. Together with his wife, Sara Grusky, Michael runs Green Uprising Farm in Willits, California, where he also serves as Market Manager for the Willits Farmers Market and President of Little Lake Grange.


Antonia Partridge, Co-Founder of the Grange Farm School

Antonia began teaching agriculture at Mendocino College in 2001, and from 2008-2012 Antonia managed 4 acre Willits High School Farm and 1 acre Brookside School Farm. She led students in farm production of diverse crops and livestock as well as linking the farm to practical business and marketing experience. Antonia taught nutrition education classes linking gardens and kitchens. In addition to teaching, Antonia has been employed as a habitat restoration practitioner for the National Park Service in Yosemite and Point Reyes and as a farm advisor and agricultural researcher for the University of California Cooperative Extension.

Antonia Partridge’s education includes a BS in sustainable agriculture from the University of California at Davis. Continuing education is important to her and she attended a Permaculture designer course, classes in Bio-Intensive Agriculture, natural building, mushroom cultivation, and community development. She interned on farms throughout the west coast of the United States and in Latin America. In 2001 she started a off-grid, homestead scale, farm of her own, Living Hills Homestead, where she hosted WWOOFers for 8 years. Antonia now lives in Willits, CA, with her husband, Josh, and daughter, Flora, in the 100 year old Craftsman Bungalow the family is restoring.


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