The Good Life

It was our first day of three screenings.

We  drove east on 30 for 15 miles to Nevada, IA, which is pronounced Ne VAY da, different from the state. Kevin Cooper is the Ag Ed instructor there, and has a big personality, and everyone calls him "Coop". He's got a lot of positive energy and a unique creative mind. He told us about a cool concept- Morp- which he'll probably share with you if you ask him.

Gathered about 75 students from two schools in the cafeteria, and were joined by Craig Cox from the Environmental Working Group. The small groups discussed, debated, agreed, disagreed. Good for the mind. 

We drove back to Ames for brunch at a hidden coffee place Craig- a resident of Ames suggested- Stomping Grounds. We talked about the work EWG does and about a number of issues facing agriculture, including the politics.

Marshalltown was closer than expected and we screened for the omnipotent Sally Wilson- who with only a few days notice managed to get 50 students in front of a screen in the general gathering area of the Student Union. There was a group playing the card game Magic throughout the screening- which was a first- but they were kind and didn't distract from the film any more than the film distracted from their game. 

The students at MCC were super engaged, showing a lot of knowledge of agriculture, and many showing an interest in getting into it. The students at Chris' table in the first break really showed passion for the topic. At Craig's table, we had a lively discussion about the emergence of corporate entities like Walmart and Chipotle into local agriculture, and the ramifications of that. One tall earnest Native American student- Dawson Davenport said he wanted to intern at Polyface Farms. His tribe has land he can farm for free, and he wants to make it happen. Moments like the one with Dawson, make everything glow with optimism. 

Further South and East we entered the town of Grinnell where we were welcomed by the very tall John Andelson, a professor at Grinnell College, who made every effort to make our stay wondrous- which it was. On a bit of a tight schedule we went to Relish- a new restaurant- with local meats and veggies. It was Craig, Andy, Chris, John and I at first, and we were then joined by young farmer Kayla- who grew up on a farm in Northeast Iowa and knew much about raising animals, including sheep, cattle and bison. Given that it was Valentine's we were a bit concerned that we'd have a light turnout for a 7pm screening as we headed out of the crowded restaurant filled with lovebirds.

At first, it appeared the fear may materialize, but a late-arriving crowd soon filled the high-ceilinged room, and we filled up the 50 available seats. There was local bison jerky on hand that John had arranged for, and we had a good discussion following, with many local farmers in attendance, and a strong passion for local food. 

Chris, Andy and I said goodnight to Craig- who we'd spent all day with- eating quite well I might add- and then goodnight to Kayla- who made some suggestions for young farmers we could document for our new video series. We had rooms at the old and elegant Grinnell House, where one sleeps in fine antiques, and has constant reminders of tradition and history. It was our first three screening day, and sleep came early, easily and in great abundance. 

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 11:25:33 -0400