A big and warm welcome to 2017 Grow Whidbey School Farm production apprentice Mike Ferncase!
“I grew up in Encinitas, CA known mainly for it’s surf, and producing most of the Poinsettia’s for the U.S. Despite the large number of farms and other agricultural facilities I never really considered farming a viable career path. It wasn’t until I got out of the Army last May that my eyes were opened.
I’ve always had a passion for working with children, but it wasn’t until working on my first farm that I discovered which direction I wanted to take that passion. I joined the Army as a medic so I could learn to help people. After training I was assigned to pediatrics, where I worked for two years. Upon leaving the Army I was afforded the opportunity to work on a non-profit organic farm. This experience drastically changed my ideas about how I could make the greatest impact on my community. I had many duties while working at that farm, but the one that gave me the greatest sense of fulfillment was working with the underprivileged children that lived in the transitional housing the farm funded. Teaching local kids about the food they ate while helping them to develop a sense of understanding and respect for their environment was immensely gratifying. After that experience I needed more so I set out for SE Asia where I worked in several different farm-like environments over the span of about seven months.
I take immense pleasure in working on the land, and these experiences over the last year have only forged a stronger passion for environmental science and education which I plan on returning to school for once this apprenticeship is over. I believe working in medicine, and on farms has instilled a unique perspective for me. It’s quickly become apparent that farming is very much like medicine. Just as medicine uses science to help the patient, there is a science to cultivating healthy crops, and just as medicine requires a strong bedside manner, farming requires a thoughtful and compassionate nature to produce the desired products. This apprenticeship has only reinforced this belief, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to impart this knowledge and understanding to the next generation on a daily basis. Teaching children about the earth has been the most incredible, transforming experience in my life so far, and I can’t wait to continue that journey here in this amazing community.