A note from a farmer

I recently received the following email from my CSA farmer, Sarahlee Lawrence, who was attending the Slow Food international conference in Italy. It was such a beautiful email filled with fascinating information, I asked her if I could share it on the blog, and she graciously agreed!

Dear Friends of Rainshadow,

Tall and I have been at an incredible event in Italy called Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto.  This is an international conference of Slow Food with 2000 farmers from 120 countries plus many chefs, educators, and food activists.  We were delegates for the United States and our work was to share with others from around the world to find our common ground, but to also share in similar troubles and solutions.  For more information please visit: http://www.slowfood.com/ Please check out some pictures on the Rainshadow Organics Facebook page.

Copyright: Sarahlee Lawrence

We are now on a small diverse farm in the foothills of the Italian Alps with a farmer who visited our farm three years ago.  Today Tall put new shoes on one of their horses, and I weeded, spread compost, harvested for CSA, and planted garlic.  Its all very familiar.  I now find myself reflecting on the past week at the conference…

To get a feel for it, you have to imagine the biggest farmer’s market in four olympic stadiums with thousands of people selling and tasting all kinds of meats, and oils, and spices, and breads, and nuts, and fruits, and liquors, and cheeses, and salts, and candies, and gelatos, and coffees, and fish, and vegetables….  People from every continent, and so many countries, the features in their faces so true to their places.  Its hot and its loud and it tastes good.

At the same time there are talks going on in big conference halls… translated into many languages, everyone wearing headphones.  The issues are many…  food security, seed saving, GMO, food waste, networking, soil degredation
, small farmer support, urban farming, land grabbing, global empowerment of rural populations and youth education around local food.  People like Carlo Patrini, the founder of Slow Food, spoke with Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva as well as the U.N. Ambasador of Agriculture.  The United Nations has decided that 2014 will be the international year of family agriculture…  to officially assess its role in feeding the growing world.  Genetic modification continues to be a horror in places like India, where 270,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide due to debt to Monsanto. Vandana Shiva responds with Gardens of Hope for widows and orphans.  On a lighter note, in Australia, the government supports the Kitchen Garden Foundation to bring school garden education to 10% of the public schools in the country.

Slow Food stands for the good, clean, fair, food for all: foods that change the world.  As we approach the brink of life as we know it on this earth, Carlo Patrini says that it will be the old people, the women, the indiginous, and the farmers, who will show us the way back.  Tall and I reflect on how we help you all in Central Oregon, with our commitment to farming and the stewardship of our land.

We continue to be commited to heriloom and heritage varieties of vegetables and animals.  We save our seeds and breed our own.  We tend to our bees and our native desert habitat as an important element of our farm.  We continue to feed 75 families and are shooting for 100 next year.  We have launched our first year-round, full-diet  CSA  where 10 brave families have committed to eating local food through the winter, including meats, fresh flour, winter greens from the greenhouse as well as stored roots from the cellar.  We support COIC and the Central Oregon Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign and Locavore in the building of a food hub where we, and our fellow farmers, can reach more people with good, local, organic, foods.  We are incredibly  inspired and brainstorming about how to better manage our farm and our relationship with all of you.

As we talked to farmers from around the world, the same joys, needs, and struggles resound.  No matter if you are from Venezuela or India or Australia or Italy, proccessed foods push for the plate through unrelenting media campaigns and the loss of food culture.  Fewer and fewer people know how to cook or have time to.  No one knows what is seasonal or how to put food by for winter.  Every farmer wants families to commit to the farm, to try to eat locally and seasonally.  I want all of you who commit to Rainshadow to know that your willingness to take the adventure, with your kids, is saving the world one bite at a time.  You are my rocket  fuel to become a better farmer and to provide more diverse and better food for our community every day of the year.

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7 thoughts on “A note from a farmer

  1. Wow. That sounds like an absolutely incredible event in Italy. An inspiration to be around such an enormous crowd from all walks of life, all wanting the same thing- nutritious slow food security. Thank you for sharing this letter. It has inspired me!

      • It has made me think about contacting some local schools when I get back from Texas to see about setting up community gardens at school. I think it’s incredible the initiative that Australia is taking!

        • @regrowroots: I want to do something like there here, as well, but since I work in the schools, I already know what they’re going to say. NOOOOOOOOOO. I’ve already tried to get a community activity going there, but was denied permission because they don’t want to spend any time or resources on non-academic activities, even those outside of school hours. I totally get that – the budget in our district is super, super bad. But…if there are volunteers willing to do this stuff for free and make the school and community better…I just don’t get why they don’t see that as something we should do.

          • A great note from your local CSA farmer. As for gardens in schools it IS being done here in the northwest and not just in big cities. It’s always worth trying. Sometimes it means fundraising to see it happen and making sure there are volunteers to keep it going. Sometimes it means not giving up when you first get a no. To keep trying and not give up is what it may take to see more of this happening.

            • @GreenWoman: Well, I can’t argue with that! LOL. Persistence is absolutely necessary. I’m trying to figure out a way to fit it into my schedule, if it were approved, or to find others who might be interested. We can’t give up, right? :)

  2. I agree that persistence and courage are necessary, and with those elements you WILL succeed. Start by visualizing it and don’t worry how it is going to happen. Picture yourself in a big garden, lush and huge, full of tons of vegetables and fruit, with lots of students and teachers all smiling and volunteering their time. After you can see it, be grateful for it because it’s there, it’s real, it’s going to happen. Then you should start connecting with other people interested. Talk to teachers, parents, and students to see what they think. YOu will find lots of people who want to help, I know you will. Then you can share ideas and figure out a plan. It takes very little money and I know you will find lots of places who would LOVE to donate to your project. You will find supplies and seeds for free, money is not necessary. Express to many people in the school district that a garden is educational. Students will learn science, history, quantum physics (because everything has energy and infinite power which you will see when you start collecting seeds, TONS of seeds from ONE plant), math, and so much more.

    You can do it.

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