Wednesday, February 6, 2008

TOFGA




**I would first like to start off by saying that this weekend would not have even been possible if it weren’t for my family (mom, dad, papa, tio, & tia) who took care of our girls for us. Thank you! And thanks to Aunt Debbie for sending us. It blessed us!**

I’ve been away from the blogging world for a few days because we got to be a part of something extra special as farmers. I'm still trying to process everything that we walked away with.

We went to a TOFGA (Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) conference this weekend in College Station. The conference was jam packed with incredible speakers such as Jeffery Smith, Dr. Will Winter, Jerry Brunetti, and various others that have been key players in the holistic and local food movements. TOFGA did an incredible job putting this conference on and providing some incredible speakers from many different spectrums. The food was outstanding as well and 100% organic and local (as in Texas local).

We watched King Corn, the movie. ‘Wow’ is all I have to say! Well, and that you should definitely watch it too. If you thought Super Size Me was bad, you just wait.



I’m trying to put into words what we walked away with- the knowledge gained, the vision established, the relationships formed.

The farmers of the organic/holistic/grass-fed food industry have to be some of the warmest people that I’ve ever met. I was shocked at their willingness to bestow upon us newbie farmers their lifelong trade secrets, techniques, and skills that have taken them years to acquire. Each table that we sat at had something to offer to our experience- and these weren’t even the speakers at the conference.

We also ran into a cool crew of farmers from the World Hunger Relief in Waco. This is a Christian organization that is basically a ministry in third world countries through agriculture. What an incredible way to minister to entire villages by working alongside them creating a sustainable farm. We had a blast talking with them and learning from them. Our family will definitely be taking a trip up there to visit their farm. You should check them out too.

Jason and I were by far some of the youngest folks in attendance. There aren’t too many people getting into farming these days. The government has set things up so that the land is too expensive, the yield for crops isn’t enough (without subsidies….wink, wink), and it just isn’t worth it really- to be a commercial farmer that is. The average farmer’s age is 60 years old. Now that should tell you something shouldn’t it?

Farming is becoming a lost art. I’m not talking about the type of farming that you plant acres of corn in just 30 minutes with the biggest tractor planting implement money can buy, douse the fields with pesticides, months down the road harvest your field with the flick of a switch, and then take your crops to wherever and it goes into the mouths of whomever.

I’m talking about the kind of farming that requires skill, passion, and faith (plant and pray, not plant and spray). Farming that once allowed farmers to take ownership in what they were producing on their farm because they knew the mouths it would feed. The type of farm that used to be all across America, but is now hard to find and practically non-existent in some parts of our country.

It is amazing to me that society as a whole has been dumbed down by our government who wants us to believe this lie that our food comes from a grocery store. Eggs come out of a carton in a refrigeration unit- not a chicken’s hiney. You would be surprised what people don’t know about their food. Especially kids. You should ask your kids where certain vegetables or even hot dogs come from and see what their answers are. It might shock you.

However, I feel like all of this is about to change. People are caring more and more about what is in their food. We are taking notice that for some reason food is the cheapest that it has ever been, and yet we are the sickest we’ve ever been as a nation. Diabetes is on the rise, heart disease is running rampant, cancer is out of control, and autism is a threat to 1 in 166 children. We are beginning to ask “Why?” Why are we one of the most well fed nations in the world, yet one of the unhealthiest?

I’m sure the list of possibilities that contribute to these problems is as long as it is complex. But, I can’t overlook the fact that all Americans have one thing in common- we eat.

This weekend reinforced our vision the Lord has given us for the farm. We want to produce a variety of foods the way that they were intended to be. Cows and pigs are supposed to eat grass. Chickens are meant to roam freely. Vegetables and fruits are supposed to be grown in garden with good soil in the wind, rain, and sunshine.

Eating locally and becoming a ‘localvore’ is on the rise in our country. Consumers want to see with their own eyes where their food is coming from along with buying it directly from the farmers who are growing it. Jason and I had no idea that this was a real ‘movement’ spreading like wild fire across the nation. We just knew something had to change and buying food locally and directly from the farm seemed to be a real answer within our grasp.

Our desire will never be to achieve ‘organic’ status by the government’s standards. That term is beginning to get on my nerves anyways along with the term ‘all natural’. Sprite has ‘all natural’ on the bottle. Along with Del Monte peaches with peaches and high fructose corn syrup being the first two ingredients.

Oh and by the way. The government is in the process of purchasing the terms ‘Certified Naturally Grown’ and 'Naturally Raised' so be looking for those to start appearing soon at a grocery store near you too. Small farmers (the real people producing naturally grown foods) will no longer be able to use this term unless they spend lots of moolah and buy the rights to do so from the government.

This may all sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to you. You might think, “Those Kramers have lost their ever loving minds and turned weird on us- Austin weird.” No offense Austin-ites. I assure you that isn’t the case at all. We have simply been educated and now have a strong conviction to act.

We have been blessed to be able to get to experience the Lord’s creation of nature daily in everything that we do out here. It is hard to ignore the intricate detail of the His hand. We simply feel that in order to be good stewards of this land, this is the direction that we need to take.

We are excited to be a part of planting, growing, pasturing, and harvesting good wholesome food for those who desire this and putting the culture back in agriCULTURE.

If you are interested in reading more about some of this stuff, here are some great resources:

Local Harvest
Dirt Doctor- great gardening site
Dr. Will Winter
TOFGA
King Corn
The Ethicurean (a little weird, but has all of the latest press releases)
The Stockman Grass Farmer
Acres USA
NoNAIS.org
Jeffrey Smith

6 comments:

Rachel said...

I'm so glad you guys were able to go to this! I was really disappointed that our weekend didn't allow time for me to go hear Sally Fallon. Did you get to hear her?

The Kramer Family said...

No. We didn't get to hear Sally speak. I believe she was sick or something. It was a bummer.

Jennifer Bacak said...

I love this, and your passion for farming! Y'all are awesome! This post made me want to start farming!!!
jenn

Aldape family said...

EGG-cellent!!! I am so on board with all of this. I am so pumped to see how the Lord is going to use your family in this process. Isn't is amazing that the Lord places conviction on all of us in differrent areas, even the areas of food and farming. We love y'all and support your great farm! We are always willing to help you out, may it be planting, plowing or watching your sweet girls!
Love
Kayla

derrickoliver said...

Ok, I realize I'm a little tardy on posting this comment, but I wasn't able to sit down and read this post until moments ago. Some thoughts:

- This makes me want to come do the ywf internship more than ever before. I'll send my resume soon.

- "plant and pray, not plant and spray"... totally lame.

- When you guys go to Waco you should also check out Homestead Heritage, which is a communal living deal just outside of town. They're sooo tight. They farm, and build, and spend their time being awesome.

- You're voting for Ron Paul right?

- I don't think you guys have gone Austin-weird at all (I've long thought that the majority of people in the Station would be doing themselves a favor becoming a little more like Austin folk).

Thanks for sharing that post! Y'all rule. People here don't say y'all... that's a problem.

texasmcvays said...

Now my computer is going to crash because I just opened every tab from your list. Now I've gotta go because one of those tabs is playing music and I am against website music!
K