Yesterday our farm participated in a community event that was in essence 'speed dating' between the public and the local farms that offer a CSA (community supported agriculture), which is a partnership between a family/individual and the farm where the farmer is paid up front at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the harvest from that farm.
The membership cost paid by a family at this time of year before the growing season really gets into full swing is used by the farmers as 'seed money' in the true sense of the word plus to give some overall stability and financial planning to the growing season for the purposes of buying seeds, equipment, supplies, maintenance, labor costs, etc. This cost offers a guaranteed portion of the harvest to the member, but it also represents a mutual sharing of the risks associated with all farming that are beyond a farmer's control.
This first-time event sponsored by Slow Food Huron Valley and the brand new Great Lakes CSA Coalition was successful beyond anyone's expectations. More people came than expected thus parking was difficult (it did not help that it 'mudded' that afternoon), plus more farmers signed up than anticipated, including several brand new small farms. All signs of success!
Having never done a 'display' for our farm, we were beautiful but decidedly low-key. However I have ideas for next time to spruce us up a bit, even turning this into a fun project for a dietetic student (with an art background) who is coming to live with us for several weeks this summer.
Nevertheless, people came specifically to sign-up for our Garlic CSA (we had promoted this opportunity in our farm newsletters and our farm's Facebook page), other people who were brand new to us that day also signed up, and we ran out of brochures during the first hour, grossly under-estimating our needs. Again, all signs of success!
Both my husband and I had such a good time during this event meeting loyal customers (now friends), new customers (new friends), and our farmer friends, that we both left the event feeling like we were on a 'high', which I suppose could also be called a sign of success. :)
Which brings me to the catching up bit. I am really trying to clean off my desk of ideas and things that must be done before there is no time to do inside 'paperwork' for at least six months.
As I am sorting through things I have saved 'to do' I am finally coming to a slide show that my good friend Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD (aka Food Sleuth radio interviewer) put together about our farm. Melinda and her husband Dan visited our farm in 2011 to interview us and take these photos (so they are now 2 years old), with the purpose and mission of changing our food system to one that truly provides 'good food and good health for all' (a phrase I use for my email sign-off). Together they hope that the emotionally compelling images (taken by her husband Dan) and the stories of small farmers across the country will help Americans become better citizens (versus consumers), think critically, and take action advocating for food and health policies that truly provide accessible and affordable foods for all that promote health, not disease.
Here is the link to the slide show with Melinda's words on the website for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), an organization whose work and 'action alerts' I follow regularly.
At last, at last. All the comments in Melinda's slide show are accurately stated. Whenever I see my friend Cathy (like I did yesterday) of Frog Holler Organic Farm, I always feel this deep rush of admiration knowing she and her husband started Frog Holler here in Michigan at about the same time we wanted to drop out of our graduate school programs to start a farm in Wisconsin during the 70's. It took us several decades to finally be 'old-new farmers', which I had the pleasure of explaining briefly to a student yesterday doing interviews for one of his university classes about organic farming.
Thus, while I do really like my new idea of having our upcoming student helping us develop a display for future events, we are actually content to be rather 'low-tech' without fancy displays, knowing our success is really represented by our happiness, which we hope showed through to all yesterday, all of our old friends and all of our new friends who are all part of the 'family' in our Dyer Family Organic Farm, at last. :)
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD