February is coming!

February is coming, and with it a whole lot of activity on a whole lot of different levels!

At the national level, word is that there is a new farm bill that is likely to make it’s way through congress within the next couple of weeks. As a vegetable farmer, my sense is that there is very little that will affect me directly. As an Iowan, an environmentalist, a member of the Iowa Farmers Union, and a human – there are quite a few things that will affect me. Overall I’m glad to see that the bill is moving forward and will continue to support both people who need to eat (through SNAP) as well as people who produce the food.

At the state level, the Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference was last week. It was my first PFI conference, even though I’ve been to enough events over the past year that I feel like I know everyone (almost!) who was there. Ok- so that’s a stretch. But they’re all such great people that if you don’t know someone, you just start a conversation with them and soon that’s taken care of. Highlights included Susan Jutz (my mentor) receiving the Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award (PDF), Andy Dunham (another mentor) talking about Weathering the Weather, and Laura Krouse (another mentor) talking about growing potatoes. There was also a “short course” the two half-days before the conference on holistic management – focusing on how people – farmers especially – need to look beyond only the business plan to find the things that they really want out of life and to make sure that short-term decisions are aligned with that. It reminded me very much of my research work in Sweden – backcasting from desired futures, creativity within constraints, and so on –  and the masters programs (strategic leadership – MSLS and sustainable product innovation – MSPI) that are currently accepting applications to join them in the fall of this year!

At the local (farm) level – I’m just finishing up what may be the most complicated taxes ever… the combination of having been in Sweden last January, starting a consulting business to continue some academic work independently, starting a farm, and some short-term capital gains…. well, it got interesting! Between that and the PFI conference, not a lot of farm work has been done over the past week. And tomorrow I’ll head to Florida for a few days – while I’m currently cash-poor, I’m points rich thanks to some strategic use of credit cards and several years of flying to/from Sweden! Hopefully I’m going far enough south to see the 70’s. I’d still rather be going fishing this summer, but the life of a vegetable farmer doesn’t allow for summer vacations, at least not at this stage of the game.

For now, I think you should contemplate kale – and the four dishes suggested over at DM Juice. If it gets you thinking about summer veggies like I hope it does – consider joining our CSA this summer to get your weekly box of fresh produce!

One of the kale pictures from dmjuice:
The Winterset Salad Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at at The Cafe in Ames.