I’ve been writing about the travels of our fruit buyer Dan a great deal lately. There are two reasons – first is that Dan is very active in seeking out great farmers to work with, and second is that he is a great punk-rock storyteller. We sent him to the 27th annual Ecological Farming Conference near Monterey. It started with an opening session on farm power and the world focus.
Dan: “That was at 8 am. I’m thinking it was about the same time I was getting a speeding ticket heading west from Porterville on 198. Eight hours of driving mixed with an amazing tour of Julio Cruz’s navel orange orchard got us to the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove just in time to miss both speakers and to find out that they had not registered us for the next three days! After some confusion, we sorted out the paperwork and met up with Torrey from Gabriel Farms, who is as amazing as the Asian pears and persimmons he grows on his organic farm in Sebastopol – not to mention that he put us up in his hotel. We spoke with Torrey about his farm and the benefits of organic farming. We talked all night about biofuels, small farms, GMOs, and how big Ag companies want to be “organic.”
8:30 am was an early start after the long drive the day before. We sat in on a talk about public/private ownership of organic farms. Some folks from the National Organic Standards Board and the USDA were there, and from the sound of things, people seemed pretty disappointed at their current role in the organic movement. Yeah man, there was lots and lots of regulatory and policy talk. You know how much I love that stuff. . . I wanted to die. 10:30 and the clock couldn’t have taken any more of its sweet time! I took a seat in the back of a large building labeled “Chapel” for the “Bio-fuels Through the Eyes of Agricultural Sustainability” forum. They talked about the problems of distribution. Lots of talk about depleting the earth’s resources. Made me think about how Groundhog Day is coming up and how that little bugger should stay inside and watch “An inconvenient truth.” It was good times. I liked the 2 o’clock session about running an organic business: a lot of people talking about how the original intent of organic – getting back to the land and being sustainable – is being lost as large businesses come into the market. My head was jammed with information, and I was torn by the heartfelt culture that comes from a small farm-type mentality and the trend that is organic that many big-super-companies want to use now for marketing. (Sigh). I did what I knew would make me feel better about it all: I headed back to the hotel, ate some snacks, and watched a documentary on the Sex Pistols. I love that band! Oi!”
That’s our Dan.
Enjoy and be fruitful! – Chris Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org