Waynedale to Denison

We slept in, which was much needed.

Showers, breakfast and on the road around noon, heading North for Waynedale HS in Apple Creek.

We drove through backroads after being on the main roads, an enjoyable change of pace. Ohio is full of rolling hills, and the last dustings of snow as the winter days rapidly approach spring. Waynedale High School was kind enough to host us, Don McConnell the AgEd instructor in his final days after teaching for 32 years. Don's passion was evident in the shop room, where students were building model homes from scrap wood.

The school is going through a financially challenging time, and as a result the FFA program has recently been cut out completely, and will be phased out over the course of the next couple years. The equipment needed repair, and the wood shop was cold because Don said that one of the roll gates to the building wouldn't seal shut. About 20 kids shuffled in, surprised to find the TV setup. We screened some scenes from the documentary, and talked about the advantages and disadvantages of different systems of agriculture. A few kids in the back talked about something else, perhaps the recent state wrestling tournament. One student upfront, was super engaged, and after the screening told us he thought the presentation was awesome, which is appreciated. The kids headed out and we talked a bit with Don, learning about how little he's being paid, and realizing just how often that our nation's AgEd teachers are working because of a sense of purpose, and not because of any financial reward. It's something that matters deeply to them. Which is why it was sad to hear that FFA was cut at Waynesdale, a school district that because of disappearing revenue, it seems, may actually itself be consolidated in the years ahead.

As we drove out of the parking lot, it the sadness of losing a school, losing a community became especially real. We drove through Wayne County and Holmes County towards Granville. Those two counties are the most heavily populated with Amish people in the world. We passed a number of black horse and buggies, filled with huddled Amish folk, keeping warm together in a slow-moving vehicle without a windshield or any sealed-off shelter. We cracked our window a bit in an attempt to feel a little of the cold, and wind they felt, an awkward gesture.

Shane greeted us at Denison, a senior there who is starting a farm with a group of people. He's infectiously excited about agriculture. We booked too large a venue, and 30 of us sat in an auditorium for 200, making the turnout feel smaller than it actually was considering the size of the school. 
We talked a lot about the changing values of our culture, about how more and more students are wanting to go into agriculture. Bryn, who works on a farm with her brother and husband that has sells to customers using the CSA model, talked about how she left a financially well-paying job in Washington DC to start a farm. She said she saw it as there's two kinds of jobs, jobs where you make money to buy food, or jobs where you make food. She decided to make food, and today she and her family are reaping the benefits. 
Dick Jensen of Flying J talked about how he moved from a financially wealthy neighborhood out to a farm, because of a health transformation. He read Joel Salatin's book "You Can Farm" and got started. 
Olivia talked about how we should all be eating less meat, a somewhat frequent criticism of the film's message, one that we can certainly appreciate. 
After the screening, Piper showed us her 2004 VW beetle, which she's converted to run off of waste vegetable oil, that is the fryer grease that is used in kitchens across the world. She's saved a lot of money on gasoline, using diesel for about 1/7th of her fuel. Huge savings economically, and environmentally. She was so inspiring that three of the security guards in the parking structure came up, curious about how the whole system worked. 
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