Both of us were able to attend the Cooperator's Meeting for Practical Farmers of Iowa on Thursday of this week (R went last year). It is, in reality, a two-day event. But, something about T having a real job precluded our being there for day two. Well, that, and the fact that there is much to do and less time to do it in.
Last year, GFF was involved in a tomato trellising trial project funded by the Ceres Foundation and coordinated by PFI. One result of this was the field day we hosted last fall. It is likely that we will be involved in some different research projects this year. One (or so) horticultural and one with respect to poultry. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
However, the biggest benefit to us comes from the opportunity to see and converse with others who do things similar to what we do. It is a splendid opportunity to commisserate, share ideas and explore resources. Everyone in the horticulture group is just as interested in learning more as we are, which means we can discuss topics in some depth.
Perhaps the strangest things about being involved in groups like this is how your perceptions of the group, individuals in the group and your place in the group change. For example, there are members of the group that we identified early as those with experience and knowledge in the areas we aspired to enter. They are no less admirable now than they were then - but we find ourselves speaking to them as peers and are no longer shocked when they divulge problems in production that we once irrationally believed couldn't cause them grief. Instead, we have learned that many problems and issues will persist regardless of experience and prior successes. We are working as a group to continue to fill our tool boxes with strategies and processes that we can use. Each time I attend a PFI event, I come away with hope that we can...eventually...make a difference in how we grow things in this state.