Pasa-ing since 2010 2/8/2022

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Happy sunny Tuesday! ….I wrote when I first sat down…and then realized that by the time I actually send this, the sun will probably no longer be up, and by the time you’re actually reading it, well, it may not even be Tuesday anymore.

The forecast is calling for several days of this lovely-for-February weather, though, so maybe I can just say, “Happy sunny day!” and hope it applies?

A dinner plate with a steak surrounded by red wine sauce on the left and a pile of bright sauteed rainbow chard with pine nuts and raisins on the right.

Apropos nothing (except being eaters!), a quick seared Denver steak with red wine reduction and “chard catalan” (that’s pine nuts and golden raisins).

Either way, I’m enjoying this little spate of seasonally-appropriate-but-mild weather, and I appreciate that because it’s seasonally appropriate I’m not having flashes of thinking things like, “Yeah I love global warming!” (because this doesn’t seem abnormally warm), so I’m also saved from the guilt of having realized I just thought that. I mean, if the only consequence of climate change were slightly warmer Februarys, I’d take that, but increased volatility all around? Nah, I’ll pass, please. But also yes please I’ll take these sunny mild winter days! (If we have to have winter, which I understand we probably do….)

Anyway! This week Dusty and I are off to Lancaster for a few days for the Pasa Sustainable Agriculture Conference. This is kind of like summer camp (for three days in February) for sustainable ag nerds.

I’m looking forward to a session on building community food webs, a couple on marketing, and one about silvopasture co-hosted by Tim Sauder of Fiddle Creek Dairy (makers of that luscious Greek yogurt). Since the bulk of the conference programming is focused on farming, I always also wind up attending at least a session or two that’s less relevant to my daily life but about something that I find interesting — this year I think I’ll listen to Jim Crawford reflect on 50 years of organic farming, and maybe hit the session about raising piglets in hopes of some cute pictures in the accompanying PowerPoint.

I suspect that Dusty has yet to even look at the conference schedule, but I also suspect that he’ll wind up at the session on vermicomposting, and maybe the one about growing sweet potatoes from start to finish since he’s got a bunch of slips in our kitchen window (they’re the most successful houseplants we have).

For both of us, though, the formal programming, while always interesting and enriching, is secondary to the social aspects of the conference. I guess to keep it professional I’m supposed to say things like community-building and networking? That sounds more like Work than “hanging out with some of our favorite farmers and ag people,” right?

In all seriousness, I think the Pasa Conference was a big factor in nudging us towards Radish & Rye. Dusty first attended in 2010, a few months after he and I started dating, and a few weeks after I introduced him to a friend who was attending the conference as a volunteer and looking for additional helpers. I stayed home (had to work), we got like two feet of snow and I was worried about them making it back safely (and worried I was going to have to shovel all the snow by myself), but they did make it home, and Dusty was so enamored with the conference that we have gone as often as we can since. Fun fact: the friend Dusty went with to that first (for him) conference is now the Executive Director of Pasa (as well as part of the team at one of our favorite farms).

While we certainly started going to the conferences because we had an existing interest in sustainable agriculture, the inspiration we drew from the conferences, and the connections we made at them, helped keep us hooked.

I remember at the pre-R&R conferences we attended, people would ask us, “Do you farm?” and we’d say, “No, but we eat!”

Once we were at R&R and the market, it felt like a cruel irony that, like the market, the conference ran Thursday through Saturday — and we missed a couple of years in there, just when it seemed most relevant!

I think the first time Dusty and I left the stand for a significant chunk of a weekend was to attend a conference — maybe 2017? 2018? — while the stand was in the capable hands of Veronica, Justin, and Marie. Fun fact: Marie now works for Pasa, too!

We feel incredibly grateful for the capable hands that will take care of the store this week. The way things work now, you probably won’t even notice we’re gone.

We look forward to returning on Saturday afternoon, freshly inspired, and maybe with some new connections. In the meantime, I know Taliah, Natalie, Alden, Jimi, Bronwen, Erica, Matt, and Scott will be taking good care of you. As they always do. 🙂