LFC welcomes guest blogger (and LFC friend) Mark Armstrong from Acoustic Farms in Springville, Iowa. Acoustic Farms boasts 82 acres of naturally-raised vegetables, herbs, lambs, and pork – and, soon, cheese. At the end of October, Mark and his wife Barbara headed off to Torino, Italy for Terra Madre 2008. As the Terra Madre web site explains, “the third edition of the biennial international meeting of the Terra Madre Network brings together food communities, cooks, academics and youth delegates for four days to work towards increasing small-scale, traditional, and sustainable food production.” Mark was kind enough to agree to share his experiences with the LFC blog readers. Thank you, Mark!
It’s hard to believe that it has been a month since my wife Barbara and I were trying to find our way around Turin. But time flies they say. I think that I am still trying to digest it all. We were overwhelmed by the 7000 people from 140 countries that were at Terra Madre. People were from all age groups. We met chefs, students, educators, other producers, and observers. All of us had the same thoughts….how do we protect our food supply, protect individual cultures, and keep it all sustainable. The different languages were easily overcome with a little effort.
The opening ceremony was incredible with drums calling the people of the nations together, each walking in with their country’s flag. Opening speeches were powerful. Closing remarks left lasting impressions on us all. My ears still ring from the music. The complexities of delegates from around the world dancing together as one could never be captured on film.
We heard stories of schools growing their vegetables. We listened to discussions on different cheese cultures, Bee survival, Heritage livestock. It was hard to pick what meetings to attend. The meetings were interesting, but I felt that more was attained from meeting with the other delegates on an individual basis. There was no end to the stories, both success and failure to learn from.
What can I do to promote our local food system? This thought runs through my mind almost daily since we left Italy. This trip proved to be a major change in our farming choice. We have farmed for CSAs the last two years, but after being repeatedly flooded last year, we were looking for a different way to provide quality local food. At Terra Madre, we met incredible cheese makers from around the world, and one only 2 hours away. We decided that this should be our forte, to make local farmstead cheese. Funny that we had to travel across the ocean to find our farms destiny. We have 2 jersey cows already and will add to the family and should be marketing cheese in the spring.