For the past two weeks I have been working a couple of days a week at Fedco Seeds. Pulling seed orders from all across the continent. I find this job a great joy. Seeing what other people, from those with obvious micro plots in a city to huge farm orders, want to plant in their gardens and fields. I pulled an order from Wassila, Alaska and some of us on the crew debated whether or not I should write a note. And, of course, about the content of that note. I wanted to write “say hi to Sarah for us.” Meg thought I should ask the customer if she could really see Russia from there. A few orders later there was one full of zinnias, my favorite flower, I wanted to write a note saying that it was nice to pull an order for someone who was obviously as big a fan of these little garden sunbursts as I am. In the end the only note I wrote was one to a farm couple I happen to be friends with and whose order I randomly picked from the stack of requests. Among the many, many things there are to love about my little solidarity co-op the personal touch we can add to our customer service is definitely right up there on the list.
On Saturday I attended the board retreat for the food co-op board on which I serve. The consultant who was running the meeting said something very profound. During a discussion of bylaws changes she said that the work we do is “a way to show we are a radical economic institution. Not just a nice store.” A powerful idea that I wish would resonate more with the board as a whole. I’m thinking about making it part of the opening business at each board meeting until it sinks in a bit.
Okay, so enough of my joys and frustrations. How about some fun facts? From the Maine Gardener column in the Maine Sunday Telegram 1/25/15 some interesting factoids he gleaned from the Agricultural Trade Show at the beginning of last month:
*Forage radishes make a great cover crop for a no-till planting system. (BTW we sell the seed at Fedco)
*Waldo County Maine (my home county) ranks sixth in the country in the percentage of crops sold through CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)
*Anyone who can manage to grow hops successfully in Maine (damn Japanese Beetles) can easily sell their entire crop to the abundant crop of micro-breweries springing up around the state.
*Nation-wide the percentage of farms owned and run by women is 14%. Here in Maine it is more than double that at 29%. There are so many comments I could make about this particular factoid but I will be quiet and just let that sink in for a bit.
There are times that I feel I live in the center of the progressive farming universe. I know there are folks in the midwest who would take umbrage with that statement but it sure feels good to live where I live. One of the many epicenters of the revolution.