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Lamb burgers build community

Wendy started our circle of introductions after we ate a bountiful meal. She shared our cooperator's program tradition having all tell fellow attendees what they were curious about.

Wendy started our circle of introductions after we ate a bountiful meal. She shared our cooperator’s program tradition having all tell fellow attendees what they were curious about. Photo courtesy of Steve Strasheim.

Last Sunday the Worley kids and I were able to go to board vice-president Wendy Johnson, her husband Johnny Rafkin and their daughter Vivienne’s social they held on their JOIA Food Farm near Charles City. About 40 people came together this beautiful Sunday afternoon to share food and conversation.

Wendy said during her introduction: “We like to host socials to bring people together to realize PFI’s mission, vision and values of building community and celebrating agriculture. We are a farmer-led, member-led organization and feel it’s important for members to get together, get to know one another and build community. Socials are also a way to grow membership and celebrate agricultural diversity, stewardship and ecology.”

3-year-old Vivienne, right, showed the Worley kids all the many species of animals on the farm, including pigs, cats, dog, turkeys, chickens, sheep, and llama

3-year-old Vivienne, right, showed the Worley kids all the many species of animals on the farm, including pigs, cats, dog, turkeys, chickens, sheep, and llama

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Lamb burgers really DO create community—Johnny grilled lamb burgers from lambs they raised. They were delicious and worth traveling to get! Other attendees brought fresh dishes made from food they raised or purchased from local farmers. Late August is a great time of year to attend a PFI potluck!

Practical Farmers of Iowa has in its strategic plan to hold 15 socials each year.

Why focus time and energy providing space and meals for people to get to know each other?

Our members come to Practical Farmers of Iowa to learn how to improve their farms, and we organize many farmer-led learning—88 opportunities to date in 2016.

Darrin Enderton introduced himself and talked about his and Arlene's Apples on the Avenue Orchard near Nashua. What he is curious about: How to market chemical-free apples that are delicious but marred by sooty blotch and flyspeck. These pesky disease only create cosmetic damage but affect sales.

Darin Enderton introduced himself and talked about his and Arlene’s Apples on the Avenue Orchard near Nashua. What he is curious about: How to market chemical-free apples that are delicious but marred by sooty blotch and flyspeck. These pesky diseases only create cosmetic damage but affect sales.

Luke and Sally Gran provided music for the social. Thanks Luke and Sally!

Luke and Sally Gran provided music for the social. Thanks Luke and Sally!

However, our members recognize community-building is just as important. Farming, especially when you are continuously asking questions to make improvements, is hard work. Building camaraderie with other farmers and non-farming supporters creates an essential network of friends and mentors.

So far this year, Practical Farmers of Iowa has held 22 socials, and more are scheduled!

This Sunday, August 28, Gil and Ardyth Gillespie at hosting a potluck at their Harrisdale Farmstead in Atlantic. PFI board member Vic Madsen will be there, will you? More details here.

Thursday, September 15, Joe and Judy Olsen and Buchanan County ISU Extension and Outreach are hosting a social including two garden tours and a potluck in Independence. I hope to see you there! More details here.

Do you want to build community in your part of the state? If so, email me at [email protected] or call (515) 232-5661 and let me know. We will make it easy on you by helping you set date and location, advertising your event and providing a stipend for a main dish or snacks.

Upcoming social hosts Gil and Ardyth Gillespie

Upcoming social hosts Gil and Ardyth Gillespie

Upcoming social hosts Joe and Judy Olsen

Upcoming social hosts Joe and Judy Olsen

Thank you for helping us build our community!

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