Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

Well, I have shifted to part-time as Process Control Engineer at Rowe Foundry. Apparently, this is a pretty unprecedented option I was given. I have referred to the foundry as being Christian and having Christian values before, but I truly get to experience it first hand now. And the security combined with opportunity for the food hub…priceless. Continue reading

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The Farm Bill, the Produce Rule, and Illiana Ag Alliance

The Four Hour Workday…. 

I have published elsewhere about my being referred to this book (thanks L.A.). I listened to the YouTube audio a few times, learning and forgetting to listen equally. The truth is that the lessons I gleaned may or may not have been those intended. Patience and…well, that is about all I remember. I still am not that guy that can stop the grinding of the brain-gears easily, but doing the right thing helped.

Before I go into a lot of detail about the Agriculture Act of 2014 and how it impacts the movement here, I must make a confession: I tried to walk away again. I did. I also failed…those gears are connected to my heart somehow. There is more to the story than that: My son was born prematurely, I landed a great career position in my hometown…many personal occurrences…and yet, I am here blogging with a smile. I still have a duty and an amended plan on fulfilling said duty.

To quickly summarize the reference to the proposed Produce Rule: It’s perfect…at least from my vantage point. Perfect, however, is to be interpreted as “the best that one could hope for when others with varying agendas are involved.” All of the major aspects of the proposed rule were covered in their entirety by the GAPs Training provided by the University of Illinois Extension last year. Illiana Ag Alliance is poised to exceed all requirements!

The above link to the 959-page Farm Bill is…dull reading? I have not yet parsed down the exact verbiage. National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition summarizes and breaks down the bill well. I will leave the reading of the synopsis to those interested in following the preceding link. I will instead focus on what is going on here currently, what is probable, what has changed, and what is still standing strong from the preliminary plans that have developed and evolved over time….

Setting up/keeping shop in Casey, Illinois, is changed. This is almost home…a mere six miles away. However, it’s the people and the municipality that spur the change. It’s the school system, the town’s dynamic, and the fact that the town of 1,300 individuals is where it all started for me. Mostly, it is the fact that Martinsville, Illinois is my home at heart. Shortly, it will be my home by location, also….

I will begin expounding here, with the forthcoming 6-mile move. As some may know, my new career position is with a family-owned company that has been a cornerstone of Martinsville’s economy and sustainability since 1898–providing fair wages, implementing a system of impeccable ethics, and offering an opportunity for many successes within, outside of…and very much in line with Illiana Ag Alliance’s goals today. We share values, and that is irreplaceable.

I had not yet read about this Farm Bill (truthfully, I had no clue that one was finally nearing completion) until today. However, it seems that legislators heard my prayers in so many ways. A Farm-to-School Pilot may be the best part. I have already spoken with a School Board member and two teachers, and I hope that a presentation is able to be added to the next Board Meeting Agenda following my request.

Other initiatives, such as expanding local food initiatives to include aggregators, are great to read about. The NSAC synopsis (above) mentions a grocery initiative. Leonard, the owner of Martinsville’s grocery store, is prepared to ally with Illiana Ag Alliance as a provider of source-identified local foods. There are still the other 20+ local/regional grocers and ? restaurants that desire local, sustainable food…but the in-town option helps fill the void left by the recent absence of a Clark County Farmer’s Market. Markets outside of Clark County and adjoining Counties are now in the “local melon/pumpkin-only” category insofar as planning is concerned for the forthcoming season.

I heard about the signing of the Farm Bill on my return trip to what I hope is to be my family’s new home in Martinsville. (The seller is also quite interested in furthering the local food movement). Our potential home sits on two lots…one with the house and room for a greenhouse, and one with an approximately 40’x100′ machine shed. Yes, a machine shed…destined to be the aggregation and wholesale distribution point for local foods. How? Truthfully, I’m not sure. I can tell you a million possibilities, a handful of probabilities, and some definites. Instead, I will wait for the next City Council meeting before I post more. It’s still in a “Don’t count your chickens….” stage today. The short story is that a Public/Private Cooperative is to be explored. The City was willing to assist the former Farmer’s Market in almost any way, so hopes are high!

So much is missing from this post: the most local Amish community is moving away, there are many new (very local) growers, the “Seeds and Starts Campaign” is about to begin, Organic Initiatives, invitations, and so very much more. Many events are destined without dates, what is to come and what is planned always evolve…and yet it is time to bring this local–where it all began.

At this second, however, I’m off to bed. 2:45 AM comes awfully early nowadays. The next step? Well, beyond the previous highlights, procuring the other 75% of the money to purchase the home and building outright–for roughly half of its value. This means I have a lot of research and number-crunching to do quickly, while exceeding the expectations of my new position AND keeping my family life in order…but the financial outlook is so much better than when I was trying to single-handedly change the local food system mere months ago. A modestly healthy revenue stream and expanded self-imposed timeline bring much opportunity and relief!

In short, Illiana Ag Alliance and the Burson Family are alive, well, and poised to fulfill our duty. Stumbling is again giving way to opportunity, insight, and refreshed vigor!

Live well…and until next time!

 

Truly Not for Profit? The New Locavore Letters!

Yesterday morning, I took the time to glance at my few hundred newest emails. One of these emails was a simple update to a very simple feed/email campaign that I follow. I do not remember the title of the feed, but I am often influenced by the content. The young author made a point that I needed to hear–if I’m going to be of any assistance at all to the local food movement. “Quit waiting for perfection and just do it.”–that was the essence of the message.

Well, I can relate his statement, at least somewhat, to my efforts. I will always be a hopeless perfectionist, but I cannot allow that to get in the way of my duties. Therefore, if I am in a bit of a hurry and a grammatical error, etc., it apparent, please overlook it. If any suggestions arise, please share.

If the reader has not yet noticed, the top of this page states that it is Brian’s Personal Blog. I have tried to change that many times, yet it seems that I always get sidetracked with options and alternatives provided through the wonderful, new-to-me platform called WordPress. Maybe that is good, because I have decided that it will now be just that–my personal blog and more.

I believe that I have outlined the intention of the separate blogs somewhere before, but I will recount a few the initial ideas and suggestions vs. the changes quickly.

Initially, I was going to have three blogs (reference the links), one for consumers and the general public (this one), one for local Food Hubs and burgeoning Food Hubs, and one for farmers/producers. I intended to form “Locavore Letters” as a 501(c)3 (a type of non-profit), and charge/request donations for each–appropriate for the time resources and information provided.

The consumer-oriented “letter” was to be free, with the intent of informing the general populace of the value of supporting local foods, the economic development that would be inherent with the formation of networked Food Hubs, seasonal recipes, etc. In other words, the blog would be intended to expand the local consumer-driven demand for local and sustainable foods.

I ran into a problem with this–consumers are (hopefully) the next producers in some cases, some burgeoning Food Hubs are not yet structured, many producers may well be unwilling or unable to pay anything for the services/information provided, and I may not be able to stick to a predetermined schedule for releasing the information. I am human: I have family and work obligations, I attend college full-time, and anything resembling another deadline is just too much to take on right now. Instead, I will just do my best within my bounds. Another issue is that Farm-to-School and School Gardens are totally ignored when a separation of blogs occurs–at least insofar as true realization of their community formation is concerned.

Regarding the non-profit status, following up on that idea would open up a great many opportunities…and take yet more time. I do not know all of the intricacies involved despite my attempts to take the time to learn. Likewise, the closest allies (geographically and via shared values) in this movement are not in much of a position to take on additional responsibilities. I have dropped the idea of forming a new structure–for today, at least.

Moreover, it has been suggested that I focus on ten areas of information to provide to burgeoning and proposed Food Hubs locally. How do I choose a mere ten when I have access to hundreds of areas of information that are completely relevant and necessary to the local foods, Food Hub, and School Gardens movements? (In my personal opinion, they are one and the same as far as prioritization).

I could go on and on regarding the potential barriers to the original idea behind Locavore Letters. To shorten it–it would not be as effective in seeing the realization of my passion as would the newest idea, yet another evolution/devolution/change within the business dubbed Illiana Ag Alliance.

Locavore Letters will not be any type of entity, in and of itself. Illiana Ag Alliance is already a legal business, organized as a sole proprietorship, and Locavore Letters shall remain a service of the business–a FREE service, with the opportunity to pay for value given.

Free? Yes, I said free. Obviously, I agree with the person that suggested a small initial charge for a weekly newsletter and a nominal fee for specific research, if requested. The sheer number of hours I have spent and continue to spend in pursuit of a balanced, sustainable, altruistic, and profitable local foods movement may well demand recompense. Of course my family deserves such, as they have suffered the most in my “obsession” (my wife’s words), which I see more as a “passion.” Maybe I am lost in a “passionate obsession?” Regardless of semantics, I see something that must be done, and I am willing to do what I identify as my part…my duty. I do not demand recompense; instead, I long for realization of that which I have given so much to see accomplished.

What is “my part?” Broadly, it is to support the local foods movement here. “Here” is somewhat flexible and broadly defined (or better yet, not defined). I live near the East Central Illinois, Southern Illinois, Western Indiana, and Southwestern Indiana intersection. My specific research and personal knowledge are geared toward this area, yet much is universal throughout many regions of the U.S….maybe even beyond our borders.

More specifically, I will share my knowledge and resources freely. For now, this will be the medium, with different posts placed under their respective categories.

Originally, I was going to use RSS feeds to pull the most recent post from each category on this blog into MailChimp, or maybe into one of the foreign programs in the top-of-the-line Office Suite that I just purchased…yet I’m ignorant of how to accomplish this. I know what RSS feeds are, but I do not know how to create one. I tried for a short while, to no avail. I will learn someday–it has piqued my curiosity. However, for now, I will use this blog. I think it can be effective, at least at first.

Most likely, I will redirect the two other blogs that I have created toward this one, as well. The only reason that I will not delete them immediately is due to the fact that I have used them as “websites” when I registered with the NGFN as a TA Provider. I wish for those looking for assistance to find what I have to offer.

I cannot make any promises as to when, or how often, I will be able to make updates. I know very little about WordPress, and my time resources are divided in a great many directions.

In the interest of updating this stagnant blog, I will post what I have typed at this time. I will then create a page that briefly explains the relevant background of myself and the evolution of the Food Hub that is legally formed as “Illiana Ag Alliance.”

There will be a third page created also, either today or in the future. I do not expect or ask for anything to be done with this page unless/until something of value to the reader is divulged. That page is going to include two things.

The first of two options on the third page will be a link to an online Crowdfunding platform. I need to update that platform, as equity and/or free products are not an option at this time. (Beyond a minimal amount of physical assistance in marketing product in order to fulfill promises, Illiana Ag Alliance is now merely an online platform–almost relegated to an “idea.”)

The second listing on that page will be my personal address. The reason behind the divulging of my address is for payments–if/when a person or entity has received knowledge of value, has the means, and has the desire to support the continuance of the platform. I say “payments” as opposed to “donations” because I’m taking the easy route with this. As a sole proprietorship (a company owned by a single person), there are expenses and revenues to be accounted for. By utilizing the crowdfunding platform, these payments are traceable, for a fee on Illiana Ag Alliance’s end. By sending checks made out to the company, including “Locavore Letters” in the memo, I can also keep track of revenues, but will not incur the fee.

One last thought: Each update of this kind, which does not neatly fall into a distinct category, will be categorized as “Updates.” Should a post be intended for a specific topic, it will be categorized as “Updates” and the topic (or topics) that it represents.

I will attempt again to add a Contact Form. Should any reader have feedback to offer, please feel free to do so. This may well be the best method to request specific information, as well. Time will tell, and I have learned to always expect change!