Non-Profit Focusing on Self-Reliance Turns to YouTube

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Many superb community-focused non-profits have stepped up their efforts during the coronavirus crises to provide neighbors with much-needed relief and comfort. But what does a non-profit that specializes in helping small-scale farmers by using forgotten American farming tools and improving the use and handling of oxen do during a quarantine? Turn to YouTube. 

Tillers International teaches classes and hosts clinics in the U.S. and in several developing countries such as Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and Uganda. They’ve had to cancel all of their classes globally, but that has given them the opportunity to start putting some of their anachronistic know-how on video.  

“Most of the skills we teach are based on knowledge and tech before the days of electricity,” said Lem Montero of Tillers International. “It’s all from the time when everyone was off-grid because there was no grid.” 

Ironically, the classes they’ve had to cancel teach the types of skills people are extremely interested right now as many entertain thoughts of fleeing cities to lead simpler, safer, and more peaceful lives in the woods.  

Canceled classes include Timber Framing, Blacksmithing, Woodworking, learning about local medicinal herbs and plants, Tool Sharpening, Farming with Draft Animals, and other extremely useful skills for anyone fantasizing about living off the land. 

“Internationally, our claimtofame is helping small-scale farmers improve how they work with oxen,” began Montero, “so we’ve started by making videos about oxen. For most people, the videos may be fun and interesting, but we’re hoping to translate a few to use with the farmers we work within other countries.” 

The first round of videos features Tillers International instructors, who are quarantined on different farms, discussing different methods and tools used for working with oxen. They’re short, light-hearted, and full of knowledge that used to be common among early American farmers and pioneers 

“Our international efforts focus on long-term food security concerns so we completely understand the need to support local non-profits that provide immediate short-term results for our community,” said Montero. “We’re hoping to provide some fun videos in the meantime and use them to still reach out to some of the people with work with here and abroad.” 

Tillers International is looking for ideas for upcoming videos. They’re inviting people—especially teachers—to look through their class catalog and recommend skill sets or topics to be turned into videos. Email your suggestions and learn more about Tillers International by watching their YouTube channel.

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