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Meet Rachel Laase, 3-Year Apprentice

Rachel Laase, EA 3-Year Apprentice

Image: Rachel Laase, 3-Year Apprentice

My name is Rachel Laase, and I’m in the second year of my 3-year apprenticeship. I originally studied Art at San Francisco State University, printmaking and textiles specifically. Upon graduating, I worked at farmers markets and a local flower nursery, in the San Francisco Bay Area, which allowed me to connect with the farming/gardening community. As I started learning about our current food system, I knew I wanted to begin taking responsibility for growing as much of my own food as I could. I also started to question the fibers I was using for my weaving projects and to learn how destructive that industry is as well. As a result, I began researching how to grow plant fibers and which plants could be used to dye the materials. I decided to leave the Bay Area and move closer to family. I started working on an organic farm, and I’ve been farming ever since. Now I even want to grow my own T-shirt!

A mutual friend introduced me to Matt Drewno, the manager at the Green Belt Mini-Farm. I shared my interest in learning about farming and becoming more self-reliant with him. He told me about the work that Ecology Action is doing, and within 2 weeks, I moved to Mendocino County and started my apprenticeship.

The first year of my apprenticeship was spent at the Green Belt Mini-Farm on the Mendocino coast, but now I’m working at The Jeavons Center in Willits. The sites are radically different from each other. Willits has a much hotter climate, the plants grow differently, and this site is on the side of a mountain. It has its challenges but, it is also incredibly beautiful. Since moving here, I’ve been able to start my research on growing fibers and have taken on the task of being the organization’s librarian.

There is so much destruction happening in our current agricultural systems that people are literally farming ourselves into famine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The work of Ecology Action allows people to take responsibility and to examine what sustainability really means. Everyone can and should be able to live well.

 I am inspired by the relationships that I’ve been continuing to build with the natural world. There is so much to learn, so much to discover. When I walk around the garden, there is such abundant life; having the opportunity to be a part of that is truly an honor. Having the chance to observe how everything grows and changes from season to season, the ebbs and flows, I can’t help but be in awe and feel incredibly humbled. I am also inspired by the hard work and dedication that everyone has in this organization. Being here makes me feel hopeful about the future and the changes we can achieve.

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