Round table at Polk County agricultural breakfast

Published 6:12 pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Article by Ernie Kan

The March Agricultural Breakfast held at the 4-H Center in Columbus was in a different format this month.
After the farm breakfast, there was a “round table” of discussions in small groups. The results were then presented to the entire group.
The first question was, what do you think are some new ways for this area to use its greatest assets for farming?
Some of the answers were direct marketing, green space, education in our schools about farming and new ways to form a “sense of the community.” Other answers were to learn the importance of vineyards with local grapes, and the need to extend the local markets opening them to other counties.
The way we can encourage our next generation was also well thought out. One of the answers that received praise was to have our local schools grow their own foods since “slow foods are the beginning.” There is a need to connect farmers to people who chose to grow their own food but do not have the land, and farmers to people who want to work on farms. The comment that was praised the most was to make farmland affordable and to give better tax shelters.
The final question for the morning was to tell the greatest assets of Polk County. One table mentioned the length of the growing season can be up to 10 months, and that can be expanded with green or hoop houses (this was a topic several breakfasts ago.) Clean water and land was important. Communication between the older farmers and the new and younger farmers has been valuable, along with the sense of a progressive community.
Other items that were deemed invaluable were the Mill Spring Ag Center and agritourism, the policy-makers of the school system who have put into place school farm programs, and other opportunities in the schools.
The most acclaimed asset of all things mentioned was the extension office that involves the youth at early and all ages.

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