Thursday, June 21, 2007

Community Development Conference

I attended one day of the Community Development Conference in Appleton, WI yesterday for the Farmers Market Community Kitchen day trip. That conference was the BEST conference I have EVER attended. It certainly was not for the faint of heart and I really should have taken farm brochures with me. There were professionals there from all over the world and everyone was exchanging business cards and networking. If you didn't get hung up on what methodology was used to quantify data collected for this or that study and concentrated on sifting through what was said to get to the point, there was an unbelievable wealth of useable information to be had. I was the only "ordinary" person I could find there. Everybody else was affiliated with some type of governmental entity. I had people talking to me because I was NOT affiliated with any kind of bureaucracy and they wanted my take on this or that. I met a great lady from Saskatchewan who is going to email me info on how Saskatchewan's community kitchen is run, and I met a nice guy from the USDA at the comunity kitchen in Algoma, WI who I spoke with about our Price Direct group and he gave me his card and said to give him a call when we decide what direction we want to move the group in as he gives grant money to microenterprises. I talked with a sharp old codger from Ireland and after talking family history (where my mother's family came from in Ireland and the family name) we talked about cover crops and farming practices. Wow! It was a VERY productive day. I would love to attend the entire conference next year. It is being held in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, I don't think I can in good conscience leave Tom with the kids for a whole week, and I don't have a passport; I understand with the new laws, it is difficult to get a passport and takes a long time.

While there I sat in on a rural leadership seminar that was comprised of three separate presentations. The first was held by two ladies from Louisiana who talked about a leadership module called S.A.L.T. (I missed what it stands for because I was late getting into the talk because of chatting with the lady from Saskatchewan)and they talked about helping develop new rural leaders in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The second presenter talked about identifying new entrepreneurial leaders in times of crisis and peace. She was from the University of Haifa, Israel, and her data was collected in the wake of the second Lebanon war of last year. Her talk was extremely interesting. The last talk was about doing feasibility studies for proposed projects and how to identify and assess needs. It was great. I was fascinated; it's been a long time since I was exposed to this much intellectualism and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy these types of discussion. It was just a great experience altogether and I am SO glad I went.

On another note, the road construction has started by our farm so be very careful if you plan on being out our way. While I was gone, a guy came to the house and told Tom that they were going to need to use dynamite and will be blasting some time around July 9; this guy and his wife wanted to come inside the house and take pictures of everything and I am so glad he said, "No." This is new construction and our new well is 60 feet deep with a 15 gpm refresh rate. The information is on record with various County departments and if my water supply gets screwed up somebody is going to dig me a new well, and the average well depth in this area is + or - 200 feet. Anyway, I think positive. The real problem right now is that I cannot get out to the field to water the garden. I am going to call my dad and see if he can guide me around the farm house so I can get onto the hay road with my water barrels to get to the field. The road sorely needs to be graded and I don't know if I can get the water out there without it spilling.

Talk to you again soon!

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