After listening to local boy Will Dailey's too-short set, I wandered around the HOMEGROWN Village. The HOMEGROWN guy gave me an "In Farmers We Trust" pin and a sticker. As he described it, the site seems like a good onlne community/resource for consumers organic/local foods. If I don't find someone here to tell me how to preserve tomatoes, he said I might find it on HOMEGROWN -- or maybe leave the question for user feedback.
It was great to see so many concertgoers checking out the village. You could get a "Homegrown Passport" stamped at booths to enter a raffle. The cool part about the booths was the interactive fun. I didn't collect stamps, but I got my butt kicked at NOFA/Mass's "OrganicLand", which reminded me of CandyLand; unlike the sheer luck of the kid's game, I had to answer questions about organic farming. The other contestant knew her stuff, but I think could've beat her at arm-wrestling... They also had a map to find local farms that was interesting to how many more are nearby.
The Red Tomato women running the "Eco-Apple" game of chance could host a real game show -- or con tourists at Coney Island. They had people spin the 'wheel of farming' to see what would happen to the player's fictional apple crop. I found myself rooting for strangers to have a successful season.
I put my hands into boxes to "identify the produce"; I'm proud to report my ability to recognize a cabbage, basil, and lemongrass by touch and smell. When not making me put my hands in strange places, New Entry Sustainable Food Project provides assistance to small farmers in MA, and give advice/guidance to those who want to start farming.
Everyone was obviously very friendly -- without being pushy -- and generous about sharing about what they do. As a city-slicker who tries to be environmentally conscious, I felt somewhat ignorant walking around, but part of the purpose was to plant some awareness in my fallow head...
The folks from Cape Abilities Farm had a a small home of bumblebees that they use to pollinate their crops. He patiently explained to me that there are thousands of bee species and it's the honeybees that are having survival issues -- not bumblebees.
The most fun I saw was at the Greenhands/CitySprouts booth where everyone was invited to choose a variety of seeds and plunge their hands in compost and clay to make take-home balls to put somewher in the Spring. What a great bit of urban guerilla agriculture!
While waiting in line for an organic ale, I spoke to two lovely ladies from Albany. They have been to 6 Farm Aid concerts, and they loved the amount of things to do in the village. I also had a chance to talk to some farmers from Western Mass who helped me understand what it's like to provide quality food over quantity -- and to get to organic food all people. They're doing a good job of getting their products in stores that label the shelves with their "Be A Local Hero" signs. They also shared some delicious grapes with me. I could've spent the whole day, but I've want hear the bands...
(Thank you, Claire, for lending me your power cord to finish this post!)