Our days may not have been filled with canoeing and basket weaving, but in many ways, the past two weeks of this conference have felt like a trip back to summer camp...living in dorm style, structured schedules, a cloistered campus, mess tent and field trips. And just like summer camp, the best part is all the new friends you make...Francisco from Tucson, Christina from Germany, Tom from Chicago, Nicole from Fairbanks, the list goes one...so many wonderful people! I can't remember the last time I spent this much time with the same set of people only to be threatened with never seeing some of them again. It's a tad unsettling. I will miss my Agroecology
family but hope to stay in touch. We got lost in our daily routine and communal lifestyle making it seem like our little utopia away from reality would never end. But as sad as we are to leave, we are equally excited to take what we have learned and apply it in our careers, studies, farms, organizations, classrooms and next adventures. Every day I was inspired by a new career idea. In fact, I filled a whole page in my notebook with ideas ranging from building a food hub or starting a farm incubator program to building a local food council or handling the market distribution for organic farms. Now it's time to put boots on the ground and get to work.
If I could take one thing home with me, it would be the meals. Heavens to Betsies...the food was fantabulous! Every meal was a celebration both in spirit and in taste! I eat consciously and I'm a pretty good cook but at least once or twice a week, something happens in my diet which probably wasn't the best choice. The last two weeks, however, have been three meals a day made from the best and freshest ingredients. Mostly vegetarian, almost all local and in season but definitely organic. The kitchen staff took such good care of our bellies nourishing our souls and dazzling us with their creations. Click on the picture above to see how each meal was introduced by the kitchen staff
. One word...gratitude!
Before I load the "bus" to head home leaving summer camp behind, I think of where this course has brought me. We were trained in agroecology and we looked at it from every which direction. The concept has stayed the same but transformed into something much deeper. I see it in 3-D now. As Steve Gliessman, our course director, was wrapping up today with closing remarks, I sat trying to write a new definition which tied it all together. I came up with this: "AGROECOLOGY: Creating a biodiverse agricultural ecosystem while leveraging the interactions both within the ecosystem as well as the local community which will support a sustainable food system."As I sat editing and inserting new lines of text into my fancy definition, Steve flashed the best definition of all up on the screen... "AGROECOLOGY: Transformation of food systems to sustainability."
Done! Couldn't have said it better myself. Guess that's why he gets paid the big bucks! Thanks Steve and the entire staff at the Community Agroecology Network
Here is a picture from last Saturday's Indian curry meal with beet chutney. Mmmm Mmmm goodness!
The CAN girls on our last day of the course. We went wine tasting in the Santa Cruz backcountry...L-R: Katherine, Cara, Nicole, Laura, Christine, Nicole, Kristina and Christina.
Lots of musical talent. Here are the "The Nicoles." That's what we decided to call them since three are named Nicole.