What We Do

programs that contribute to MESA's mission of connecting a global grassroots network, collaborating with food and farming leaders, and cultivating community food systems.

Experiential Exchange

Our flagship program, Sustainable Agriculture & Global Exchange (SAGE) offers a rare opportunity for beginning and established farmers from different cultures to spur innovation, champion agricultural heritage, and transform our global food system. Awarded U.S. Department of State training and cultural exchange program designation in 1996,  MESA sponsors training visas for eligible beginning international farm Stewards. MESA and our global partners facilitate prerequisite online courses and carefully screen Steward candidates, matching them with U.S. host mentor farms and agricultural organizations for up to 12 months of on-site training and cultural immersion.

MESA’s global partners and alumni also offer reciprocal training opportunities for U.S. and international visitors and trainees. Training opportunities between the US and South Asia, Africa, and Latin America are currently available. Please email or call MESA if you would like us to connect you with a partner for more information!

From 2020-2023, MESA facilitated the Agroecology Food and Farming Pathways (AFFP) program for U.S. residents, featuring collaboration with three esteemed California partner organizations. This USDA-supported program was specifically designed for socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers.

Online Learning

From 2014-2019, in collaboration with mission-aligned partners and generous funders, MESA’s award-winning Farm-Centered Learning Network offered a first-of-its-kind online learning platform for social change. Beginning in 2020, MESA’s two USDA program grants enabled us to redesign the courses, onboard new partners, and continue to facilitate instructor-led courses, such as our popular Training in Applied Agroecology Program. A version of TAAP is currently offered via WWOOF-USA’s Future Farmer Program. Most courses are designed to complement hands-on farm training and advance small farm resilience. For farmers, students, educators, thinkers and doers, our facilitated courses are designed to provide technical and theoretical knowledge, embedded within a supportive community of fellow learners, to confront an increasingly globalized food system and pivot toward a more just, agroecological food system.

*2024 update: In addition to the GAPP pilot program launching in April, 2024, MESA will offer new agroecology courses in September. If you are interested in taking a course, please join our mailing list to receive notifications about the next open course date! 

Sustainable Projects Recognizing Innovative Growers (SPRIG)

Each year MESA allocates mini-grants – aka SPRIGs – for active program participants and program alumni to develop on-farm projects that increase agroecological practices and/or builds resilience for smallholder farmers and their communities. U.S. Host mentor farms and graduates of MESA’s recent Bay Area program (BAFT) may apply for competitive matching funds (typically ranging from $500-$1500) to develop and support their SPRIG project. International Steward alumni are also eligible to apply for project funds in their home communities. Read more about on-farm projects here.

Conferences

MESA staff, Stewards, and global guests have also presented keynotes, panels, and workshops at world-renowned conferences including Ecofarm, Women’s Food and Agriculture Network, Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, Soil Not Oil, Northeast Organic Farmers Association, Full Circle Fund, and the National Heirloom Exposition.

To stay informed on current and upcoming program offerings, join our mailing list!