Who’s that girl?
Kateen Fitzgerald is the founder and director of the Dirt Rich School. You will find her playing in the garden, and sharing her experience in modern homesteading, holistic animal wifery, regenerative food systems and working with the weeds. When not outdoors, she is in the classroom teaching Permaculture design & how to be a lazy farmer.
Kateen Fitzgerald, Chief, The Lazy Farmer & Garden Guru
Check out a pod cast with Greg Peterson and Kateen Fitzgerald:
Here is what people are saying about her skills as a teacher and mentor.
I met Kateen Fitzgerald eight years ago through our mutual love of farming. We have collaborated and supported one
another over the years on creating business plans and designing her farm. I have ran a small market garden, worked on
and managed several farms, and pursued a M.A. in Environment and Community with Kateen’s support and
encouragement. Kateen has stayed committed to her dream of teaching others how to grow food, homestead, and create
community while supporting and managing a small farm and raising her three children on her own. Her passion for her
work is obvious in her determination and devotion to creating a place where others can learn how to live more sustainably.
I highly recommend her as a mentor and educator for the Cultivating Success program. She has the unique ability as a
teacher to balance her skill as a leader with her skill of compassion. She sees the innate gifts in others and creates a place
where they can feel safe to pursue their passions.
Farmer and Permaculture Designer
I first met Kateen as a WWOOF intern on Compass Rose Farms. My background was far from farm ready—I grew up in the suburbs and had spent the past year working in retail; but Kateen welcomed me, and my novice skillset, with open arms. In a situation that could have been wildly uncomfortable or even a bit scary, I immediately felt safe and that I was in the presence of someone who genuinely knew and loved what she was doing.
From sheep and chickens to herbs and vegetables, Kateen shared valuable knowledge and hands-on experience. I learned comprehensive histories, best practices, and key facts that I honestly cannot compare to any other experience in my life.
The entire time I was on Compass Rose Farms I witnessed tireless dedication from Kateen. She created and continues to implement an educational program that fosters the success of sustainable farming practices and introduces a world embedded with these techniques to as many people as she can.
I never once felt like “free labor,” in fact I felt so unbelievably fortunate to be spending time with Kateen, learning how to manage a farm and empower myself.
I cannot think of a more valuable mentor for participants to receive hands-on experience in all aspects of sustainable farming—from production to marketing and beyond. Even today, I dream about going back to Compass Rose Farms. Kateen is an absolute fountain of well-researched knowledge and I highly recommend her for the Cultivating Success Program.
Ally Power | Marketing & Editorial Assistant
I met Kateen Fitzgerald in March of 2013 when I started WWOOFing on Compass Rose Farms. When I arrived, I was a clean-cut city kid with very little knowledge of how to garden or raise animals; all of that quickly changed. I fell in love with the farm and Kateen’s holistic methods of farming and teaching.
I am now a permanent farming partner of Kateen’s at Compass Rose Farms. Working with Kateen continues to be the most enlightening experience of my life and I cannot imagine doing anything else. The knowledge I have gained from Kateen throughout the past year will be with me forever and I am still learning from her every day.
In observing Kateen teaching, I have never seen her fail to empower others with complete and comprehensive information. Kateen is eager to see others succeed and is willing and able to do anything that makes that possible. Kateen’s ability to adapt her lessons and teaching methods to individual’s needs and learning processes is all too rare in our world’s leaders.
In regards to the Cultivating Success mentor and education program, there is no one I would recommend more highly than Kateen. Her dedication to empowering others is a gift to the world. Providing her with a chance to teach even more young farmers would not only benefit those with the privilege of learning from her, but would benefit all the communities those young people are a part of.
I was a client of Kateen Fitzgerald from may 2014 to november 2015. The product: an education in permaculture / biointensive food systems. She was a phenomenal educator for a litany of reasons.
Her availability/openness as an educator is mind-blowing, especially in an industry that is known for people who are recalcitrant, taciturn, and hermetic (i.e. farmers). She will interrupt what she is working on to entertain a student’s questions, and offer copious responses that yield a deeper comprehension than what the questioner was even anticipating. She is an adept delegator but also shows solidarity with students, often working alongside them doing the physical tasks of a given activity, and doing them with a focus and a resolve one wouldn’t expect from a longtime veteran. There are many styles of teaching, but Kateen offers a personal and direct style that puts students at ease and encourages a richer dialogue.
Another quality about Kateen that makes her an excellent educator is her bottomless intellect and curiosity in her field. She has the sharp eye of a seasoned worker, with the conceptual capacities of an academic. Also, unique to a farm, she has an extensive library of texts on a wide variety of disciplines and discourses. An aspect of Kateen’s intelligence that i find amazing is that she is primarily an oral thinker. She thinks at her best when she is having a dialogue with another person who is trying to learn. That’s an incredible skill.
I think that the resounding quality of any great businesswoman is the courage to lead. Kateen has a strong belief in herself as an agent of positive change in the world, and this confidence is infectious. It has always been the x-factor in leadership, and it is no secret that she has the verve to organize and inspire people.
So yes, I was thoroughly pleased and inspired by my tenure as a student at Compass Rose Farms, and my education in permaculture and bio-intensive food systems continues to inform my daily life. I built my first raised garden bed this past week, and i knew what to do and felt empowered to do it myself because of Kateen.
Compass Rose Farms Class of ’14 + ’15
Through my experience with Kateen Fitzgerald I have had the pleasure to be acquainted with her as a fiercely active farm owner, permaculture instructor, and homesteader in the Discovery Bay area of Washington state. She is steadfast with her drive to actively learn as much as she possibly can about permaculture practices involving both animal husbandry and meticulously planned gardens, applying those concepts to the land that she lives on, and departing that knowledge to the numerous interns that have worked on her farm. Kateen shows true integrity in regard to organic permaculture practices, as well as personal creativity in the dynamic management of her verdant and thriving homestead. I personally had the joy of working with Kateen on her farm where each day is a work day, regimented, and extremely intentional. I also taught a class on mycology (the study of the kingdom “fungi”) in an introductory sense on the farm, relating more intimately to fungal/plant interactions and applications of fungi in permaculture practice. Kateen seemed happy for me to give the talk and was well prepared with a very professional teaching space on site at the homestead. Kateen offers a very valuable opportunity for interns at her farm, exchanging classes for labor, making the labor hurdle of a permaculture farm more manageable whilst giving interns the knowledge they require to successfully design permaculture farms of their own and showing them the realities of small scale farm work.