Jack Seitz ’05 is a real instance of the interdepartmental targets of the School Farm. This historical past main’s expertise with farming within the School Backyard (earlier than it grew to become the School Farm) helped information his path to a Fulbright fellowship, Grasp’s diploma in Central Eurasian Research, and Doctoral dissertation on agriculture within the Kazakh steppe.
Jack labored within the School Backyard for 2 tutorial years and one summer season of his Dickinson expertise. In true School Farm style, Jack was bribed into his first farming place by a good friend who supplied recent produce after frisbee follow. Jack fondly remembers many antics on the farm, together with a mishap with a professor and a few lifeless rabbits. Maybe most significantly, conversations about meals and agriculture within the Backyard’s beat-up ’78 Chevy Silverado began Jack on a path of deep thought of agricultural follow that has taken him from West Virginia to Kazakhstan.
Instantly after commencement, Jack gained a Fulbright Fellowship to Kazakhstan to analysis the Virgin Lands Marketing campaign, which was a undertaking undertaken within the Fifties by the Soviet Union to plow up “virgin” steppe in Kazakhstan and plant wheat. After his Fulbright, Jack moved to his grandparents’ small farm in York County, PA and began a Licensed Naturally Grown vegetable truck with two different DCF alums.
Nevertheless, Jack was not content material with taking part within the present meals system in Pennsylvania. As an alternative, he needed to advertise meals safety. So, Jack moved to the coalfields of Southern West Virginia to work with a non-profit that helps low-income communities entry produce. Whereas there, he helped set up farmers markets, train youth, and create an indication farm.
Whereas sustaining this busy work schedule in West Virginia, Jack earned acceptance to an M.A. program in Central Eurasian Research at Indiana College. He deferred this system for just a few years to proceed working in West Virginia, however finally moved to Indiana. When not finding out Central Asian historical past, languages, and tradition, Jack volunteered on the Indiana College school backyard. He then enrolled in a PhD program at Iowa State College specializing in agricultural and rural historical past. Jack’s dissertation drew upon his Fulbright analysis, discussing the position of agricultural science, peasant farmers, and agronomists within the Russian Empire’s settler colonization. It additionally connects Kazakhstan to different semi-arid areas, together with the North American plains.
Jack is now an Assistant Professor of Historical past at Tennessee Wesleyan College. His distinctive background within the fields of historical past, agriculture, and politics creates fascinating alternatives for him to discover typically disregarded points like environmental historical past, settler colonialism, erasure of individuals of coloration, and problematic capitalism within the meals system, in his lessons.
Dwelling in East Tennessee, Jack is glad he’s in a position to have an enormous backyard with fruit bushes and blueberry bushes and get up to the view of the Smoky Mountains every single day, however he realizes how difficult studying about place, and residing and proudly owning what is basically stolen land, will be.
Jack recollects the School Backyard because the spark that helped him understand that farming is about extra than simply the fantastic thing about the land; it requires asking troublesome questions on energy constructions and relationships with meals. Within the midst of his pursuit of high-level, systemic change, Jack maintains empathy and respect for the difficulties of farming. He credit this empathy to his time engaged on his personal farm and within the Dickinson School Backyard.
When he’s not being (in his personal phrases) “an ornery critic of our agricultural system,” Jack performs the banjo and enjoys singing round a campfire along with his pals.
The School Farm is proud to be represented by alumni like Jack, who’re working to deal with big-picture points within the meals system. We applaud his wonderful work to this point and are excited to see the place his analysis will take him subsequent!