Many years ago in Camden, New Jersey, an instructor told a group of technicians being trained on the latest and greatest Video technology that he was convinced most of the learning happened in the coffee breaks.
And so it was again in Decorah at Heritage Farm July 16-19. Oh, the talks, tours and all that were informative and even inspirational.... I'll get around to that eventually. But unless you've been to something like this, where everybody shares what you thought was a unique and somewhat weird obsession, it's hard to explain. I met a number of people I'd seen on my past two trips, and renewed old war stories. Hopefully I was better company this time; the first trip was not long after major changes, ranging from wonderful to awful.
The farm itself has grown hugely, due to a big chunk of adjoining land purchased last year, and there's a new reception center about to go up by the entrance road.... I saw the huge pile of oak beams that would have framed it in, were it not for the monsoons...but there is a concrete pad to mark the spot.
Lots of expanded plantings, including several _acres_ of garlic! I walked along the end of the rows, meeting old friends and new.... Chesnok Red, German White..... more trails for walking, and a new memorial bench for sitting under a big white oak. The more formally religious will have to work on that forgiveness thing, but God is a lot closer under such a tree than in a huge cathedral with "smells and bells."
The keynote speaker was David Kline, an Amish dairy farmer from Ohio.... a very practical guy, who lives very simply and makes a very respectable living while taking time to write. The big thing I learned about his world is that the eight-grade education the plain folk consider sufficient is by no means the end. They're avid readers, and they really do practice life-long learning.
A Frenchman spoke on the difficulties of seed saving and selling non-standard vegetables in the European Union, and especially in France, where things are regulated to an insane degree. I hope we never get there in the U.S. but **politics warning** when I see what has happened to the U.S. Constitution recently, I fear it could. Good for Big Business; Bad for Everybody Else.
I came away from that talk with a resolve to better manage and test my own seed collection; it looks like a vaguely subversive deed these days, and we could use more of them. To steal and compress a favorite song: "If one person does it, they'll think you're a nut.........if a whole lot of people do it, they'll think it's a movement..."
I did a number of stops on the way out to Decorah and back; my odometer says I might as well have driven to San Francisco. But all good this time: good friends, beautiful scenes, and I got to pump the bellows of an old Tracker organ once played by Antonin Dvorak!
Simultaneous bad and good news: No pictures, owing to a hard disk disaster that was mostly self-induced, with only a little help from Bill G.
My personal page is moving, somewhat erratically to a new and more competent ISP. URL in the .sig below. Garlic spreadsheet being updated as I dig/wash/dry.
Gary Woods AKA K2AHC- PGP key on request, or at home.earthlink.net/~gwoods Zone 5/6 in upstate New York, 1420' elevation. NY WO G