Sunday, August 16, 2009

Joel Salatin's visit to Oregon

It's been a whirlwind several days for Joel, although he often packs his days tightly when he travels. Patrick Donaldson of Portland scheduled it all and did a great job of making sure a lot of people could get their Joel fix.

Thursday they went to the Urban Farm store and Whole Foods in Portland, then to the Hollywood neighborhood of Portland to host a fundraiser for Hollywood Market and Oregon Consumers and Farmers Association (of which I am President). I gave my obligatory speech thanking Joel and Patrick for the fundraiser, added in what OCFA was going to be doing next and plugged the anti-NAIS petition Sharlyn and I have been circulating for a few months. (Patrick and I want to host a Feed Our Legislators event in February in Salem and I'd like to have 2,000 plus signatures by then!) I was pleased that people laughed when I hoped they'd laugh, clapped when I hoped they'd clap and that many stopped by to sign before they left the building. We got one membership on the spot and enough people took brochures and newsletters so I hope more memberships will come in the mail.

Joel got on stage and kept the audience spellbound with his stories of government interferance in the lives of small farmers. Many complain and whine. Part of Joel's popularity is that he can make ridiculous and maddening laws and situations funny. People know the subject is serious and they know they should be angry, but angry speakers are not great entertainment. Because Joel is a natural story teller and because he flashes huge, beautiful smiles often, people will listen to his tales of woe and LIKE IT.

I had to go home and take care of the animals and open the store Friday so I missed the activities then, but Joel and Patrick did the radio and tv circuit. It sounded like so much fun!

Saturday they went to the new farm owned by Patrick's daughter Alisha and her husband Tyler Jones, who used to be an apprentice of Joel's. Tyler and I met in Virginia in 2003 or 2004 I think, when there was a meeting at Joel's house not too long after he became VICFA's president. I was amazed at what Tyler and Alisha had for a home base: a very pretty (although in disrepair) historic Federal style farmhouse overlooking 106 acres. Tyler's only 29. Apparently he is mortgaged to the eyeballs, but he also has an AWESOME family on both his and Alisha's sides. Both fathers help feed and care for the animals! Patrick owns a business in Portland, but comes down a couple days at a time and lets the kids sleep in while he does chores. How incredibly cool is that??? Tyler's father helped build the processing barn. I haven't met Tyler's mother, but Alisha's mother, Patrick's wife, started a food buying club in Portland. How cool is THAT? Wardeh, if you're reading this, I gave her your GNOFGLINS blog info and told her you might have some pointers.

Joel's success as a farmer is also partially due to incredible family support. His success as a writer and public speaker, of course, is partially because he is naturally a go-getter, and partially because his family makes it possible for him to globetrot. Son Daniel takes care good of the farm and Teresa knows Joel will eventually, faithfully come home.

I got off track here. A little side foray into the importance of a loving family.

Joel and Tyler split the spotlight today. They talked about raising and processing chickens, custom grazing other people's cattle, a family milk cow, bees, pigs, politics, etc. I kept mostly quiet until they got to the politics and then I had to throw in my two cents now and then. They took us around the farm and again, I was amazed at the potential. It's an expensive farm, but it is also just barely outside the city, which will help hugely with their customer base. The view from the main house is pretty. They have quite a lot of pasture that is dry and lifeless now, but could be brought back to fertility within a couple of years. Tyler and his dad Brad did a great job building the processing building. It is not finished, but looks professional already.

I collected more signatures and emails on the Anti-NAIS petitition. I didn't get any memberships today, but I felt like several people were very likely to join.

The hard part is I spent $110 on gas, am sitting on E, didn't open the store two days and don't have a lot to show for it yet. The good part is I feel like OCFA and I have turned a corner. I think I made friends today I will keep for a lifetime. I have felt mighty lonely since moving here. I also think Patrick deserves more gratitude than I was able to show him in my little gift of food from my store. He introduced me to a lot of people I really needed to meet. I enjoyed seeing Joel for the first time in almost two and a half years. I have lots of email addresses (I hope I can read) to send information about bills in Congress and in Oregon's Legislative Assembly. I will send them an email version of a newsletter, information about upcoming OCFA events and will hopefully get at least a dozen memberships from these two events.

I found out when I came back that the House has sent HR2749 as they passed it to the Senate for consideration. The Senate already has S510. We will have to watch these closely. I will read and compare the two and write back.

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Anonymous Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS said...

Yes, I'm reading! I'm subscribed to your feed via email, so I read just as soon as you hit "publish" most days. The day at Afton Field Farm sounds great - I'm glad you made friends and got connected! I'd be happy to help your friend, though my co-op is pretty small. :)

Welcome home! ~Wardeh

August 16, 2009 at 8:18 AM  

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