Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bob Waldrop and Someday: A Tri-Cities Food Coop!?

So I attended a very interesting presentation Tuesday night titled, "Re-inventing the Family Farm". I found the flyer at the Greenstone Farm Credit office of all places, which made me a little leery to attend. However, the presentation was by Robert Waldrop, President and General Manager of the Oklahoma Food Coop. The coop is incredibly successful, more so than I would have ever expected.

Mr. Waldrop was hosted by Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), almost an hour away from where I live. I had no idea there was so much great work in progress at SVSU. They are working on everything from vermiculture and hydroponics to alternative energy development. For more information on the projects going on there check out the Green Cardinal (the cardinal is the school mascot) and the last few posts on Bob Waldrop's blog. While you're on Bob's blog scroll down to the post about 20 Things to Do Now that the Election is Over. I found it very interesting and motivating.

So, back to the presentation. Really it was mostly practical advice and tips on how to start and operate a large food coop. I have considered in the past the idea of trying to start a small coop in my area but I decided my efforts would be better spent on producing the food and direct marketing on my own. Although I would love to help out with a big coop, I was really hoping for more information from the producer's standpoint.

The excitement came at the end for me when I spoke with Dr. Christopher Schilling, he is one of the SVSU faculty heading up this initiative and the man doing most of the research I mentioned earlier. I described our situation to him, i.e. that we have 74 acres we are cash crop farming and we are looking for a way to make the land more productive. I also shared that we are starting out with some freezer beef and eggs and that I would be very interested in being a part of any future coop. My interest was welcomed and encouraged.

It was so thrilling to be around a group with so much positive energy towards this subject. It is easy to feel discouraged as we try to get the farm going. The presentation was exactly what I needed to get me looking on the bright side again.

On a side note, I've also been slowly making my way through You Can Farm by Joel Salatin. I was a little disappointed when I read his Salad Bar Beef but You Can Farm is wonderful! I'll post a book review when I'm done. Between the book and the presentation I am feeling ├╝ber motivated.

If you'd like to share your thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

Oops - almost forgot. Today I am thankful for my ability to learn, and the freedom we have in the USA to do what we want with our lives and share information.


Joyce said...

That "20 Things To Do..." article was very good- thanks for pointing us to it. I really feel for you Michiganders; I know things are way tougher up there than they are here, but we are beginning to see some effect, too. All of that advice, especially about getting and staying out of debt was stuff we have really found to be true in our own lives.

Jena said...

Joyce - I really liked that article too, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It is always interesting for me to hear the perspectives of people like yourself who live in a different place. People here having been saying how bad it is for so long that I feel like I'm just getting used to it!
Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He is my favorite financial guru. I attended his video course, Financial Peace, through a local church and also have his books. I like him a lot because he pushes "get out of debt - and stay out!". I could blab on about him. Anyway, thanks for the comment! :)

Joyce said...

Yes! Dave Ramsey is awesome! I have a couple of his books, and we have really benefitted from them; then I passed them on to my kids. You are so lucky to have learned that stuff at a young age.