CFAR: Session 1, August 16 - 20, 2021
At White Oak Pastures, we've considered ourselves "operational" with regards to what we bring to the Good Food movement. We take great pride in doing things, and we understand that educational is far from our wheelhouse. In fact, Will Harris used to say, "those who can do, and those who can't teach." Well, this isn't the first time we've said something wrong, and it won't be the last. There is an art to education, helping those from all parts of the world with different backgrounds understand and see value in any one thing. And, quite frankly, we struggled accomplish this.
We started transitioning White Oak Pastures to a softer, more gentler type of system in the mid-1990's, and we've been making changes ever since. But somewhere along the way, we realized that we operated differently than so many others. We were awkward in size, (much) smaller than the big guys, but larger than the backyard farmers. We were complex, vertically integrating so many parts of our food system. And, we learned that these complexities give us resilience. And, we saw so many folks go into the regenerative agriculture education business, having little real world experience. So many of these speakers, writers, and enthusiasts so quickly called attention to the great life lived by those of us working closely with Nature, but they failed miserably in sharing the hardships and risks endured to get there. Aspiring farmers won't know about the hardships unless we, those of us who have dedicated their lives to this kind of farming, don't tell them. Consumers won't be willing to pay more for food raised in this way if we don't show them why it costs more to produce it.
The Center for Agricultural Resilience was established to do just this, rethink the food system, pull back the curtain of agriculture and how it affects our families, our soil, our food and our future.
For our inaugural session, we invited Understanding Ag's Doug Peterson to present a soils class. We also relied on Tre Cates of nRhythm to moderate these big vision conversation to keep participants engaged. We were also grateful to have Nick de Vries of Silicon Ranch attend CFAR as a participant, but also share details on Solar Grazing, a partnership between Silicon Ranch and White Oak Pastures where the vegetation under the panels is managed by livestock. Maria Soledad Perez, Agency 21, prepared a special and delicious farm fresh feast. Last but not least, the White Oak Pastures management team + directors played a big part in taking these big picture frameworks and relating them back to White Oak Pastures 30+ year journey to this type of farming.
Session one was one for the books. The participants not only left with a clear vision on rethinking the food system and how it applied to their industries, but also contacts that they might not have gained otherwise.
If you have interest in attending a CFAR session, please visit this page to apply.