The AgChat Foundation has now held conferences in Chicago, Nashville, Kansas City, Charlotte, NC, Portland, OR, Austin and most recently Spokane, WA. The greatness of these events can be attributed to fabulous keynote speakers such as Bruce Vincent, sessions from basic Twitter to relationship building to conflict management, tours of grocers such as Whole Foods and wheat mills and finally, the ever popular, interactive consumer panels. Above all, it is the networking and attendees which put our conferences in the excellence category. I’d like to share a reflection following the recent 2015 Pacific Northwest Agvocacy conference.
There is no argument about the disconnect between consumers and their food. It clearly exists for everyone. One observation which became evident is that the intensity of the disconnect varies greatly from region to region in the U.S. The pacific northwest is a prime example. There are stringent battle lines which have been drawn, by consumers several generations removed from the farm as well as farmers and ranchers who are fighting for their legacies. Couple those lines with the challenges faced by governmental land management and sharing your story of farming or ranching might look like an up-hill ride.
The issues which exist in the pacific northwest are vast and agriculture is extremely diverse. Bringing growers together allowed for stressors to be shared rather than held up by one person. As we all networked and chatted during the PNW event, there was a similar message that was heard multiple times.
“I’m so glad I connected with you. I’ve felt so alone.”
In that short two-day event, the relationships which were formed are providing inspiration and collaborations. Attendees now have a reachable mentoring group who can relate to the challenges they face in telling their stories of farming and ranching. Witnessing these conversations was a reminder of why the AgChat Foundation exists. It serves as a connecting point for agvocates to share and support one another. To ask for or provide advice. It is also a reminder that even if you haven’t attended an event yet, there are other opportunities to connect with other agvocates. You are not alone. I challenge you to reach out to at least one of these channels this week and share with friends and family who are also agvocating:
- AgChat Foundation Facebook page
- #AgChat Facebook group
- Join an #AgChat Twitter conversation every Tues., 7-9pmCT, (except for the third Tues. of the month) or stop in for our monthly #FoodChat conversation and interact with farmers, ranchers and consumers
- Follow @agchat, @agchatfound and @foodchat on Twitter
- Visit the homepage and request our e-newsletter
- Reach out to a board member
- Finally, watch for the official announcement of ACF’s 2015 National Agvocacy conference. Details will be revealed on May 21st.
We sincerely hope that the event provided the desired conduit to connect all of the attendees who are advocating for agriculture in the pacific northwest and beyond. You are the AgChat Foundation and the resources and network are at your finger tips.
Jenny serves as the AgChat Foundation Executive Director while helping manage her family’s small hobby farm and jumping in when possible on her in-laws farm in central Illinois. In addition to AgChat.org, she can be found blogging at TheMagicFarmHouse where she shares about life on their farm while connecting with boy moms, food allergy parents, hunters and more. She loves deer hunting and avoids housekeeping when possible. You can connect with her on Facebook or tweet her on Twitter.