Happy February! So what do you think my honeybees are up to these days? From what I’ve read, they’re not hibernating. Even in cold Midwestern temps—and we’ve had plenty of that this year—those little sweethearts are busy in their hives clustering together, fluttering their wings and energizing themselves with honey, all in the name of protecting the queen. Amazingly, bees keep the inside of their cluster a toasty 80-90°F.
Of course, I can’t open the hive because cold air would immediately zap them all. Instead, I go out each day, brush away the occasional dead bee that’s been kicked out and wait until spring to know if my community has survived. For me, only a second-year beekeeper, this is the quiet season.
I work with many people who are also in the quiet season. Seemingly so, anyway, because they too are busy behind the scenes. My farmer clients are hunkered down with seed catalogs and educational conferences, like the MOSES Organic Farming Conference, for which I was again proud to design. It definitely isn’t the quiet season for the MOSES team—not with their big event coming in just three short weeks. They put on the largest conference of its kind in the U.S., so if you’re into organic and sustainable agriculture, be sure to attend. It’s over the moon (an apt but pun-ish descriptor in light of last night’s Super Blue Blood Moon).
My Wormfarm Institute clients, Donna and Jay, are currently in Mexico, researching exciting food and art for this fall’s Fermentation Fest (last year’s mezcal class and dinner were huge successes). Both these non-profits could not exist without continuous outreach for funding and exposure. It’s hard, skillful work and Donna is a master. Her efforts were recently rewarded with recognition in an upcoming publication by Americans for the Arts.
It’s the quiet season for Adunate too. Quiet, but, again, busy behind the scenes. I’ve been marketing, marketing, marketing—a fact of life for every business. One of my goals for 2018 is to target the female ag industry. In her book Soil Sisters, author Lisa Kivirist describes the growing number of women farmers and how they’re changing the face of American agriculture.
“New women farmers are primarily starting small-scale, diversified, locally focused and family-run operations, bucking the corporate agriculture trend of fewer small family farms and more consolidation,” says Kivirist.
For the most part, those USDA-subsidized corporate farms are producing just corn and soybeans for animal feed or fuel. Contrast that with women farmers who raise a diversity of crops going directly from their farm to a family’s table. Or a school cafeteria. Or a senior health community. They’re sustaining their land and giving back to the soil. Can you see the nurturing going on here? These are the caring people with whom I want to work.
Speaking of books…
Here’s what I’m reading these days (and yes, I’m dabbling in all four—it’s the quiet season, after all). Some of them are great reads about food, land and business. Others will help me to help you market your products. Give me a call!
- Braiding Sweetgrass: This one drew my attention because it it melds the spiritual and scientific aspects of nature. I’ve long been a proponent of both, like say, gardening by the moon (there’s that moon again!). God created an awesome earth and, of course, every part of it is connected.
- Articulating Design Decisions: Many times the customer doesn’t understand the designer’s reason for a design. Often designers, ahem, me, have trouble articulating their reasons. This book is well-written, easy to read, and in many ways is applicable to anyone who talks about their product. I wish I’d read this twenty years ago!
- An Unlikely Vineyard: I want to take a road trip to Vermont! This is both a life story and how-to for restoring the land and building an eight-acre vineyard. She beautifully speaks of terroir, essence of place, and the meditation of cultivation.
- Gastrophysics: Did you know there’s a science to enjoying your food? Things like what color plate it’s served on or what sounds are playing in the background? This covers our five senses and how they affect our perception of food. One reviewer named it a manual for restaurants. I think it’s great for anyone who markets food.
So there you have it, some happenings in this seemingly quiet season. Stay warm, be healthy and keep busy!