Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education

As We Are

Many years ago, well before I could comprehend what I was looking at, the forests around me seemed ageless. I could superimpose dinosaurs roaming amongst the trees I couldn’t yet identify. I could feel the pull of an ancient world. These small tracts of land I walked through seemed like primeval relics of a world unchanged since the beginning of time – but you don’t know what you don’t know, until you do.

The full burden of knowledge can crush an unsuspecting student of life. The weight of truth can be unbearable – leaving the cowardly to cower in the corner, oblivious to the mirage we call reality. I was exposed little by little, slowly inoculated with the full breadth of the ecological damage we face.

My childhood was an urban existence. The street trees and derelict lots were my Yellowstone. Pigeons and rats were my wildlife. When I moved to the countryside an acre of trees felt unending. I fell in love with the idea of wilderness instantly. Like a Disney story, it was love at first sight. Only the sight, the love, was for something completely different than what I first thought. Now I look at those same tracts of land, those small chunks of wild surrounded by civilization and I see it as it is:  a sad imposter to the wild spaces that once were, but also a glimmer of hope for the entire world. 

This slow composting of facts and figures, direct observations, and life lessons have formed a deep humus layer of wisdom, learned over and over by countless seekers of truth over eons and human lifetimes. The greatest lesson we learn as observers of wild places is this: We see the world not as it is, but as we are.

That hard truth speaks to the blindness we all have in our own perceptions. I have observed with my own eyes the same tract of land for 20 years. I have watched as a wall of green turned into red maples, box elders and willows. I have seen marks in the soil transform into fox tracks and deer hooves. I have witnessed lichen spread centimeter by centimeter. I have studied with wonder as the girth of a small spindly sycamore sapling grew to an 8 inch diameter.

And through my observation and growing awareness, I have come to recognize the turning of the seasons by a smell on the wind. I have seen the invisible connections become visible. I have begun to understand the connection to space and time: the fertile soil built of limestone bedrock, which once was the bottom of a shallow tropical sea. I have identified the anachronisms in our forest – a lesson born of injury, like so many of life’s deepest lessons. Just as the Mastodon discovered the sharpness of the honey locust, I too, became aware of her power as blood spilled from my own pricked finger.

Lately I have begun to hear the forest, not in words or visions, or even a way I can describe, but a symphony of all I have seen and witnessed. I can hear faint whispers of what the earth is communicating. And with all I have seen, and can see today, it is the ghosts of what once was that haunts me the most. The layers of connections that have been severed are unfathomably complex, like a great spider web that connects all things to all other things. 

What Was Lost

The crushing grief that comes with being haunted can either paralyze you into inaction or drive you to dig deeper: to listen harder, to pay attention to the minutiae. It has empowered me to listen to the land in new ways, to search for the missing pieces and become what was lost – the hands and claws, the hooves and paws that once roamed our forests in abundance.

We are facing multiple existential crises all at once: climate change, biodiversity loss and habitat destruction. The mere thought of things to come is enough to paralyze the most mentally sound. What can one human being do alone? What chance do we have of making a difference?

Then I remember this obscure fact: the small actions of millions of leaf cutter ants working in unison can cause disturbances in tropical forests, the size and scope of which only forest elephants can achieve. Small actions, one on top of another, like stacking bricks to build a wall, can become the foundation for another future we know is possible.

Fulcrum Points

We often run headfirst into tomorrow, ignorant to the hard won lessons of our ancestors: the taste of fertile soils, the feel of your heart beating out of your chest as you run towards your wounded prey, the sound of chanting and dancing in a language born out of the landscape itself, the faith that every action is pulling upon that great web to which all other actions are connected.

I am reminded that small doesn’t mean insignificant. It just means our actions must be more precise. We must find our fulcrum points where our efforts make the most difference, where the culmination of your existence regenerates the landscape in which you reside. Being part of a place is not just blood or historical rights. It is a state of being – one where the ego is composted to feed the ecological systems we rely on for our very existence. 

Consider starting small. Find a spot you can go everyday and sit. No agenda, no journals, no cellphone apps required – just sit and observe quietly. The power of this exercise is not in what you will see but what you will ask: “What is that? Who is singing that beautiful song? Where is the wind coming from? Why does the snow stay in this spot for longer? How does the squirrel climb so fast?

The power in questions is that they lead to more questions – and deeper observations. Until one day the invisible, the connections between the pieces, are as visible as the oak you rest your back on as you sit and watch the seasons change.

Another simple interaction is collecting refuse left in our wild spaces. Often a piece of litter can pull you out of a daydream. Like a text message it rips you away from a state of BEING into a state of thinking, planning, complaining. Simply by picking up trash, we can create a more beautiful world, where our minds can roam with the wild creatures around us.

So go forth into the cracks and crevices – leave the paths for the visitors. Wild creatures use the brambles for protection, they listen to the bird songs to warn them of danger and they dart quickly past the pavement – past the houses and manicured landscapes – into the unkempt. They listen to their gut and instinct as much as their senses. For in wild spaces the ego is destroyed. Slowly but surely, you will remember that you too are a part of the ecosystem – and in that, we come back home.


Wilson Alvarez - Woodland Steward
Wilson Alvarez, Woodland Steward at the Horn Farm Center

About the Author – Wilson Alvarez

Wilson Alvarez is a certified permaculture designer, inventor, gardener, skilled tracker, bowyer, nature-awareness instructor, and writer from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

For the past fourteen years, he has taught classes and workshops on bio-intensive agriculture, regenerative technology, foraging, hunting, trapping, tracking, and wilderness survival. Wilson has studied through the Wilderness Awareness School via the Kamana program, and he received his Permaculture Design Certificate via Susquehanna Permaculture. Wilson currently serves as the Woodland Steward at the Horn Farm Center in York, PA where he is implementing his research on biomimicry through the Reintegration Project. Learn more about Wilson’s work.

Horn Farm Happenings – December 18, 2020

Only a Few Spots Left! Register for the 2021 Beekeeper Training Program

Serious about bees? Learn how to become a trained beekeeper at the Horn Farm Center next year! Program participants learn under the supervision of beekeeper, Mark Gingrich of Gingrich Apiaries. Over the course of the two year program, participants will work side by side with Mark and other program participants to learn all aspects of keeping bees. At the end of year one, each participant will have the option of receiving a bee colony to be moved to their home property. During the second year, participants will benefit from repetition of some aspects of the program, learn more advanced techniques and troubleshooting while managing their own hive at home.

Click here to register and discover what the buzz is all about! Registration Deadline: January 15, 2021

Want to make a difference? Become a skilled steward of the land.

Learn to transform degraded landscapes into healthy, biodiverse, productive habitats through ecological learning and practical hands-on training. Join us for the 2021 Land Steward Training Program at the Horn Farm Center.

Built on a 4-day core curriculum of foundational ecological education, the Land Steward Training program offers 16 weeks of intensive training focused on skill-building for practical application in the burgeoning fields of regenerative agriculture and restorative earth work. Students are invited to build skills in their area of focus with 3 practicum tracks: Regenerative Farmer, Woodlands Steward, or Whole Landscapes, which includes both the Regenerative Farmer and Woodlands Steward practicums.

Click here to learn more about the Horn Farm Center’s new Land Steward Training Program.

In this time of great uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope—that together we can do extraordinary things!

The Horn Farm Center is supported by a community of dedicated volunteers, partner farmers, CSA members, community gardeners, program participants, local businesses, and long-time supporters. Here are some of the ways that you are making an impact:

  • In 2019-2020, we trained 7 new land stewards through the Horn Farm Center’s signature Regenerative Farmer Training Program.
  • In 2019, our educators provided approximately 650 class participants with immersive educational experiences on the farm!
  • The Horn Farm CSA continues to feed an average of 40 families each year and partners with 5 local farmers – making the Horn Farm farm stand a community hub for nutritious food!
  • As of this year, all of our farmers have transitioned to employ only organic and regenerative farming practices on the 186 acres of the Horn Farm.

Click here to learn more about how YOU have made an incredible impact with the Horn Farm!


Horn Farm Center is Now on YouTube!  Click here to Subscribe


In the face of this year’s challenges, we have discovered that we are much more resilient than we knew we once were. We are very excited about the future of the Horn Farm Center and hope that you are too. As a member of our community, your participation is vital. Together we can make a difference and transform the way we feed our communities and steward our land for generations to come.

If you are in a position to support the Horn Farm Center this year, please consider making a financial contribution either by check or online: visit our website to donate at hornfarmcenter.org/donate or become a patron of the Horn Farm at patreon.com/hornfarm


NOTICE: Due to the rising concern with COVID-19 in York County and Governor Wolf’s state-wide mandates, the Horn Farm Center is temporarily closed to all visitors until further notice. We anticipate being able to resume modified business hours sometime next year and we are currently accepting registrations for outdoor classes and workshops scheduled for 2021.

Please contact info@hornfarmcenter.org or call 717-757-6441 for questions or more information. 

Upcoming Events:

January 20, 2021-October 9, 2021: Beekeeper Training Program (Registration Now Open)
March 2021: Land Steward Training Program (Application Deadline: January 31, 2021)

See you at the farm next year!

Horn Farm Center’s Healthy & Safety Policy:

Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.

Horn Farm Happenings – December 11, 2020

Making a List & Checking It Twice – Other Ways to Give to the Horn Farm

Are you looking for a creative way to support the Horn Farm Center this year? Consider giving an in-kind gift to the farm! In-kind donations of physical goods are tax-deductible. We have a long list of tool and equipment needs that will help us improve our ability to grow healthy food, restore our natural ecosystems and teach others to do the same.

Take a look at our “Holiday Wish List!”

  • Garden & Farm Tools (rakes, shovels, and cultivators)
  • Hand Tools (hammers, screwdrivers, etc.)
  • Mechanical Tools (wrenches, ratchets, etc.)
  • Woodworking Tools & Equipment
  • Garden Carts & Wheelbarrows
  • Farm Equipment & Landscaping Equipment
  • Farm Vehicles including a pick-up truck and a farm utility vehicle

Do you have used tools and equipment that you would like to donate to the Horn Farm Center? Contact us at info@hornfarmcenter.org or give us a call at 717-757-6441.


In this time of great uncertainty, there’s a fundamental truth that gives us hope—that together we can do extraordinary things!

The Horn Farm Center is supported by a community of dedicated volunteers, partner farmers, CSA members, community gardeners, program participants, local businesses, and long-time supporters. Here are some of the ways that you are making an impact:

  • In 2019-2020, we trained 7 new land stewards through the Horn Farm Center’s signature Regenerative Farmer Training Program.
  • In 2019, our educators provided approximately 650 class participants with immersive educational experiences on the farm!
  • The Horn Farm CSA continues to feed an average of 40 families each year and partners with 5 local farmers – making the Horn Farm farm stand a community hub for nutritious food!
  • As of this year, all of our farmers have transitioned to employ only organic and regenerative farming practices on the 186 acres of the Horn Farm.

Click here to learn more about how YOU have made an incredible impact with the Horn Farm!


Horn Farm Center is Now on YouTube!  Click here to Subscribe


In the face of this year’s challenges, we have discovered that we are much more resilient than we knew we once were. We are very excited about the future of the Horn Farm Center and hope that you are too. As a member of our community, your participation is vital. Together we can make a difference and transform the way we feed our communities and steward our land for generations to come.

If you are in a position to support the Horn Farm Center this year, please consider making a financial contribution either by check or online: visit our website to donate at hornfarmcenter.org/donate or become a patron of the Horn Farm at patreon.com/hornfarm


NOTICE: Due to the rising concern with COVID-19 in York County and Governor Wolf’s state-wide mandates, the Horn Farm Center is temporarily closed to all visitors until further notice. We anticipate being able to resume modified business hours sometime next year and we are currently accepting registrations for outdoor classes and workshops scheduled for 2021.

Please contact info@hornfarmcenter.org or call 717-757-6441 for questions or more information. 

Upcoming Events:

January 20, 2021-October 9, 2021: Beekeeper Training Program (Registration Now Open)
March 2021: Land Steward Training Program (Application Deadline: January 31, 2021)

See you at the farm next year!

Horn Farm Center’s Healthy & Safety Policy:

Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.