Ashwin worked for fourteen years as an educator and scholar before arriving at Quail Springs. He received his PhD in German Studies from UC Berkeley in 2014, then taught as a professor of German and Media Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges until 2020. While his path to arrive at Quail Springs may be circuitous, he had, since a college course on food justice, continuously been dreaming of a different existence that would bring him closer to the earth. He was also looking for a better place to cultivate his love of the arts, less as it relates to itself and more how it relates to hands in the dirt.
Over the years, Ashwin has spent time on farms and in gardens in California, New York State, North Dakota, India, and Germany. On the organic fruit farm in Southern Germany, he climbed a tall orchard ladder, picked an apple, and upon looking down at the valley sloping into an Alpine lake, exclaimed, “Good.” The simple completeness of that feeling is what led him many years later to Quail Springs, first as a Work-Trader, and now as Co-Executive Director.
Ashwin has also been involved in various non-profit organizations that work to build a more equitable world. In recent years, he taught literature and philosophy in the Cornell Prison Education Program, taught English at Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach Center in Rochester, NY, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Ruben Castro Charities in Moorpark, CA, an organization committed to eliminating generational poverty.
Quail Springs offers Ashwin the opportunity to live a land-based life, to learn from local Indigenous communities, and to continue educational, environmental, and social justice work. Living off-grid in this community also opens up time for creative writing pursuits, music, stargazing, and–his new favorite pastime—goat herding.