You knew this was coming.............

Background ..... The powers that be in the city of Davenport decided on Monday to give their full support to this project.

In the meantime, a steering committee of some 20-odd people (not 20 odd  people ... there are people that I don't know too well yet. :) I'll make that decision later!) has been formed to work out the details of the project.  And it is a huge project. 

It includes the expansion of the current extremely successful Freight House Farmers Market, the development of a food hub, a permanent retail food venue, class room space, commercial kitchen, banquet facilities and a  food cooperative.  Now ... these ideas take time to develop so don't engrave any of these statements in stone ... saying that Miss Eff says this was going to happen!

The steering committee is made of city employees, bankers, Extension professionals, grant writers, foodies and farmers.  And yes .... I'm on it.  And yes ..... I'm talking.

My income is based on the sale of locally-raised  flowers, herbs, eggs, and locally made jams, hand-spun yarn and hand-knitted items.  All planted, watered, weeded and picked with my two hands.  My hands!!!!

I live, breath and die local.  If you have read this blog at all .... you know that!

First ..... a definition .... a market farmer is one that grows fruits and vegetables for sale, often directly  to the consumer.  

This differs from a traditional farmer that grows corn and soybeans than are sold to the local elevator or at the river.

Today ... when I say farmer ... I am talking about a market farmer.

BUT  I know the limiting factors to our local farmers.  Farm land in Scott county is the most expensive farm land in Iowa.......... average cost per acre $6500. 

We have laws on the books in Scott County limiting the land you can buy.  You can't buy 5 acres to build a house.  It is to protect family farms and our very precious farmland ... which is a good thing.  But it also is a deterring factor as far as bringing in new young market farmers into our area.  I wouldn't buy 5-10 acres to market farm when I couldn't build a house on it.  Driving to a separate market farm is hard ... too much work to do ... too many hours.

The average age of Iowa farmers ... today, is 58.  Fifty eight!!!!  We've had an AARP card for a few years.... Honey is looking at Medicare in five years.  If I was a traditional farmer, you could not convince me .... at the age of 58 ..... to get out of my combine and take 5 acres and turn it into a market farm!!!! 

I would love more land to diversify .... I would love to have shrubs (in the industry, these are known as woodies... obviously, I am not going to tell you that I want to grow woodies!) by the acre.  I would love to grow more than a few stalks of broom corn.  I would love to extend my season with gourds and pumpkins.  But I am NOT going to borrow $25,000 at the age of 56 to buy more land! 

If we limit our market to totally local foods ..... we are limiting the supply tremendously.  At one brief point during the meeting ... local was defined at Rock Island and Scott Counties!!!!! Our local Buy Fresh-Buy Local chapter has 34 members.  14 of our members farm outside of those two counties.  That is well over 33% that would not be classified as local!

With the change in climate conditions ..... with just weather conditions..... we need to look regionally.  Iowa City is local!!!!  We farmers understand that!!!!   We need to be more creative ... we need more options .....but we are the professionals and trust me, I know what high-tunnels are and I know the profit that can be made with them.  It doesn't come as a surprise!!!! But I know, I know, I know ... we need regionally produced product!!!!

I will not be at the next meeting.  I will be teaching how to make a local breakfast at Scott Community College.  We will use locally-grown oatmeal, locally-raised beef bacon, local eggs, local veggies and local quark omelets and sour cream coffee cake .... where we make our own sour cream.

And I don't understand the importance of local??????

Those that farm .... do. 

Those that talk .......... well, I won't go there.


Sherry said…
that is very informative blog - it has sparked lots of discussion in our house. BTW now I really want some coffee cake... if only.
Catherine said…
I subscribe to the *50 mile* rule...combined of course with errands, appointments etc....I head to *town* (QC) for supplies once a month or so...does that mean I'm not local? whoa....
Miss Effie said…
Catherine ... you are local in my book!!!!

Ya know ... when you live in the country... everything is a trip. You drive to the dr. You drive to the grocery store. You drive. And you don't think a thing of it. It is a fact of life!

I can not believe how many people have actually said to me ... "you are so far out. Can't you just come into town??"

Its amazing how the mileage can be different in a round trip!!!! :)
fullfreezer said…
I guess I always figured local as no more than 200 miles, max. I'd prefer 100 (or better yet walking distance- but that's not realistic). Stay on your rant. The only way people will "get it" is through education.
Miss Effie said…
Judy ... my very own opinion is local the distance I can drive there and back in one day comfortably. So basically .. 200 miles.

But you know peaches don't grow too well in Iowa but great in northern Missouri.... and there is great cheese in Iowa ... but more artisan producers in WI. (Although that is beginning to change!)

The thing we need to think about is why buy a CA tomato from the grocery when there is an Iowa tomato at the market or at a farm stand? I won't get an IA raised pineapple .... but I can shop responsibly for the other products.

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