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By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer

Empower. Share. Educate. Innovate. Develop. Inspire. These six words represent the goals of Tillers International, a nonprofit organization that works to encourage sustainable practices throughout the world. Their home base of Scotts, MI hosts a number of programs, visitors, workshops, and various learning experiences.

On either end of the growing season are their largest events with the Spring Plow Day in April and the annual Harvest Festival in September. 

These public-invited gatherings have been used as opportunities to expose people to the work that Tillers does here in the States as well as around the world. The working farm is a microscopic view of the ideas being promoted in the international partnerships that have been made.

For example, Tillers is working in a community in West Africa to lighten their load and assist in the appreciation of new technologies, making their work easier and more productive. 

The farmers are being introduced to improved animal husbandry practices along with new cultivation methods. Because of this, women are now able to focus on their homes and children are able to attend school, improving their health and lives.

At the Scotts farm, oxen are used to pull the implements that plow, cultivate, plant, and weed, just like the ones introduced in West Africa. Workshops are held to train the farmers in the U.S. who are interested in pursuing these methods and using them to understand the work load in some of these third-world countries.

Other classes and workshops are held at the farm to promote the arts, crafts, and techniques of days gone by. While many today think that these skills are not needed in current society, Tillers and others understand that the comprehension of history comes by experience. 

Natural dyeing, coopering, blacksmithing, woodworking, soapmaking, and cheesemaking are just a few of the topics explored during their full yearlong class schedule.

The farm hosts several activities and other fundraising events through various organizations interested in promoting Tillers missions and ideas. Though this helps, 

Tillers can always use additional funds to help them accomplish their mission statement; “Tillers International preserves, studies, and exchanges, skills and tools that empower communities worldwide to improve livelihoods and agricultural productivity.” 

By financially supporting organizations that encourage agricultural practices, we are helping sustain the educating of the world and helping them raise higher quality animals, more nutritious foods, and better farming methods. What better investment is there than that?

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