Routes to Farm Summit
Last week, Beth, Jack, and I made the short trip to Starved Rock Lodge for the first Routes to Farm Summit after dropping Duncan at school. It was refreshing to have a farm conference right in our backyard. The lodge is close enough to shuttle back and forth to take care of the animals and have an evening away swimming with the boys in the indoor pool and relaxing in the hot tub. This is real treat for winter weary farmers!
Another great thing about the Routes to Farm Summit is that it’s a conference for farmers by farmers. An alliance of a dozen farm advocacy, training, and outreach organization worked together to put the conference together. Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm is a member of several of them. 120 farmers and advocates to spent two days collaborating on what was most important to them. At the outset, the Summit did not have a set agenda. Attendees were given a couple of pre-reads and asked to bring their ideas with them. We were encouraged to be ready to talk, listens, and brainstorm.
Michael Herman facilitated using the Open Space meeting technique where agenda items, priorities, possible solutions, and next steps are generated organically. The free-form nature of the exercise threw some of us initially; but soon we got into a flow. Lots of ideas bubbled to the surface and many notes were taken. On the second day, these began to organize and coalesce. Contacts were collected for people interested in each issue and will be shared for the work to continue, a master document will compiled, and there are plans to convene again next year!
Generous funding from The Kinship Foundation and the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust made the Summit possible. Thanks!
Here are links to all the alliance members. (The asterisks indicate organization with which Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm is an active member.)
Liberty Prairie Foundation
Angelic Organics Learning Center
The Land Connection
This Old Farm
Band of Farmers *
Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA)
Illinois Stewardship Alliance *
Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT)*