2008 Program Launch

In late March MESA welcomed 35 Core Training Program (CTP) stewards to its annual orientation. This year’s CTP group represents farm communities in Peru, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Mexico.

MESA Core Training Program Launched


MESA kicked off the new program season by hosting its week-long orientation at bucolic Hidden Villa Farm and Wilderness Center in Los Altos, CA. This is the fifth consecutive year that Hidden Villa (also a MESA host) has partnered with MESA to help us welcome a new crop of international farm stewards. The week was jam-packed. Besides overcoming jetlag and acclimating to their new surroundings, MESA stewards got to know MESA’s US staff, met fellow stewards, and were introduced to a few of California’s agricultural luminaries, most notably:

  • MESA host John Jeavons, the founder of Ecology Action, spent an entire day–in the classroom and field–describing the value and application of his GROW Biointensive methodology.
  • MESA host Scott Murray, San Pasqual Academy’s Farm Program Director and Scott’s wife, Laura Murray, state inspector for California Certified Organic Farmers, led the group on a mock certification of Hidden Villa Farms.
  • Dave Runsten, Executive Director of Community Alliance of Family Farmers, gave a bilingual presentation on the current state of affairs of US agriculture and the impacts of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Special guest, James Parks, a professional facilitator and radio personality from Chicago, IL was the MC for the first few days of the orientation. Parks’ specialization is in breaking down cultural and social barriers in group dynamics using creative tools and methods to draw everyone into the experience. His unique style was well received. The safe and supportive environment that was established helped to make the remainder of the week highly successful.


The stewards from Peru and Ecuador were accompanied by representatives from MESA’s Global Partner organizations in those countries. Yadira Bedon, Director of Huayra Causay in Quito Ecuador, and Aida Bustamente and Daniel Rabkin, Administrators of El Huerto in Lima, Peru took key roles in content development, facilitation, translation, and overall coordination of the event. After the orientation, the Global Partner representatives remained in the Bay Area for an extra week of summit meetings and collaboration with the MESA US staff.

At the end of the week, the stewards departed for their placements on MESA host farms across the country. MESA has several new as well as long-term hosts this year, representing a cross-section of sustainable ag innovations and leadership.


To see photographs from the 2008 Orientation, visit https://mesaprogram.orggalleries/orientation08/MESA-photos.

There is a separate gallery of John Jeavon’s visit during orientation at https://mesaprogram.orggalleries/orientation08/john-jeavons


The 2008 program seasons promises to be full of new opportunities, challenges, and learning as MESA continues facilitating the building of bridges between rural communities and sustainable ag advocates worldwide. For additional information on all the MESA program offerings: www.mesaprogram.org.