Published Dec 9, 2014

The Hunger To Experiment

By Teresa Opheim

Wendy JohnsonThe following are the closing remarks made at the 2014 PFI Cooperators’ Meeting by Wendy Johnson, who farms near Charles City.

“After a PFI Cooperators’ Meeting, it seems I go home with more questions and ideas than when I came. But I think that’s a good thing. Wrapping my head around the concepts and design implementation sometimes seems like a daunting task, but I always know where to look for guidance—and that is all of you and the PFI staff.

“As a beginning farmer, I am amazed at the amount of curiosity that exists within the PFI membership. I suppose that is the very foundation upon which PFI was built.

[Last night at dinner, we went around the room and shared what we are curious about.] “As the exercise proved, every single one of us is hungry –well, we love the good wholesome food we get at PFI events, that’s a given –but I am talking about the hunger for more information, to experiment, to want to become better stewards of the land and the treatment of animals and just be all-around better at farming.

“You know, I wish I was as eloquent and witty as John Gilbert, who gave the meeting’s opening remarks. Maybe one day, it may come with experience…. But one of his points I’d like to reiterate is humility. You all have it. You are out there trying things, questioning things, tweaking things, making on-farm adjustments to not only better your farm, your life, yourself, but also to help better others by sharing. Age and experience are not variables. And you’re willing to fail and learn from those failures, and share those failures and successes. And that takes humility.

“From one beginning farmer’s perspective, I am in awe at the amount of curiosity, respect, generosity and humility that I am surrounded by when I come to a PFI event. So I want to thank you—for inspiring and keeping that hunger alive—for practicing humility totally unconsciously.

“I know that all of you will go on your way today hungry—and as a beginning farmer—this gives me hope for the future of agriculture and my place in it.

“Thank you.”