Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: USDA Releases Report and Compass

A Practical Guide to Oral History (UNC Southern Oral History Program)

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Southern Foodways Alliance

StoryCorps: Every voice matters

Swan Island’s Memory Project

 
Sildenafil
2012
Linguists remind us that storytelling is as old as our ability to produce successive sounds to convey meaning — as if our hominid brains could remember a time when our ancestors first sat around a fire describing how they had gotten that mastodon to run into a cleverly disguised pit just prior to dinner.  Actually I am making this up; I don’t know anything about the history of linguists, price
but that’s not the point of this story.

Most of us spent whatever time we had in school learning how “write, rx ” not learning how to tell a story. I know I never had any teacher or professor teach me how to write a story. I was taught how to write a research paper, how to write an essay, how to construct paragraphs with lead-in theme sentences, and other useful bits and pieces. But not how to tell a story. I suppose if you are in a creative writing program or journalism school, you learn something about how to tell a good story, but not the rest of us.

As I reflect on the cultural DNA of the Island Institute, I am reminded of how important storytelling has always been to us. Highly improbably, we launched the organization three decades ago with a storytelling publication, Island Journal, which we risked almost two-thirds of the first year’s budget to produce. Kind of an all or nothing strategy that I would not recommend to any other start-up nonprofit.

When we started the organization, we recognized that island communities were different than mainland communities; that islanders were intimately familiar with the notion of cycles — seasonal, sidereal, and tidal; that islanders instinctively appreciated the interrelated nature of island life; and that isolation reinforces both creativity and idiosyncrasy. We also knew these were pretty abstract ideas that were difficult to describe  except through stories of real people whose lives allowed others to see important truths in their lives.

I had come to appreciate storytelling out of sheer desperation. Four years out of college with nothing to show for myself except several seasonal rounds of pulpwood-cutting, blueberry-raking and clam-digging, I had gone back to get a forestry degree to be able to work in the north Maine woods –actually the North Maine Woods – which I imagined to be peopled by the descendants of characters that Henry David Thoreau had described the previous century.

As a district forester for a timber company in Greenville, Maine, however, the primary instruction that the district manager provided each Monday at 6:00 a.m. when we met in the small office trailer was that I should be headed north out of town by 7:00, and if I were back before noon on Friday, there’d better be a damn good reason for it. Otherwise, I was to chase French Canadian skidder crews through the woods to give them thoughtful tree-cutting prescriptions, which they would pretend they did not understand.  Then Friday morning, after the French Canadians had hightailed themselves back across the woods roads into Quebec, I headed back into town over a hundred miles of rutted dirt roads.

One of the first expressions I heard back in town described someone with “a face like ten miles of bad road.” After just a few weeks on the job, I had a deep appreciation of what this meant: it meant you wanted to punch his lights out. I was a little bit out of my league in that department, since boxing had faded in the schools I had attended around the time of Teddy Roosevelt. Instead, I began to long for the salty tongue of the Maine coast where the language was sometimes violent, but the culture was usually benign, rather than the other way around.

So after a year in the woods north of Greenville, I knew I was a goner. Sixty thousand dollars of a graduate school education down the two-holer out back. I had no job; no prospects; no plan. Hard realities to convey to earnest folks back at home who just wanted a story for their eldest son—any story, so long as it was a narrative they could tell themselves and their friends. To the extent that I had any thought at all about my future, I thought that after six years of post secondary schooling, I ought to be able to write some kind of story in the English language and be able to sell it somewhere.

Read more at The Working Waterfront
Linguists remind us that storytelling is as old as our ability to produce successive sounds to convey meaning — as if our hominid brains could remember a time when our ancestors first sat around a fire describing how they had gotten that mastodon to run into a cleverly disguised pit just prior to dinner.  Actually I am making this up; I don’t know anything about the history of linguists, medications
but that’s not the point of this story.

Most of us spent whatever time we had in school learning how “write, approved
” not learning how to tell a story. I know I never had any teacher or professor teach me how to write a story. I was taught how to write a research paper, information pills
how to write an essay, how to construct paragraphs with lead-in theme sentences, and other useful bits and pieces. But not how to tell a story. I suppose if you are in a creative writing program or journalism school, you learn something about how to tell a good story, but not the rest of us.

As I reflect on the cultural DNA of the Island Institute, I am reminded of how important storytelling has always been to us. Highly improbably, we launched the organization three decades ago with a storytelling publication, Island Journal, which we risked almost two-thirds of the first year’s budget to produce. Kind of an all or nothing strategy that I would not recommend to any other start-up nonprofit.

When we started the organization, we recognized that island communities were different than mainland communities; that islanders were intimately familiar with the notion of cycles — seasonal, sidereal, and tidal; that islanders instinctively appreciated the interrelated nature of island life; and that isolation reinforces both creativity and idiosyncrasy. We also knew these were pretty abstract ideas that were difficult to describe  except through stories of real people whose lives allowed others to see important truths in their lives.

I had come to appreciate storytelling out of sheer desperation. Four years out of college with nothing to show for myself except several seasonal rounds of pulpwood-cutting, blueberry-raking and clam-digging, I had gone back to get a forestry degree to be able to work in the north Maine woods –actually the North Maine Woods – which I imagined to be peopled by the descendants of characters that Henry David Thoreau had described the previous century.

As a district forester for a timber company in Greenville, Maine, however, the primary instruction that the district manager provided each Monday at 6:00 a.m. when we met in the small office trailer was that I should be headed north out of town by 7:00, and if I were back before noon on Friday, there’d better be a damn good reason for it. Otherwise, I was to chase French Canadian skidder crews through the woods to give them thoughtful tree-cutting prescriptions, which they would pretend they did not understand.  Then Friday morning, after the French Canadians had hightailed themselves back across the woods roads into Quebec, I headed back into town over a hundred miles of rutted dirt roads.

One of the first expressions I heard back in town described someone with “a face like ten miles of bad road.” After just a few weeks on the job, I had a deep appreciation of what this meant: it meant you wanted to punch his lights out. I was a little bit out of my league in that department, since boxing had faded in the schools I had attended around the time of Teddy Roosevelt. Instead, I began to long for the salty tongue of the Maine coast where the language was sometimes violent, but the culture was usually benign, rather than the other way around.

So after a year in the woods north of Greenville, I knew I was a goner. Sixty thousand dollars of a graduate school education down the two-holer out back. I had no job; no prospects; no plan. Hard realities to convey to earnest folks back at home who just wanted a story for their eldest son—any story, so long as it was a narrative they could tell themselves and their friends. To the extent that I had any thought at all about my future, I thought that after six years of post secondary schooling, I ought to be able to write some kind of story in the English language and be able to sell it somewhere.

Read more at The Working Waterfront
Watch Pastor Mike Mather of Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis tell how one of his congregations started asking different questions, troche discovered Adele’s gift and got “a lotta great food” as a bonus.

Then join the conversation and share your comments on these questions: What are you doing to identify the gifts, viagra approved
skills, medications
passion of people in your neighborhood or the people that you serve? What are you doing to connect people based on these gifts?

Watch video at Abundant Community
Watch Pastor Mike Mather of Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis tell how one of his congregations started asking different questions, for sale
discovered Adele’s gift and got “a lotta great food” as a bonus.

Then join the conversation and share your comments on these questions: What are you doing to identify the gifts, skills, passion of people in your neighborhood or the people that you serve? What are you doing to connect people based on these gifts?

Watch video at Abundant Community
On Wednesday, ask
February 29 USDA released its Know Your Farmer, this web
Know Your Food (KYF2) report and introduced the Compass, treat an expansive new resource for the KYF2 initiative.  The initiative was launched in 2009 to enhance coordination and efficiency among the various USDA agencies and programs that work to build local and regional farm and food systems.

Local food is a small but growing sector of American agriculture.  A new study by the Congressional Research Service notes that the “farm-level value of local food sales totaled about $4.8 billion in 2008, or about 1.6 percent of the U.S. market for agricultural products.  An estimated total of 107,000 farms are engaged in local food systems, or about 5 percent of all U.S. farms.”

The KYF2 Compass documents the multitude of benefits to be reaped by local food systems, from job creation to expanded access to fresh foods.  The new, web-based resource was introduced personally by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan via a live web stream, with a heavy emphasis on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media activity.

USDA coverage of the release of the Compass suggests that it will be a tool for everyone from farmers to consumers so they can, in USDA’s words:

  • Learn about USDA resources to develop local and regional food enterprises – from seasonal high tunnels that extend the growing season, to technical assistance for beginning and experienced producers, to support for marketing, processing, distribution and retail infrastructure.
  • See case studies and photos of successful producers and projects from around the country.
  • Navigate the interactive KYF Compass Map, which shows the location and focus of many USDA-supported local and regional food projects.
  • Watch videos documenting how others are building strong local and regional food businesses, expanding local food production on their farms and ranches, and making change in their communities.
  • Join the national conversation.  If you’re a customer, meet a farmer.  If you’re a farmer, talk to your customers.  Continue the conversation in your neighborhood, town and community about what local foods mean to you.

The KYF2 Compass creates a record of the impact of several successful programs from the 2008 Farm Bill that need renewal in 2012, including the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), and Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG).

Read more at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

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