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March 5, 2014

This past week, Christina and I attended the organic farming conference put on by the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (I know…it’s a mouthful). Continuing education is one thing that good farmers do during the winter and this is a wonderful opportunity. Held in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the farming conference covers a wide range of topics. Each year, I pick out three areas to work on.
First, I’m stepping up our social media outreach. We realize that not everyone can make it out to the farm each year so we’re bringing the farm to you. Other than our Facebook page and our Twitter feed, check out Montalbano Farms on Instagram and Pinterest too!
Next, farmers wear all sorts of hats and one I absolutely need to wear more often is my accounting hat. At the Farm Cash Flow workshop, we covered the basics. Part of sustainability for an organic farm is financial sustainability. I’m on it!
Finally, as Montalbano Farms has grown in size and scope, we’ve hired crews over the years. I’m trying to be a better manager and I attended two workshops on how to do just that. Farming is very hard work and we try to take care of our employees as best we can. This year, I’m going to be a better manager and better boss for everyone on the farm…including myself!
Besides all this book learning, there is one part of the conference that stands out the most. With over 3,000 attendees, the conference brings together all sorts of academics, farmers, gardeners, and your assorted oddballs too. In fact, it’s informally known as the largest congregation of handlebar mustaches in the world! So it’s a great time to see old friends and make some new ones. Loyal readers know that one of the reasons that I got into farming in the first place is the farmers. They are good people. They work hard. They try to be fine stewards of the land. They work to raise healthy families. They are builders and creators and thinkers too. I was fortunate to spend a good deal of time with some friends and they help keep me focused on the food system I am working to create.┬áIt’s also happens to be a great time to enjoy some organic vodka with friends, in which case an older-than-he-thinks-he-is farmer might drink too much. But that’s a story for another time and never really happened anyway…
Christina and I hope that you have a wonderful week.