Many years ago I was in my first year in college. There was an organization on campus that called it’s self “Web of Life”. They were our local eco group. I found it interesting to attend a meeting or two and see what they were all about. I had little or no experience with environmental activism or even environmental issues. This was the fall of 95 and while I was an environmental science student I really had no background in environmental issues. I was very interested in understanding how the environment worked. I am still learning but I can see how interconnected things really are. I knew that we had some serious issues in this country but I did not know what they really were and what could be done to solve them. I loved nature and it really bothered me when people littered and dumped waste.
Fast forward to 2005 and I was sitting in a interview for a research lab at Washington University in St. Louis. That lab had posters on the wall about recycling tip boxes and cardboard. I was brought back to the newness of my first semester in college and how I was so excited to learn and do great things. Turns out I got the job and for the next 8 years at Washington University we did great things. The more important lesson I learned was that a group of small dedicated individuals can in fact change the world. I learned how far environmental concerns had come and how industry and academics were coming together to find solutions.
Yesterday I went to a field day hosted by Iowa organic association. The topic was chicken meat processing on the farm. Murray McMurray hatchery then hosted a demonstration on processing meat birds. The presentation and discussion were excellent. The networking was amazing and the organization was well represented. What does this have to do with anything?
Well since we have begun this journey we have realized how difficult it is to do these things without support. Whether it be regulatory assistance, education, networking, or numerous other aspects of agriculture that I never even considered. I have found that every state does have resources available, and people that are extremely willing and wanting to help. One of the first places that I have found to help in so many aspects of a country transition is your local county extension, since we are in Iowa, Iowa State Extension. They even have other aspects like small acreage, local foods, soil testing, water testing etc etc. If they do not know the regulations they can help put you in contact with those that help.
If you are interested in livestock in Iowa you should get in touch with Coalition to support farmers. If your interested in organics then Iowa organic association is a great resource and if your interested in a pretty amazing farmer community and resource Practical Farmers which have provided field days, networking, education, farminars, webinars, and many others. I will be writing more about the coalition and practical farmers in the future.