Ten years ago nobody wanted to be a pastor in Catalonia. Many ranchers were forced to sell their herds because they could not find anyone to herd them. The trend has been reversed and the trade no longer seems so reviled, judging by the growing interest in the School of Pastors of Catalonia. This year 55 applicants have applied, of which 18 have been selected. "I am here by vocation, because I like to live connected to nature and animals," exclaims Yeray Yánez, one of the students who started classes last Monday. theoretical in the town of Montenartró (Pallars Sobirà).
A total of 90 students have passed through the Escuela de Pastores de Catalunya in the last five years. 70% have managed to develop their project in the livestock sector. Most proclaim that being a pastor is a latent vocation that has awakened at a crucial moment in their lives. “I imagine a day of grazing with the bag, with the necessary food to survive in the mountains and without a mobile. Only connected to nature and pending the herd. And if someone wants something from me, let them come see me,” says Yerai, a 35-year-old Canary Islander.
Not all of them will guide their future by herding herds, but by being part of a new generation that has nothing to do with traditional livestock, but rather with agroecology. After receiving the training, they will have to start from scratch, few of them come from peasant families.
Toni Cantón, a 29-year-old from Manresa, wants to undertake a pedagogical project based on the influence of the rural world on education. "There are still children who do not know how milk is obtained."
María Abadías, a 27-year-old from Barcelona, will take advantage of her studies in biology and organic farming to start something ambitious: an organic sheep farm on a family farm, abandoned for a long time in the Vall del Bac, in l'Alta Garrotxa. “My idea is to start with quality sheep for meat and wool and then expand the business with horses, cows, organic beekeeping and rural tourism. It will be my vital project and I want to make a living there”.
Some students have left their jobs to start a new professional path, as discredited as it is uncertain, either as a shepherd or rancher. Among those who have opted for a radical change are Gonzalo, a naval engineer, and Arnau, a social educator.
The School of Shepherds is an initiative of the Rurbans socio-cultural association, which works to revitalize the region through traditional trades. The success achieved in the five years that it has been in operation surprises those responsible, who fear for its continuity. "The Generalitat owes us the last three years, about 55,000 euros, and we don't know how much we will endure," says Vanesa Freixa, coordinator of the project.
The course costs 500 euros. After a month of classes, they carry out four months of internships on a farm, where they will work alongside the owner in exchange for board and lodging. The apprentice's profile is that of a 30-year-old person. 60% come from Barcelona and only 8% from Lleida.
Source: The Country
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