Today I got up quite early for a winter Saturday, put on some clothes, gathered my things, and drove about 200 miles south of here to deliver Farmers Market 101. I put together a presentation for fledgling farmers about best practices that can help ensure success at farmers markets… from the market manager’s point of view. My big talky theme right now is about creating a culture of commitment within the local food system, and especially within the framework of preserving markets as public spaces and community resources, so I test-talked about this concept as well as giving quite a bit of nutsy-boltsy advice to these farmers (Nutsy-Boltsy Piece of Advice #1: Be cool to the market’s manager. Seriously. Even if that wasn’t my job it would be my #1 piece of advice.). It was a little weird and definitely awesome to see people writing things down as I spoke. I wanted to look at people’s notes – are you actually getting something out of all this babbling? I wanted to ask. Rather than give handouts with bullet points when I do presentations, I give them copies of my slides with room for notes because I want listeners to write down what they’re taking away, what’s important to them, rather than me tell them what’s important. It’s going to be different for everyone. I gauged people’s reactions as I spoke, and will be tweaking the presentation for delivery to a similar group later this month. I am so not proficient at this, so the practice is good. But talking about farmers markets is one of my favorite things to do.
Over lunch, I talked with a woman who used the term “smart farm” regarding her operation and I’ve been turning the words over in my head since we chatted. The context was diversification within the operation – stop growing what doesn’t sell, start listening to what customers want, embrace technology, try new ways of reaching customers, be flexible. She totally rocked. I hope to run into her again.
I don’t love getting up in front of people and presenting, so when I have to do it, I tend to wear clothes I love and feel the most myself in.
Jim & Lilly found this lovely brown Sherpa sweater for me and surprised me with it for Xmess this year. I am not exaggerating when I say I wear it all the time and would wear it every day if I could; I’m currently trying to lay my hands on at least one more in another color so I can mix it up. It’s lightweight but warm, flattering, and generally very cool. I wore the sweater and my best-fitting brown corduroys today and felt pretty together.
Then I drove, and drove, and drove. Central and southern Illinois are not that much fun to drive through in the winter, even when it’s sunny and 50 degrees. When I returned, Jim texted and asked if I wanted to go to Black Dog for a beer, and I said YES. It’s one of my favorite places, period, in C-U.
So we went, and ordered some wings to go, and while we waited, had a pint of Shark Attack and talked with the owner, Mike. His baby daughter is almost 5 months old, and he offered me some baby-holding time.
I’m going to take him up on it.