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, MESA’s International Exchange 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 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 in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Haiti, Ecuador and Peru are currently available. Please email or call MESA if you would like us to connect you with a partner for more information!

MESA’s newest Agroecology Food and Farming Pathways (AFFP) program is open for U.S. residents, and proudly features the collaboration of three esteemed California partner organizations. This USDA-supported program is specifically designed for socially disadvantaged beginning farmers and ranchers who live in the U.S. The AFFP just getting underway and is set to launch in September 2020. To read more about the AFFP and submit an inquiry form, click here.

In 2016, MESA partnered with the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) to host their first online organic seed production course and launch the Seed Internship program. OSA is now preparing to host the updated course on its own platform in 2021. Check OSA’s website here for seed internship and course updates!

Online Learning

Collaborating with mission-aligned partners and generous funders over the years, MESA’s award-winning Farm-Centered Learning Network is an online learning platform for social change. MESA periodically offers instructor-led courses, such as our popular Certificate in Applied Agroecology course, 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.

*2020 update: MESA is currently reviewing new platforms to further develop and host our course offerings. If you are interested in taking a course, please joining our mailing list to receive notifications about the next open course date! If you would like to take the Organic Seed Production course, please contact our allies at the Organic Seed Alliance for information on their next 2021 course.

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.

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