A sustainable teaching farm which forms caretakers in the practices, lifestyle, and spirituality of sustainable land care and food production.
Mary’s Farm is a demonstration and teaching farm. At the heart of the farm is a yearly a cohort of Bethany Caretakers: a group of Ugandan students from rural areas who commit to a year-long residential program learning small-scale, sustainable farming practices. Caretakers also learn the business side of farming including: start-up loans, financing for seeds/equipment, and how to utilize markets. Finally the caretakers will go through a program of personal, spiritual and leadership formation, equipping them with a revolutionary sense of mission to “till the land and care for it” and with the necessary skills to be leaders in their communities.
After graduation each Caretaker will set up their own farm plot and train three apprentices in the next three years, thus the education mission and spirit of Bethany Land Institute will be spread to other rural communities. To ensure their success, and the success of the Caretaker Program, each graduate will receive regular visits following graduation. The home visits are occasions for both support and accountability; to encourage graduates as they start out, assist with problems on their farms, ask for feedback on the Caretaker Program, and maintain connection with the mission and spirit of Bethany. For this end, there will also be an annual convocation of the graduates. The hope is that the Caretaker Program will grow into a community/network of enthusiastic, educated farmers enriching the land while supporting themselves with dignity.
To ensure great success and impact candidates for recruitment into the Caretakers program must have a proven interest in agriculture, show eagerness for learning sustainable farming patterns and readiness and discipline for economic innovativeness. Qualifying youth and women will be particularly encouraged to apply to the program.
The farm will also have an outreach program through which non-residential day or half day classes taught by Caretakers will be offered to local residents, at little or no cost. Topics will be chosen by the pair of Caretakers teaching the class, and could range from irrigation techniques to orchard pruning, and everything in between.
Taking inspiration from Mary, the model disciple, the program is one of formation in the practice and spirituality necessary for the vocation to “till the land and take care of it.”