Photo by Carol Ann Sayle
Every year, the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association holds a conference on sustainable agriculture in a city more or less central to most attendees. This year it was in Waco (yes, there are good things about Waco). Of course, Texas is a large state, so what's convenient to some can be a long trek for others. But the opportunity to hear experienced farmers and ranchers talk about what works and (especially entertaining) what doesn't is always valuable--even if some of the experts hail from faraway paradises where more things are possible than they are around here. As an adjunct to that weekend's lineup, several farms offered free tours. We were one of two from the Austin area.
It was clear, in an all-volunteer outfit, that promotion for the tours was up to the individual farms. I had nightmares that I would be taking an entire day from production to give a tour to two people. As worthy as that might be, I alerted the newspapers' food editors and the talents on the radio gardening shows to this magnificent opportunity for gardeners and aspiring farmers to exchange ideas and questions.
I expected around 30 folks. Geography, in farming as in real estate, is everything. Our five-acre farm is located in the central part of the City of Austin. Almost 300 people came. Well, the tour was free!