Just returned yesterday afternoon from a teaching event in Virginia. This was a training for “Agricultural Professionals” in organic vegetable production and marketing. Now I have done a lot of workshops for extension agents and as my father would say “university types” but these Ag professionals were mostly Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Services Agency and others related to the USDA farm bill programs. Most of my audiences are farmers growing vegetables or those Ag professionals who work directly with those growing vegetables. These folks manage money or work with farmers to get federal program money, a carrot and stick approach to helping farmers improve their farming operations.
A very pleasant group but a difficult crowd to figure out how to talk about organic vegetable production from their point of view. I think we were successful but the post training survey will tell the tale. Two observations that always tickle me. The first is if they are “ag professionals” then what do I call myself as their teacher and the one who actually makes his living from agriculture? The second is essentially every vegetable farm in the US has never gotten any of the classic federal farm program payments as they don’t apply to vegetables. Sure they may have gotten some money to help build a pond or something like that but not the kind of monies that most folks associate with the farm bill. So it is hard to relate to what their jobs entail.
The reason for all of this training is just another sign of the changing of the times in agriculture. As we as a nation and as farmers move towards a more sustainable existence then the ways we reward people for doing good things or give them incentive to do so is different than just giving them payments to make sure they can continue to make a living from farming. Green payments based, not on how many bushels of corn you produced (or didn’t) but on how well you manage your soil or forests. As I always say, it is an interesting time to be in agriculture, even if I am not a “professional”.
OK, on a practical note, you may remember three months ago I was agonizing over whether to get the turkeys or not, mostly because they would be arriving too late for us the get them up to size before we had planned to leave the farm for an extended period. Since then I have talked to many of you at market about the decision. I realized, mostly due to a recent increase in inquiries, that I have never officially announced that we will not have any turkeys this year. I know, it is sad and will change folks Thanksgiving plans some but it just was not to be this year. We are planting (and it all looks great) all kinds of vegetables to go with the Thanksgiving meal so you will at least have a little Peregrine Farm on the plate if not the table centerpiece.
Picture of the Week
Thanksgiving fare, collards, Brussels sprouts, celery, lacinato kale