Southern SAWG: The Best People In The Best gathering For Our Best Future
The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group held its 25th annual gathering—the largest ever—in Lexington last week. More than 1400 people from 13 southern states, including Kentucky, went on field trips, taught mini-courses, shared experiences from real life, and ratcheted up their energy for growing and selling food to us eaters in ways that are good for all. See the rich, impressive offerings here.
At times the event looked a lot like people sitting in conference rooms anywhere—except that many of these rooms filled all the way to the back and required extra seats. And except that the mix of races, ages, and genders made its own statement about the appeal of the event. And, finally, except that the light in the faces, the warmth in the conversations and the spirit of informed optimism and determination radiated from the people present. Some photos and a bit more information follow.
The tradeshow featured objects not quite found in nature, but intended to be nature-friendly. Best I can tell, this one, a K.U.L.T finger weeder, when pulled behind a tractor, weeds row crops, replacing pesticides in large scale production.
Fine seed companies, both venerable and new, brought beautiful seeds and knowledge to the trade show. The offerings from Common Wealth Seed Growers (VA), High Mowing (VT), Johnny's Selected Seeds (ME), Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (VA) and Sow True Seed (NC) made even this non-gardening grower-groupie fantasize about plots of land, warm soil temps, spring....
Beautiful fibers at the Singing Hills Goat Farm trade show booth.
I missed both of the conference's Kentucky-inspired lunches. The closing Taste of Kentucky banquet featured 25 Kentucky ingredients that Elmwood Stock Farm's Mac Stone worked months to organize, order (and in some cases, pick up and deliver.) I particularly welcomed the great pile of Sheltowee Farm mushrooms that topped my plate.
Below, Southern SAWG board member Cathy Jones of Perry-winkle Farm in North Carolina shows the beauty of the vegetarian dinner plate.
Below from left, Cathy Jones (Perry-winkle Farm, NC), Ann Bell Stone (Elmwood Stock Farm, KY), Steve Kay (vice mayor, Lexington, KY), Mac Stone (Elmwood Stock Farm, KY), John Bell (Elmwood Stock Farm, KY).
On the left below, with Ambi Stone and Steve Kay, meet Jean Mills of Tuscaloosa CSA, who has organized all 25 SSAWG conferences. ALL! I offer heartfelt gratitude to Jean and everyone at Southern SAWG for the thoughtful ways they engage participants, create many warm opportunities to connect as well as learn, and intentionally support the mission of Southern SAWG.
“Southern SAWG’s Mission is to empower and inspire farmers, individuals, and communities in the South to create an agricultural system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Because sustainable solutions depend on the involvement of the entire community, Southern SAWG is committed to including all persons in the South without bias.”
My gratitude to all at Southern SAWG, and all who attend, take part and work steadily toward beneficial agriculture, for their work to sustain us and our world. My hope is rising.