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”.
After we pulled the garlic out of the ground, the next step was to bunch it together and hang it to let it cure. Once garlic is pulled, it is not dry like the kind you buy from the grocery store, it’s moist, still usable, but for any kind of storing purposes you must cure it. In order to cure garlic, you need to hang it in a shady spot, where it won’t be rained on and that gets plenty of air flow. Proper cure time is two to three weeks. We had a couple of places to consider, one being a tool storage area in the goat barn, the other being under the front porch of the office. We chose to hang it under the porch because it would get more airflow. Mckenna, Marine, Annie and David were the WWOOF team dedicated to getting this task done.
This task looks easy, but it was definitely a learning curve. Last summer, I hung the garlic by myself up in the attic of my house, near the opening with fresh air hitting it. It worked, but I think it was too hot up there for it. Garlic has to be kept somewhat cool…as cool as it can get in the summer heat.
Since these pictures were taken a few days ago, Mckenna has left the farm. She was needed in Arizona a few days ahead of schedule then she had planned for, so like the wind poof. It wasn’t a sad goodbye, they can be sometimes, but we seem to have a pretty good “swing back through rate”. So, like others before, McKenna will be coming back through at the end of July. She plans on taking David and Marine to her native Kentucky, Louisville, to visit and see the sights. She’s even going to bring them back that crazy girl…but I’m glad somebody is, they have a two month commitment here.
Shiori and Keyohei have also taken leave of us after six weeks of service. However, as old friends leave, new friends arrive, to swing a mattock in the heat of the day, all with smiles on their faces.
Action Packed Father’s Day in Washington County. Here’s the link to our Father’s Day news spot. The clip at 10pm was much better, they gave a shout out to Ozark Alternatives. This must be the 5pm clip.