Octobert 16, 2010 – Oxfam Event at High Hopes Gardens

We’ve spent the last few weeks spiffing up the farm in anticipation of the event held at our farm this weekend. A month or more ago, we learned that we would be hosts for an Oxfam event held in conjunction with the World Food Prize.

Here we are with the farmers from around the world. After being hosted by farmers and farm-related businesses on our ag trips to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Japan, it was nice to be able to return the favor.

Here the minister at a local church greets the guests from Haiti.

By the time the event was over, about 80 people came to hear the farmers and tour the farm.  Media from the local paper and Iowa Public Radio covered the event – I have since heard that three short stories ran on IPR, but I haven’t heard them yet.

Here, Linda readies some appetizers before the guests arrive – watermelon from our garden.  We provided the watermelon and raspberries for the wonderful raspberry pastries that Kamal from the Phoenix cafe provided in the catered meal that included squash soup, chicken soup, veggie tray all sourced from the Grinnell Farmer’s Market – in addition to rice from the farmers in attendance – a true local/international meal!

This woman from Haiti talked about the challenges of growing food in Haiti.  So much of their crop is lost to dmage in storage (or lack of storage).  She was working to locally transform crops into products that would not spoil as easily (turning peanuts into peanut butter).  She had a hard time getting out of the country in a timely manner as the only place to do government business is the capital, so she needed to make the 6 hour trip to visit the capital and spend 2-3 days there.  She was supposed to arrive days ago, but arrived at the DSM airport at 8:15 and was scheduled to present at the World Food Prize symposium at 9:15!

This Vietnamese farmer was part of a cooperative growing rice in a new production scheme called SRI or System of Rice Intensification.  The local farmers were leery of changing over to a new method of production that did not require periodic flooding of the rice.  Even though he tried it and had great success, the other local farmers would not try until the coop agreed that if they tried the new method and it didn’t work, they would pay the farmer for the amount they usually grew.  That method worked and the coop didn’t have to pay out since the yields were so much higher.

This farmer is from Mali.  He brought along some props, including a big gourd on a rope that they used to have to use to throw water out of a pit, over the top of his head, to the crops above.  They now have a pump and a new non-flooding rice method, so he no longer spends days throwing water out of the pit.

This farmer from India was a real fireball (in center).  Among other things, she invented a new type of weeder for her fields.  At the symposium, she cornered the director of the Gates Foundation and others to tell her story and advocate for funding for small stakeholders.  In the “it’s a small world” category – her project was undertaken by ICRISAT and some researchers from the ICRISAT campus in India where Claire had her summer internship were at our farm as part of this tour!

Finally, at the end there was a Q and A. Here, distinguished sustainable agriculture Fred Kirschenmann brings up some discussion points. Fred arrived early and helped set up. A farmer true to heart, I join the very few people in the world who have had Fred arrange hay bales in the barn for seating! One of the participants said the barn was the best auditorium they’ve ever been in to see a powerpoint presentation!

one year ago…”World Food Prize Symposium Sessions”