Well- sometimes everything falls into place. 

We landed at Lambert and drove West into the sunset on 70. 

Shared a meal at the home of Nancy & Ken, who hosted us stragglers as well as good friends Paul & Phyllis Willis and Judy, too. We ate food and talked about pelliated woodpeckers. Then to the closest Motel 6 and to sleep.

Today was a day of waiting mostly. 

Waiting for 6pm, which is when the first screening of our Young Farmer screening series started at the wondrous Missouri Theater in Columbia, Missouri. 

We bided time by sipping coffee, getting haircuts, checking and receiving e-mails. Wayne Prichard, one of the most positively optimistic people I've ever known, greeted us and took us out to a great lunch. His enthusiasm and kindness are palpable, contagious. 

He said goodbye and went back to the waiting game. More smoothies, and e-mail, more lounging and checking phones. We ambled down to a park where a creek with rocks followed parallel to a bike path. I told Andy I had a bad feeling about the turnout, thought we would have trouble getting college students to turnout for a screening about meat production on a Thursday night. 

Finally, the waiting ended. We walked up the street to the Missouri Theater. There was a crowd of 80 waiting to get in. I thought that there was another event, but it turned out they were here to see American Meat. 

In the reception area, Chipotle provided chips and guacamole, and we talked with people and did a brief rundown of how everything would work logistically. 

There are 800 seats in the lower level of the auditorium, and we were pleasantly surprised to see people continue to come in. When all was said and done, we estimated that 700 were in attendance, with a good mix of farmers from all perspectives and backgrounds. 

People shuffle in to the Missouri Theater, a few minutes before the screening starts. (Photo Andy Trimbach)

I gave a brief introduction, and the film got underway. 

The audience was very engaged, and laughed and gasped at all the right moments. 

Rueben Stern- a professor of journalism at Mizzou, was kind enough to moderate the panel. I talked about how the film came to be, and then each panelist predicted what the possible growth of niche production might be. 

The conversation took many turns, and there were frequent bursts of applause from the audience. Dr. Massey, an agricultural economist pointed out that the acreage of pasture needed to raise America's meat on grass would be more out West than in the East. 


Dr. Massey, Paul Willis, Dr. Hendrickson, Don Nikodim, and myself talk farming. (Photo Andy Trimbach)

Paul Willis talked about the efficiencies of scale that separate an operation like Niman from something like Polyface. Mary Hendrickson made the point we may want to reevaluate how much meat that we eat. That farmers should raise less animals, and get paid more to do it. Don Nikodim talked passionately advocating for conventional producers, and frequently attracted applause from students in the auditorium. I talked about the declining population of rural America, and how an increase in niche production would help to create more jobs, which would help to keep people in rural America. It seemed like 5 minutes had passed when Reuben said that our half hour was up. We thanked the crowd and called it a night. 

The energy in the room was electric, and there's a sense that change is not only possible, but inevitable. 

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in Ruminations 2012-10-12 13:10:24 -0400