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Hello! This is Kacey from Two Million Blooms, and I’m honored to be guest blogging for The Land Connection today!
Since graduating from the Central Illinois Farm Beginnings (CIFB) program, a lot has happened! Here's the skinny.
- Added 30 additional treatment-free hives
- Worked closely with a mentor
- Established a second apiary
- Harvested bucketloads of delicious, raw honey
- Became a vendor at the Champaign Farmers’ Market and hired a baker (my wife works cheap!)
That last point is one we’re particularly excited about and marked a significant milestone for us.
After getting our feet wet in a “collective” tent last season, we decided this was the year to establish our own presence. We determined to make it a family affair...aside from raw honey and some herbs, my wife would make her delicious, fresh-baked scones and cookies. As parents, we plan to use the venue as a way to cultivate the budding entrepreneurial spirit of our young girls. (Watch for the addition of honey sticks and beeswax products in the near future.)
We've been having some fun with military terminology in the office lately, with IED (Interim Executive Director) as a favorite. I'm going to add another one in -- more nautical in nature, and more encompassing of my current philosophy -- Steady as She Goes. That is my goal as Interim Executive Director -- not to blow things up, but instead to keep things on course and moving forward in the same direction.
It should be pretty much smooth sailing. In the year that I've been at The Land Connection, I've been consistently impressed with our outstanding staff, the quality of the programs we offer, and how we impact the community -- including through our farmer training programs and the Champaign Farmers' Market. That will not change in the short term (or the longer term), but I know that in times of transition there can be some anxiety when looking in from the outside.
Although my tenure at The Land Connection has been somewhat short, and not in a management role, I have an MBA and 20+ years of managing people and projects. I am humbled by the vote of confidence that I have received from our Board, from Cara, and from our staff. Furthermore, I have the rock-solid foundation that our previous Executive Directors have built, and amazing staff members to manage our programs.
Six years ago this fall I arrived in Champaign. I spent the winter wondering what could possibly be good about this place. Having lived most of my life on the coast of California, I just didn’t get it--was so cold, and SO flat. By spring, after months of being holed up inside, the cabin fever got to be almost too much, so I took to the internet figuring there must be SOMETHING to do here. And that is when I stumbled upon Breakfast on the Farm at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. The moment I stepped out of the car, I felt different. I’m quite serious when I say I got it that fast--I immediately understood that there was something here that I had not experienced yet, but that I needed to know more about. So after we ate breakfast and had our first visit with the baby goats, I walked up to Leslie Cooperband and introduced myself, and asked if I could PLEASE volunteer on the farm.
This week we feature a guest blog from Sally Writes with a look at the benefits of gardening as we age.
Maintaining quality of life is one of the biggest challenges for many aging adults. Quality of life includes not just one, but many facets of life. Mobility, loss of loved ones, and illness are all things that can impact the quality of one’s golden years. However, the isolation that can be a byproduct of all of the aforementioned factors, is perhaps the most overarching issues faced by the older population. The good news, is that a solution for isolation may be as close as your garden.
The Benefit of Green Spaces
"When they begiiiin Farm Beginnings..." (to the tune of Cole Porter's Begin the Begine) Oh how I love Farm Beginnings and Cole Porter, so why not mesh them!
With summer coming into full force, I am in full preparation mode for Farm Beginnings. This October will mark the 13th class of new farmers that The Land Connection has ushered into their new careers! It is such a privilege to help prepare new farmers for starting their local food businesses.
This year, I am planning some updates to the Farm Beginnings curriculum. Firstly, I am incorporating new activities for teaching financial record keeping. This summer, I had the opportunity to work with The Land Stewardship Project on a webinar on crafting balance sheets. This was a great experience and I uncovered some great materials to add to Farm Beginnings for this module.
Secondly, I plan to update our marketing module. This year staff members of The Land Connection have attended some wonderful conferences: Acres USA, Routes to Farm, Good Food Festival. And, this August, I will be traveling to Duluth, Minnesota for the summer gathering of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative. Marketing has been a hot topic at all of these gatherings and I will be incorporating some great ideas gleaned from these experiences to use in Farm Beginnings.
Somewhere between Cilantro and Coriander, there is a tasty jar of pickles
I’ve been with The Land Connection for a short time, but as of the beginning of July, I’m moving on from my position as the Program Director. It is an exciting time for me as I transition to this next step, but also a time for reflection and gratitude of all that I’ve gained by being a part of The Land Connection family. Being the Program Director for this extremely unique organization has been an incredible pleasure, and it has been great working with The Land Connection team – staff, board, collaborators, partners and network. I’ve learned so much about the world of sustainable agriculture, increasing access to local foods, and the very BEST recipes for using these delicious delicacies :) I’ve grown tremendously in this position and learned a lot about myself along the way. I will always be a supporter and champion of sustainable agriculture and local foods, and will continue to support these efforts at The Land Connection and in our community.
This week I'm starting my blog out with a brag, because I am still blown away by our second Triple Link Tuesday promotion last week at the Champaign Farmers' Market (read more about how SNAP benefits work at the market here). We gave out more matching funds in one afternoon than we did in our entire first season (which was 26 afternoons).
Establishing a new farmers' market is not an easy endeavour, and your hopes can get crushed from time to time, so to see a major part of the market take off in such a way is truly exciting. Particularly when it comes to a program that's helping people afford good food. From a market manager's perspective, what more beautiful sight is there a good hour before closing than sparse tables that didn't start out that way...
Guest blog by Sally Writes (www.shieldmysenior.com)
Many of us can probably remember those days outside as young children when we’d get our hands and feet dirty in the soil of our gardens without rhyme or reason. The garden is a place where small pleasure can be found; in growing our very own plants, we can feel like we are contributing to the natural beauty around us and helping the environment blossom.
As we grow older, gardening can seem like more of a daunting task, as it is not so easy to bend down and dig in the dirt as we once could. However, there are a number of helpful tips and safety measures for senior citizens that can make gardening just as fun and easy as any other outdoor activity.
Handy Tools for an Elderly Green-Thumb
One of the difficulties that may seem insurmountable as a senior citizen hoping to garden is the ability to bend down and be on your knees while tending to your plants. However, there are several tools for elderly gardeners that can make gardening seem easy again.