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8th Annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference
"If you are not growing you are dying." - Ellen G. White (paraphrased)
This is one of my favorite quotes. The author preceeds by saying we are much like plants and when we are not growing we are dying. But the author adds that this is the same for our mental and spiritual capacities as well as our physical. I find that there are few better ways to grow as a human being then to spend time with people from a variety of backgrounds.
This weekend we were blessed to participate for our 5th year now in the 8th Annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference. This was also my 2nd year on the planning committee and 2nd year as a presenter. It is such a rewarding experience to be surrounded by people from all over the world speaking many many languages but who all acknowledge and crave a connection to the land. For these farmers it is not about trends or politics or ideals that brings them to the land it is about survival. They understand that without this personal connection they would somehow be less then who they were meant to be. That's why they come to this country as refugees and immigrants--citizens at the lower end of the totem pole if we are honest with ourselves as a country. And then they chose to enter a professional that is not known for it's financial security.
Along the way they face language and cultural barriers certainly and sometimes discrimination and racism. But they do it because that is who they are.
This year the conference included farmers from Africa, Asia, Central and South America. And there were alot of young farmers. As the USDA acknowledges that the average age of farmers is aging at a fast rate, there are at least some young people interested in farming. Here are some pictures from a great weekend.
Glen Hill, Executive Director, Minnesota Food Association, Ly Vang, Executive Director for the Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women, Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture, Dave Fredrickson, State Senator Foung Hawj, after the welcome on Saturday.
Farmers visiting booths to learn more about resources, funding, organic certification and more.
Aaron Blythe showing farmers a hand transplanter from Japan.
Hmong farmer getting a close up view of t he transplanter.
The conference is held the 1st weekend in February in St. Paul.