[NAFEX] Membership

Rosholdt rosholdt at erols.com
Tue Feb 12 19:42:09 EST 2008

I am a NAFEX member (Stafford VA Z7) and have tried to start a fruit 
growing group in Virginia with very disappointing results.  The reasons 
for this I believe have something to do with the NAFEX membership 
problem and may be related to a phenomenon affecting small and mid-size 
farmers across the country.  A great portion of our population have lost 
touch with what they eat due to modern industrial agriculture.  
Consequently there are fewer out there that see the point of fruit 
exploring, because they go to a grocery and buy apples labeled "red" or 
"yellow" that taste like "chalk". 

I have a memory of the food I ate on the farm as a child - including 
chickens, pork, beef, many vegetables, 40 varieties of apples, 12 
peaches, etc.  Now I live near a large metropolitan area and because I 
try to eat locally grown food from heirloom/heritage plants and 
sustainably grown stuff, I have been setting an example for others.  
Some are "too busy", some don't care what they eat (why should they 
since it all tastes like the cardboard box it came out of) but a few are 
interested.  People need education to get them to the point of relating 
to varieties of fruit, storage issues, etc.  You should see people's 
surprise at learning their are more than five or six varieties of 
apples.  NAFEX is an organization that speaks to me, and I am trying to 
entice others to get "hooked on fruit" by example and enthusiasm (if you 
don't have expertise, you'd better have enthusiasm).

In order to at least get our name out there, presence at some national 
or regional conferences (like the Grape Growers conferences) might be a 
good thing. Sometimes smaller organizations I belong to link together 
and one person who is attending will set up an informational display 
(unmanned) along with theirs.  Some of our local Organic and Consumer 
organizations have had success by providing such boards at the 
Sustainable Agriculture Conference and seed saving events.  Seed Savers 
Exchange in Decorah includes apple scionwood as part of its seed swap 
catalog, for example.  I believe BYFG, MidFex and CRFG members could 
think of some events where such a board could be posted.  Some heritage 
conservancy organizations like the American Livestock Breed Conservancy 
(working hard to maintain livestock diversity) have conferences and 
support "poster displays" of animals with breed organizations. 

Another idea is empowering members.  If I wanted to advertise NAFEX, 
could I, with the permission of the board, sponsor a NAFEX prize at the 
Fruit exhibit in county or state fairs for either educational Fruit 
exhibit or Best Heirloom  fruit, or ????.  I know we give awards at our 
conference - how about giving one at, say, NNGA's gathering?

I have seen electronic message boards gut newsletter organizations I 
have belonged to, so there is a downside to the messaging.  Electronic 
is fine, but I do love the print copy.

Barbara Rosholdt

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