This past weekend, Paul, Jonathon and I attended the Southern SAWG conference in Little Rock. I believe, without looking it up, that SAWG stands for Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. The conference lasted Friday and Saturday with Wednesday and Thursday being pre-conference field trip days. Our local food CO-OP Ozark Natural Foods provided us with a scholarship to attend the conference. In exchange, we helped at their table at the trade show, marketing organic chicken and goat feed that they now sell. The conference was very informative, offering many sessions of classes. One in particular that I enjoyed was a class on flowers, taught by Mimo Davis. She was born and raised in New York City, and moved to St. Joseph Missouri and started growing flowers. She had no prior experience in growing anything before. I love stories like hers, because she’s so pumped up to let everyone know that they can do it too. It’s somewhat a leap of faith that few take. Just think about it dear reader. There was a strong Northwest Arkansas farming presence at the conference which was nice to see. Everyone was so excited to see each other, because when you farm, you’re always on your farm FARMING…you rarely get out, and you like it that way. There was also a large youth population at this conference, which was very encouraging. Last year, when Paul and I went to the Arkansas/Oklahoma Horticulture conference, it was all old people. Really old. So to see young twenty-somethings, in their puffy vests and dark rimmed glasses, hipster chic was great. These young farm folk identified with the 99%, they said so in a note that they left in an upstairs lounge. Farm advocates, who put up a petition to “FREE THE DUCKS!” at the Peabody hotel where the conference was held. It was eventually taken down…those rascals! There was one woman who was there, her name was Severine, and she was promoting a documentary film she had made called The Greenhorns. She had organized a “mixer” for young farmers in the hotel across the street. When the hotel realized that more than 40 young farmers were going to attend, they cut off the line. So a mass of young’uns came back to the hotel where the conference was and reassembled, and to tell you the truth, their party was probably a lot more fun…but maybe Severine could tell me otherwise. We also had the chance to meet Alice, from BROOKLYN, who was representing Certified Naturally Grown. She organized a meeting of local farmers in our area who are Certified Naturally Grown, to get together for potlucks throughout the season to see each others farms and see what each other are up too. It was a very informal and quick gathering, but everyone who sat down was more than happy to open up their space. For those who lived far out in the sticks, those closer to Fayetteville were opening up their homes (to strangers more or less…does knowing someone’s name for 10 minutes count as acquaintances?) Alice was very surprised, that kind of hospitality was being offered. I just told her “Welcome to Arkansas” and a few people replied “Yep”.
Great to hear all of you are doing some fun winter trips to inspire a busy sping schedual… whats this fixed camera but no pic’s stuff…were are all those damn pictures… We show-me-staters like to see pic’s of our fellow yeoman’s of the south!
Take care… lots of LOVE and happy winter Jeff and Rachel from the north..(Ava town)
I’m still checkin in on you guys… and we are ExCiTeD about another visit (someday)
Are you all building a greenhouse yet?
We are waiting on our NRCS grant stuff.. but we have high hopes..
our solar greenhouse will have to wait until fall a little to tight on finances now.. looks like another spring of starting seedlings in the kitchen… rachel LOVES that…