Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tough Love

In my daily reading, I come across a lot of rubbish and it is sometimes hard to seperate the wheat from the chaff. I think, however that the paragraphs below are worth passing on. This is from an article in US News and World Reports and is written by Rick Newman. What I think it boils down to is quit complaining and blaiming everyone else for your problems, suck it up and take responsibility for your life: "The economy is changing rapidly, and it's not completely clear why it's gotten so much harder to get ahead. But there are certainly clues. Education has a lot to do with it: There are very limited opportunities these days for people who don't have a college degree or whose training is outdated. Technology is another factor. People whose careers are tied to the digital revolution enjoy the good fortune of working in a burgeoning field, while many others work in shrinking fields being decimated by new technology. Workers able to ride the wave of globalization, at companies that do business around the world, have an edge. Attitude is another factor. Too many American workers rely on somebody else for their livelihood, without the grit that it takes to adapt and recover when something goes wrong. This is the natural byproduct of a long era of prosperity in which living standards rose for nearly everybody, just because the economy was booming. It didn't take extraordinary fortitude to get ahead. Often, all you had to do was show up. Things are different now, and the bar for success is higher. Instead of arguing over the abstract causes of income inequality or hoping for miracles from Washington, national leaders ought to be sending this message to America's workers: Get smarter. Work harder. Go where the opportunity is. Prosperity isn't going to trickle down from the wealthy, or arrive in the form of a government check. The only person looking out for you is you." Tough love, but it makes a lot of sense to my simple mind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Organic Growth in Fertile, Can it Happen Here?

Below is the story of revival in a small town. This struck me as relevant because it is exactly what I have been working towards for the past three + years. If Stokes County and other small rural communities are to survive and thrive, it is going to be because of a few dedicated people who want make a difference. It will be small pockets of entrepreneural minded individuals that see opportunities and take the inititive Please take a moment and read this column. If you feel a yearning to make a diffence, reach out to friends and neighbors or even me. Let's discuss what we can do to make Stokes County grow and thrive. Down on the Farm - A Little Revival We have shared with you in the past, a great weekly column posted by Eric Bergeson, entitled Down on the Farm. When we read a recent column, A Little Revival, we just had to share it with our readers. About twenty years ago, I reached a fork in the road. It was time to either commit to the small town, join the family business and try to make a go of it, or use my education to find a career in the suburbs. Most of my peers were long gone. To visit friends from college or high school, I had to travel to Grand Forks, Fargo, the Twin Cities or the West Coast. As I looked around the small town, things were moribund. Half the storefronts on Main Street stood empty. The town was dying and dying fast. It looked like tumbleweed time. So, I half-committed. I bought an aging trailer house. My payment was $125 per month. I slept on the floor. Buying a bed would have been too much commitment. That very year, the men at the cafe who spent hours playing cards--farmers, former farmers, businessmen, former businessmen and others of vague employment status had an idea. We need a golf course, they said. Almost none of them golfed. Coordinated by a couple of respected and smart leaders, the golf course movement took off. Within two years, using volunteer labor and donated goods, Fertile had itself a 9-hole gem. Although I did nothing but pick a few grubs myself, I remember the exhilarating sense of community action as the course took shape. Looking back, the golf course was a turning point in the town's history. About the same time the golf course started business, I sent my first email. Soon, I discovered that I could read the New York Times before breakfast on my computer in my trailer. The small-town isolation broke up like ice on a lake in spring. Two of my best friends sickened of life in the suburbs and moved back to take over the family farm. Their first house wasn't much fancier than my trailer. With farming a break-even proposition at best, some former farmers started other businesses. One started an elevator company--the type of elevator that hauls you to the third floor of a hotel, not the type that holds grain. Fertile had no elevators. But that elevator business took off. What's more important, it spawned a handful of young entrepreneurs who saw the possibility of making a good living while living in the small town. Turns out, you didn't have to farm to stay. Today, there are probably a dozen young families in town who make their living off elevators, and others who started in elevators and have moved on to other ventures. What a difference one entrepreneur can make! Did you know that eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota lead the nation in honey production? Honey is another big employer in Fertile. Several started their own honey operations. Although it had become a difficult business, honey helps keep the local economy afloat. Other local men joined companies which build cell towers or pipelines. Because they were willing to travel and had a farmer's instinct for hard work, their bosses soon said, "Are there more like you back home?" With many of the men on the road, the women revamped Main Street. Today on Main, we have an ice cream shop, a flower shop, a health food store, two gift shops, a used clothing store, a donut shop and a furniture store, all owned and run by women. There are no empty storefronts on the main drag. In another community project, a bunch of locals banded together to build a beautiful Veteran's Memorial Plaza right downtown. In the countryside, the phone company plowed in high-speed internet cable up to every house. I laughed when they laid cable up to bachelor Joe Jacobson's house next door. Joe was 92 at the time and not one to use the phone, much less a computer. Well, when Joe passed away his house sold to a young couple (under 50!), one of whom uses the cable to manage software projects for IBM. A few miles down the road lives a young woman who fell in love with a Fertile man (it happens all the time) and moved up from Florida to start a new life amongst the cows. When she tried to quit her job in Florida, her boss said, wait a minute, do you have internet up there? She now manages twenty pizza joints in central Florida from her kitchen table in rural Fertile. These examples just scratch the surface. Eventually, I sold my beloved trailer and built a house. And I bought a bed. It feels a lot better to set roots in a town on the upswing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

King Chamber is Hopping Into Spring

The King Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the second of what we hope becomes a long line of local shopping events this Friday evening. They are asking everyone to come uptown and Hop Into Spring. You will find a list of vendors and special that they are offering below. I intend to eat dinner and spend a wonderful evening strolling the sidewalks and stores in King with friends and neighbors. I hope to see you there!

King Shopping Center

ABBA’S Family Thrift Store Sales all over the store

Tradewinds Consignment & Jewelry 15% off all new SPRING JEWELRY

South Main Street

King Lawn & Garden Special promotional prices all over the store and 0% interest for 48 months on qualified purchases

Talley’s Flower Shop Open until 8:00 pm -10% off purchases of $50 or more.

Downtown King

Coffee,Tea & Me Buy one large beverage, get a second for half price

Dalton’s Crossing Draw an egg from the basket for an “eggstra” discount of 10%-15% or 20%. Door prizes and live music to celebrate the grand opening

Gentry’s Store 15% off purchases of $30.00 or more

King Chamber of Commerce Receive a free reusable shopping bag. Downtown King
Vendors in the office: Melissa Neal-Scentsy wickless candles, Bunny Powell-jewelry,
King Moravian Preschool

King Public Library (open 4:00-7:00 pm) Free coupon book for the night’s shopping, Friends of the Library Rummage and Book Sale and the Library’s new website.

King Moravian Preschool Coupon for a 10% discount on the registration fee and first month’s tuition. They will be located in the King Chamber of Commerce office

Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio Coupon for one free class the week of April 23-28 (a $6.00-$8.00 value) and enter a drawing for a $25.00 gift certificate for Dance Day Camp.

Mitchell’s Nursery & Greenhouse Coupon for $5 off a purchase of $35 in plants at their Spring Open House on Saturday, April 14. Mitchell’s will park their truck in the lot beside Mickey & Co. to sell wrapped Easter flowers including lilies, mums, geraniums and azaleas.

Nothing Ordinary Unique Gifts- 10% off one item.

Stokes Family YMCA-Corn hole competition –located beside Mickey & Co

Terry’s Furniture & Firearms Low prices every day.

Time 2 Play (inflatable attractions) will offer a free soda with each paid admission. They are located behind Mickey & Co.

Weiner Meister two hot dogs, chips and a drink for $5.50

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Local Farmer Opportunity

If you are a farmer in Stokes County or the surrounding area and are looking for a way to expand your market, Lowes Foods will be providing information on how to sell to their company. See information below for more details.

February 9, 2012

Dear Valued North Carolina Farmer:

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Marketing group is hosting Grower Information Sessions with key personnel from the Lowes Foods grocery chain and (MDI) Merchants Distributor being on-hand to provide information direct to North Carolina Growers. The first session is scheduled for February 29th. Growers from counties within close proximity to each session are invited to attend.

The Farmer meetings will be geared towards those farmers/growers that are interested in selling to Lowes Foods and MDI. Topics to be addressed are guidelines that Lowes and MDI require for you, as a farmer, selling to their stores. Lowes Foods Executive Director of Produce and MDI’s Director of Produce will be on hand to address the criteria they require. Examples Include: Liability insurance, Gap Certification, etc. Please do not allow any of these guidelines to keep you from the meeting, as we have designed these meetings to be informative as to these topics. Marketing Horticulture Specialist from our staff will be giving a presentation on how to become Gap Certified and other grower type information. There will be a question and answer session, and possible one-on-one sessions, if time permits. Lunch will be provided by the “Got to be NC” Goodness Grows Program.

Sessions are planned throughout the state covering specific counties at each. Meetings will be held from (9:00am – 3:00pm - Registration beginning at 8:30am) with lunch provided.

• March 28th. Winston Salem Meeting
BB&T Ballpark – Womble Carlyle Room
951 Ballpark Way
Winston Salem, NC 27101 (336) 714-2287
From the West: Merge onto I-40 E. Merge onto I-40 E/US 421 S via exit 188 toward Winston-Salem. Take Broad St. exit. Turn right onto Broad St. and then make a quick left into ballpark entrance.
From the East: Merge onto I-40 W toward US-421 N/Winston-Salem. Merge onto US 421 N. Merge onto I-40W/US-421 N via exit 206 toward Kernersville/Winston-Salem Downtown. Take Peters Creek Parkway exit, Exit 5A. Turn right onto Peters Creek Parkway. Turn right onto Brookstown Ave., then take an immediate right onto Green St.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

10 Questions to ask every day

I found this in my daily reading and thought it was worth sharing. I have always been told that as you start looking back at your life, you never wish you had worked more.

10 Questions That Create Success
Want help focusing on what really matters? Ask yourself these on a daily basis.

Think that success means making lots of money? Think again.
Pictures of dead presidents have never made anybody happy. And how can you be successful if you're not happy? And buying things with that all money isn't much better. A new car, for instance, might tickle your fancy for a day or two–but pride of ownership is temporary.
Real success comes from the quality of your relationships and the emotions that you experience each day. That's where these 10 questions come in.
Ask them at the end of each day and I absolutely guarantee that you'll become more successful. Here they are:
1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?
2. Have I done something today that improved the world?
3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?
4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?
5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?
6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?
7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?
8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?
9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?
10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?
Here's the thing. The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results.
These questions force you to focus on what's really important. Take heed of them and rest of your life—especially your work—will quickly fall into place

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the Farm with Joel Salatin

Found this in the Richmond Times while researching another story. Joel is a definately a pioneer in the local food movement and proof that we can grow food differently. This is a good read, hope you enjoy!

On the farm with Joel Salatin (Added: December 11, 2011)
Alternative farmer and author Joel Salatin says returning to the simple life is perfect antidote for today's fast-paced times. (more) 0 Ratings | 276 Video Views Post a Comment or Rate this Video
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Next Image > < Previous Image Credit: BILL LOHMAN Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things, at his Polyface Farm in Augusta County. Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things, at his Polyface Farm in Augusta County. Credit: BILL LOHMAN The Polyface Farm in Augusta County owned by alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatin where he raises pigs, cattle and chickens, among other things. Credit: BILL LOHMAN Alternative farming pioneer Joel Salatinhas written a new book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World." Credit: BILL LOHMAN 1 By: Bill Lohmann Richmond Times-Dispatch Published: December 11, 2011 Updated: December 11, 2011 - 12:00 AM » 1 Comments | Post a Comment SWOOPE -- Last summer, Joel Salatin and his wife, Teresa, were eating breakfast at their farmhouse in Augusta County when they realized they were not alone: a couple with two children — strangers — were standing on their back porch. "They're peering in the kitchen window, saying, 'Here's where they live! Here's where they live!' " Salatin recalled with a laugh. Salatin is far from an A-list celebrity, but in some circles — farmers and foodies, in particular — he's as famous as they come. His Polyface Farms is on a quiet country road west of Staunton, but many people find their way here, usually to buy fresh meat or eggs, or to see how he does what he does. Rarely, though, do they come to watch him eat breakfast. Salatin, 54, has become the face of the alternative farming movement, the plain-talking antidote to industrial agribusiness. He has been cast as hero in food-related documentaries ("Food Inc.") and books (Michael Pollan's "Ominvore's Dilemma"). He gallivants around the world — he's on the road 140 days a year — talking about his pastured chickens, grass-fed cattle and the pigs he sends into the woods to forage for acorns. Like a pied piper, he encourages others to come along, for the good of their food, their families and their planet. It's heady stuff for someone who self-deprecatingly characterizes himself as "a peasant with a pitchfork" whose primary crop is grass. Whatever fame he has achieved goes in the closet with the suitcase when he returns home. Influential as he is on the road, he's just one of the crew at Polyface, toting feed, digging postholes and cutting wood. The dirt under his fingernails represents a badge of honor as, in a way, does the "Steve" patch stitched to his ancient work shirt. Steve? "It's just a shirt from down at the thrift store," he said during a late-November interview at his farm. "We don't care what names are on them. They cost 50 cents, and when they wear out you just use them for rags." To Salatin, that's just normal, which also happens to be the thrust of his new book, "Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People and a Better World." It's his eighth book, but the first one he's not self-published. Center Street, a New York publisher with a Park Avenue address, is betting the folksy but outspoken Salatin will appeal to a broad audience longing for simpler times. * * * * * "I enjoy the theater" of media interviews and the speaking circuit, Salatin said as his all-terrain vehicle bumped along a dirt road on his farm. "But, man, do I enjoy getting out there and just grubbing and sweating. "My calluses are still plenty good and hard." Salatin is not an easy man to categorize. He's a champion of the local food movement, natural farming and self-reliance; he's no fan of pesticides and man-made fertilizers, government regulations and the wasteful ways of modern society. A graduate of Bob Jones University, a conservative Christian institution, he is welcomed warmly as a speaker at liberal outposts such as the University of California-Berkeley. His faith is deep, his politics well to the right and he's something of a tree-hugger. He's gregarious, but not in an acquiescent way. He's blunt and opinionated; he says more of us should raise chickens instead of parakeets. For those struggling to label him, Salatin saves them the trouble, describing himself as "a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer." "I have a really odd constituency," he said. "I'm loved and hated by everybody." Matthew J. Lohr, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which represents farmers large and small, sometimes agrees with Salatin, and sometimes doesn't. "We absolutely agree on many core values, chief among them the importance of home-grown agriculture," Lohr said. "His low-impact methods appeal to many people who prefer food grown under certain production practices. Joel has raised the consciousness of many people across this nation about the importance of farmers and of buying locally and eating seasonally. We thank him for that." * * * * * Salatin was 4 when his parents moved to Swoope, acquiring a farm that was overused, under-loved and visibly worn out. Shale poked through where lush grass should have been. But the Salatins couldn't be too choosy. They had come from Venezuela, where they had tried farming — his father worked for an American oil company as an accountant, which is how he wound up in Venezuela — but they lost their farm and their savings to political unrest, and returned to the United States for a fresh start. Though his parents never made a living from farming, they nurtured the property back to health by focusing on soil development and composting. His father developed a portable electric fence system that allowed him to move grazing animals from one patch of pasture to another, proving beneficial to the animals and the land. Joel Salatin took to farming immediately. At age 10, he managed his first flock of chickens and started an egg business. He wanted to farm, but wasn't convinced he could make a living. After college, where he majored in English and honed his debate skills, he returned to live at the farm but took a job in town as a newspaper reporter at The News Leader of Staunton. In 1982, having saved a small sum from living with his parents, he and Teresa took a leap of faith: He quit the paper and gave full-time farming a try. "It was about three years until we looked at each other and realized, 'This is going to work,' " Salatin said. "We weren't making much money. Just enough to live on. But it was working." National attention was about the furthest thing from his mind, but it started knocking at his door. In the late 1980s, a writer from the Stockman Grass Farmer magazine attended a field day at Polyface, liked what he saw of Salatin's approach to farming and wrote about it. Before long, Salatin was writing a monthly column for the magazine. Then came invitations to make public speeches. There seemed to be a genuine hunger for information about the sort of small-scale farming he was doing. He started getting phone calls from farmers and would-be farmers. He wrote a manual, thinking that might stop the calls. He cranked out 40 pages on his typewriter about raising pastured poultry, made photocopies, clipped together booklets — and sold 1,000 of them. All that did was lead to more speaking invitations and more books. "Joel Salatin is the alternative food industry's true pioneer," said Allan Nation, editor of the Stockman Grass Farmer. "He has never been afraid to leave the comforts of the fort to expand the frontier for everyone who is following him. When things go wrong he's quick to warn others, and when things go right he's never been afraid of spurring competition for himself by telling others about his success. He is one truly exceptional person." Salatin still farms the way he always has, but he's no longer small-scale. Besides the 550 acres of Polyface, he leases eight other farms to accommodate his multitude of chickens (20,000 broilers and 3,000 to 4,000 layers) and 1,000 head of cattle. His son, Daniel, manages the day-to-day operations, and Polyface apprentices run the satellite farms as subcontractors. Polyface has become an economic engine driving business to other small farmers in the area, Salatin said. The Salatins refuse to ship their food long distances. They prefer selling direct to customers at the farm or through buying clubs across Virginia, although their products are in select stores. He finds farmers markets too inefficient for his taste. Too many "nibblers," as he calls some shoppers. He wants to see people "really buying their food" at farmers markets, not just "little ribboned bottles of condiments and cute bow-tied mini-breads," and seriously move away from supermarkets. Salatin and his wife live in the house he grew up in, his mother lives next door, his grown children live on the farm, and his grandchildren roam the place as he did. Four generations at Polyface is perhaps Salatin's happiest harvest. * * * * * Polyface is open to visitors, who are welcome to shop, look around the farm, even watch the processing of poultry if they wish. Salatin says it's a wonderful idea for people to have a "visceral connection" to their food. He says people must take a greater interest in their food, where it comes from and what it takes to grow. He says they should get to know a farmer, grow vegetables and stock their pantry. Salatin says Americans should change their eating habits — starting with not eating as much processed food and clamoring for out-of-season fruit and vegetables — and become more self-sufficient. "I've met people in the middle of pretty big cities who have a freezer and a large pantry," he said. "They show you their dried goods and all the things they've gotten locally. It's available. You have to plan for it. You have to think about it, and you have to prioritize your life. "It's a mind-set that says, 'Our family is going to re-establish normalcy in our life.' "

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meat processing for organic and local products

Great news in this release as well as additional verification that more people are showing a concern over what they are consuming and taking steps to make changes in their food choices. Hope this trend continues and that Stokes County can be a participant in thes evoulution:

December 7, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE N.C. Meat Processor Goes Organic

Taylorsville, North Carolina- In a boon to the local and niche meat industry in North Carolina, a Taylorsville meat processing company has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to process certified organic meats. For over 30 years, Mays Meats has provided custom and inspected meat processing services to local farmers who produce and sell niche meat products in local marketing channels. Mays Meats has been a leader in supporting the growth of the local meat industry by providing high quality inspected meat processing services (e.g., slaughter, fabrication and value-added product development). Longtime Mays Meats employee, Misty Dyson, coordinated the effort for USDA National Organic Program certification. “Our customers do a great job raising animals responsibly; having the option for processing under organic certification provides them with a level of third party verification that many consumers find valuable. Mays Meats is happy to provide this service to farmers as part of an overall effort to help them better market their meat products,” Dyson says.

Local beef producer Shelly Eagan, of Cleveland County’s Proffitt Family Farms, worked closely with Mays Meats in navigating the application process for organic certification. “Misty and I started working together on this back in February 2011. I really don’t think we could have done it without working together. Our beef has been certified organic for the 3 years but we couldn’t legally market using an organic label because we had nowhere to have the animals slaughtered under organic certification. We’re thrilled to now have that option. I think there are a lot of folks out there who are actually raising animals ‘organically’ who might consider getting certified now that they can actually make those claims on their labels.”

NC Choices Coordinator, Casey McKissick, notes, “It’s exciting to see the positive outcome of farmers and processors working together toward a common goal. It’s these types of partnerships across the supply chain that are moving the local meat industry forward in North Carolina. Mays Meats is the only commercial processor in North Carolina to provide slaughter and cut and wrap services under organic certification. This will create more market opportunities for local livestock producers and product choices for local consumers.”

Niche meats are meat products marketed based on attributes such as “organic,” “local,” “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” “humanely raised,” and “grown without antibiotics or added hormones.” The local and niche meat industry in North Carolina has enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years, bringing new economic opportunities for farmers, processors and other industries that support the local food economy.

A recent review of meat and poultry sales through natural foods retailers shows the “natural and organic
sector” growing at a much stronger rate than conventional meat and poultry sales. For example,
between 2008 and 2010, nationwide red meat sales increased 1.7 percent whereas natural and organic
red meat sales increased by 15 percent (Mintel 2010).

According to the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), there has been a steep
increase in the number of farmers in North Carolina who are securing their meat handlers’ registrations—a
requirement for transporting and selling packaged, inspected meat. As of November 2011, 499 farmers held a
meat handler’s registration. That number is nearly four-fold increase since 2007 (NCDA 2011).