City to Country

We crossed the street to Des Moines Area Community College- or D-MACK- as it's called. 35 students in a small room in the most urban of our screenings thus far- meaning some of the students present were totally new to farming. But given  this is the heart of agriculture in America- there were still a good number that grew up on a farm, or continue to live and work on their parents or grandparents place in the summers. 

Some scenes- like the story of Richard Morris- a city dweller who ditches a 100k job to start farming- seemed to resonate more, while stories like that of Curlew, IA- a small rural town losing people- was more distant. 

Our friend Brianne Cummins, who's starting a farm in her backyard in Des Moines city limits, and Melanie- who's also starting a farm- a grass-based system similar to Polyface- helped to lead discussions with the small groups around the room. Some students were already excited about local food, as we heard from a woman who helps operate a CSA, and others were a bit groggy considering the screening started at 8am.

Lunch was at Big City Burger, a wildly popular local chain that sources some of their meat and produce locally. 

After- we hunkered down at Java Joe's and edited and e-mailed for a few hours before heading East on 80 towards Oxford. The sun was setting in our rear and side mirrors, round cumulous clouds extending towards the horizon, with red and orange light dramatically underneath. 

Andy took a picture when we stopped to fill up with gas.

As we arrived at Rapid Creek Ranch- near Oxford, IA- a town of 500- Doug and Justin were finishing up chores. Well not totally, they still had some eggs to wash and put in cartons for tomorrow night's delivery. We sat around the kitchen table eating 7 layer dip and talking about the emerging local food movement, about how Rapid Creek Ranch is seeing a continuous rise in demand for their produce. About how they are now getting closer to being able to secure larger guaranteed contracts with schools, farmers markets, restaurants, and even with the local prison. A number of other grass-based farmers are sprouting up in the area, and there's a sense that this thing going on has some staying power.

Pam got home from work and took over quality control of the eggs making sure to shut out an active orange cat. After all the eggs were packed and ready, she made sure we all had cake before heading off to bed. 

Chores start up at 6:30 tomorrow.

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 11:39:40 -0400