Among the farming circle floats around a couple key gatherings throughout the calendar year that scratch our farmer-geek-itch. The Santa Rosa Heirloom Expo, the annual EcoFarm Conference, such are a different kind of big and special. There’s rarely an audience for our farming jibber jabber. Like the benefits of no-till farming in sequestering soil fertility while building a path for diversifying our ecosystems. Or the real struggle in successfully translating a farmer dream into a farmer business where our passion for growing good food meets economic stability. The big and special comes from the fact that all these people from all over the globe are working towards the same vision: A better quality of life for humanity through revolutionizing our food system. Reflecting, I could sum up EcoFarm as a time and place where compassion and care is multiplied.
Among the crush and the couple, I don’t know which encounter I am more excited to share about. The couple, they were so lovely. The crush, well, he was beautiful.
To start off, I will begin with lunch! I met up with Kathy, who farms our beef from Left Coast GrassFed, in front of the dining hall. She was the one who suggested I attend the EcoFarm Conference. The staff at the conference grounds were exceptionally kind and efficient, directing us to each round table big enough to seat 12 people at a time. A woman a bit past my parents’ age was directed to sit next to me and as we settled in, I introduced myself. “Hello! My name is Yesie.” “Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Jeanne.”
“Are you a farmer?” This was a good assumption to make. Most of the people at EcoFarm are farmers. Reckon.
“No, my husband is the farmer.”
“What kind of farming do you do?”
“We own a small dairy farm in Petaluma.”
“Oh, that’s awesome!”
Such our mini introduction ended. Our lunch menu was a choice between veggie or chicken mole. As I readied myself to eat, Kathy pointed to the sour cream on our table and looked up at Jeanne,
And Jeanne looked up, responding merrily, “Yes, I’m Hungarian American and I pushed my husband to make our line of sour cream. We need our sour cream.”
My curiosity peaked.
Soon after her husband sat next to Jeanne.
These two are Mr. and Mrs. Straus. Founders of Straus Family Creamery.
For me, I was in shock the first couple tens of minutes as we continued to eat, meaning I was star-struck for all of lunch. How could they be so normal? So humble? So kind and warm? So…cute?
Jeanne went on describing her husband as a mad scientist, and I could tell. Even while we conversed, he was physically present but not 100% there...I could see the cogs in his mind turning as he invented and readjusted his new amazing dairy good for us lucky Bay Area people to enjoy. Albert is a farm geek and eloquence is not his forte. Yet such genuine care for what Bevy is doing and encouragement exuded from the couple. As we parted after we had our fill, Albert stopped me,
“Yesie. I know it’s in here somewhere.”
Such intent as he flipped, flopped, turned all his pockets out. I was expecting lint to soon appear.
“Ah, here it is.”
He handed me his card, me feeling so apologetic for not even owning a business card.
“I know we go through distributors and such but if you have anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”
“Thank you so much. If you have any suggestions or advice, we are always open and wanting to learn more.”
It was time to go. I wanted to give this father figure a hug.
Sensing my lingering, with such warmth, “Yesie, I’ll give you a hug.”
You can probably feel how happy I was. How cared for I felt by this family.
On another enjoyable thread, to summarize my rendezvous with the EcoFarm crush, he was beautiful, I was awkward, that was that. We met at the info booth for the new organic certification non-profit. He also works for Patagonia Provisions, which is Patagonia’s line of ethical food aimed mostly for backpackers and adventure folks. Although it’s sad that we probably won’t cross paths again unless I decide to bring in buffalo jerky to Bevy, those butterflies were a nice surprise. A reminder that I’m wanting to fall in love, sometime, maybe soon.
All this story telling and sharing my moments is necessary. The biggest reason being that I want you to have a window into the farmer community. We carry a similar philosophy and vision to influence our food system where one day, harmful food has no place on our dinner tables. Where no more farmers are losing pride in their noble occupation. We are diligently working towards this dream but the costs are real, with the promise of pain in each bend of our path.
Yet we are strong, together. The way we survive through harsh realities is by these loving and caring encounters with rewards that are impossible to quantify. The full assurance that people, intelligent, bright, compassionate people, are behind you rooting for those daily victories in our everyday warzones. As a collective, we are doing good together for the masses.
Often times, I say to myself that every person just needs these four things: Food on the table, a roof over head, clothes on back, and a loving community. How full is your life? How are we doing, as the human race, at providing these things for ourselves and for other people?
Do you have food on your table? Say thanks.
Do you have a roof over your head? Say thanks.
Do you have clothes on your back? Say thanks.
Do you have a loving community? Say thanks.
Today, let’s join in with our farmers in their daily wrestling:
What will it take for more people to have what they need?
This is the good food revolution. I assure you, there’s no way to be one toe in. But I promise, this life is one of love, one of sharing, one of community and every moment is worth the good we’re partaking.
Let’s do this! Together, in Jesus’ Name!