Opportunities for Small Farmers and Food Advocates
Dugger Family Farm, Indiana Farmers Union, Purdue Extension ... that's my world. Randy and I spend most of our days and evenings here on the farm, aside from off-farm meetings for me and off-farm projects for both of us. Today, we're heading out to Shares, Inc. to re-establish and plant a raised bed garden there. Volunteer projects like this are more fulfilling than anything else that we do.
We're also supposed to hear today, or sometime this week I'm hoping, about a high tunnel program we applied for through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. I mentioned this in my previous post. The program reimburses growers for the expense of purchasing a high tunnel. It's a great deal, and I'm hoping we get the green light. I'm also excited about several other things we have going right now, too:
1. Later in the month, we should hear back about our application to attend the Beginning Farmer Institute through the National Farmers Union. Members of Indiana Farmers Union enjoy discounts on lots of stuff, like Hastings Mutual Insurance, Johnny's Seeds, Burpee Seeds, Sow True Seeds, Small Farm Central services, Rosie's Work Wear, and more, but the educational opportunities afforded by a union membership beat all else--if you ask me. The Beginning Farmer Institute ships new farmers around the country on three separate trips to attend classes, visit successful farms, and network with other farmers. That's a great opportunity to learn with nearly 100 percent of expenses paid by the National Farmers Union.
2. We'll be setting up a small micro greens operation here on the farm soon. Randy's building a greenhouse, and we have the trays, lights, seeds, and soil to get started on a partnership project with the Indiana Farmers Union. I'll talk more about that when it's up and running.
3. I've joined Indiana's Agricultural Advisory Council for The Humane Society of the United States, and I'm in good company. Pete Eshelman from Joseph Decuis, Greg Gunthorp from Gunthorp Farms, and James Benham from Indiana Farmers Union are also seated on the council. I'm excited to see what good we can do with this group.
4. I'm setting up a few networking events at local restaurants for farmers, local food advocates, and growers. For starters, I am working with SoupHerb in Greenfield, Riverfront Tap Room in Shelbyville, and farmBloomington in Bloomington as event host sites. I'm also hoping Indiana Farmers Union can co-sponsor a hemp event with the Indiana Hemp Industries Association that will take place the first week of June (Hemp History Week).
5. I'm on the planning committee for the Indiana Local Food Summit, hosted by Purdue Extension's Local Food Program, which will take place later this year. Lots of opportunities for local food advocates and healthy food access groups to meet and network there.
Stay tuned for details on all of this. In the meantime, stop by the farm for some pie, coffee, and quality time with the goats. We have plenty to share. If you're interested in being involved in some of these projects and opportunities, I'd love to hear about it. --Sherri