Dancing Willow Farms has been exploring ways to support community needs and wants by utilizing our land, buildings, and resources. Through conversations with community members, it has come to our attention that there is a desire to learn skills outside of a traditional learning environment. One such area lifted up was welding, so in the fall of 2020 we hosted our first welding class. The pilot class was focused on providing an intro level course for both adults and teens on the tools, safety guidelines and techniques for MIG and TIG welding. Jason Ball, a regional sales manager for Miller Welding, provided all of the materials and served as the instructor for the 5 hour class. The class was intentionally designed to to be fun and very hands on, so that those participating could decide for themselves if welding is something they would like to pursue either with continued classes at the farm or in a more traditional setting like Washtenaw Community College. By the end of the class, participants created hitch covers and metal flower vases to take home. The class ended with a meal where participants and their families could discuss the days events, explore next steps, and enjoy each-other's company.
After promoting the class on our social media sites, we were flooded with requests to participate in classes moving forward. Within a week we had a list of over 60 people wanting to be on a waiting list. Some are farmers wishing to learn how to weld so they can fix their own equipment. Others were parents wanting to learn a skill with their kids. Some simply thought it looked fun and wanted to see what it's like without having to pay for college credits.
Classes will be on a sliding scale to ensure that social economic status is not a barrier to participation. Those that can't pay will not have to, while those that can will self select their ability to pay. Proceeds from the classes will go to offset supplies and Jason Ball's travel expenses.
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (February 2021)