Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Community of Interest › Community › Small Farms Conservancy
- May 24, 2009 at 7:16 pm #40587dominiquer60Moderator
I am sure that I am not the only DAP member that subscribes to the Small Farmers Journal and recently received a membership drive letter for the Small Farms Conservancy. http://www.smallfarmsconservancy.org for those of you that would like to read all about it and do not receive SFJ.
It seems to me that DAP can serve as a way to get the ball rolling with ideas about this proposed/newly forming organization. I know that Lynn is not one for spending time on forums, but perhaps since he is looking for feedback about SFC, a thread specifically about the fledgling organization could be helpful to the cause.
So lets give the folks in Sisters, OR what they asked for, our interests and opinions.
ErikaMay 24, 2009 at 7:56 pm #52579dominiquer60Moderator
Wow, the potential of the SFC is great, to the point that it should be careful not to spread its self too thin too quick. As a young and aspiring/part time farmer I value all the listed goals of this organization, but to narrow it down Education/training, Reaserch, Networking, Advocacy, Access to Land and Legal Assistance are some of my bigger interests.
Small farms need a voice advocating small farms and their needs. It is tough to do this in an Agribusiness world where soil and industry meet to make global dollars. I can get small farm concerns in my state’s Farm Bureau Official Policy, but I can’t get them to act on it or influence the American Farm Bureau enough to make a difference. It would be great to have an Advocate of Agrarian minded folks that make a living not a profit.
Farmer to Farmer education/training in a real life setting is priceless. We had a local group, Regional Farm and Food Project, founded by writer Tracy Frisch, that held many farmer to farmer workshops. I was fortunate enough to get in on the last couple years of these and learned a lot. Unfortunately now that she is no longer involved, the group no longer focuses on making farmers, they focus on making customers which is nice but no longer serves my continuing education needs.
DAP serves very well for networking, I am a big fan. With such a small but slightly growing population in such a large area, it can only help to have networking as an important part of SFC.
I understand that my donation toward this project represents involvement, mutual support and respect. It is hard for me to financially support an effort that has such ambitious goals, but an unclear focus (at the moment). I think that my plan is to support it a little at a time, and as focus solidifies so can my support.
PS The caretaking services sound almost too good to be true especially a farm too small to support apprentices that can usually serve as such a service, but what if you could take off for a special weekend or a conference:)May 24, 2009 at 11:06 pm #52578Michael ColbyParticipant
I agree with the need to give this project the attention it deserves. I believe that it is extremely important to wed the practical skills with the political realities/dreams. Yes, we all love working with our horses. But we also all live within a political system that wields an enormous influence upon the choices we make — or are allowed to make.
I’d like to believe that there is a powerful underlying political/social/cultural aspect to what we are striving for in our day-to-day encounters in the horse world. And hats off to Lynn Miller for making the effort — once again — to bring us together to chew on the bigger questions within the bigger picture.
Personally, I’m more attracted to answering those questions from a local or regional perspective. And I think all of us who are toiling with horses to “get the job done” can offer an essential perspective and even leadership in the growing political discourse on sustainable farm/forestry policy, renewable energy and “localism.”
We’re not just talking about it, we’re doing it. Everyday. And I’m all for the efforts to exercise our democratic rights — and responsibilities! — to stand up, speak out, and get organized about our lives and livelihoods.
At this point, my only critique of Miller’s “Small Farms Conservancy” project is the third word in his group’s name. Conservancy? Sorry, but it sounds old and dated to me– kind of musty and dusty. Sure, we need to conserve, but we also need to inspire, envision and create the future of farming with our very important stamp upon it.
Let’s let the Monsantos and John Deere’s of the world play defensive and seek to “conserve” what they once had, while we use our draft animal power to pass them by with our critical “back to the future” lifestyle and outlook that has one criitical advantage: It makes sense.
The Horse People’s Union, Local 101? Or, better yet, the Union of Rural Folk? Sign me up.
Just some thoughts after I put the horses away after our first day of deer & horse flies here in Central Vermont.May 25, 2009 at 1:57 am #52577ngcmcnParticipant
Just took a quick look at the SFC site and its an impressive can of worms. It seems a like a huge undertaking. One of the sub headings, such as insurance,if brought to fruition would be more then one full time job for many people. Curious to know if this whole project would be membership driven, or if there is a team of folks working on it, grant monies, etc…
The land preservation piece–Farm land FOR FARMING–is especially interesting and important. There are some models out there working on this goal, but also and awful lot of conservation of land for the sake of it–without working out the farmer access piece. Rich persons’ tax shelter play farms… muddied by politics in conservation agencies.
It would be nice to see this issue addressed with a little more of a pure heart and clarity of purpose.
A few thoughts…May 25, 2009 at 1:29 pm #52575Gabe AyersKeymaster
Having spent considerable time on the phone with Lynn and others on this issue in the recent past I am deeply committed to this project in a personal and professional way.
It is a massive undertaking. The primary point to me is that in order to have the unique status of being a Public Charity, one must be providing services that are not currently being addressed by other public entities…including the government. Being a 501c3 means that you are able to address public needs and compete with the government for revenue. HHFF has enjoyed this status for over a decade including the all important five year review process. That alone is not enough to keep the effort going. We get so little charitable giving from the public that it hardly keeps the group going. We are not good beggers or grant writers and tend to work toward supporting ourselves from the work itself and innovative approaches like the DRAFTWOOD “green certified” lumber and forest products program. It is not easy and I suspect SFC will find very high hurdles to become established as a public charity. The problems will be when these hurdles cause the runner to stumble and not finish the race.
It is a most worthy cause which in itself is no guarantee that it will succeed, maybe even the contrary.
We at HHFF have offered our participation in any way possible including sharing the law firm we used to get our 501c3 status. I am hopeful we will continue to be included in this effort. Unfortunately we don’t personally have much money to contribute and that seems to be the need at this moment.
I understand Lynn’s desire for continuity of this cultural community beyond his own biological tenure. All of us elders have that inevitable urgency before us daily.
This is a very complex issue and proposal. It will be a miracle – if it can be pulled off.
Anyone that has been as rightly suspicious of the government over the years as Lynn has been, surly also knows that no good deed goes unpunished in the public arena. What this is proposing is just too good to get by the entrenched power structure and status quo keepers without more and higher hurdles and hoops put in place to hinder any real progress.
Thanks to Erika for putting this issue on these pages for our consideration and participation.
It seems the name is a take off on The Nature Conservancy… the worlds largest “environmental organization”.May 25, 2009 at 2:47 pm #52576ngcmcnParticipant
Jason, good points all the way around in your last reply. SFC seems to me but a mere seed at this point. It’ll take good soil, and many years to grow. Maybe there needs to be a conference/seminar/brainstorm/git together of some sort if there already hasn’t been one.
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