by Wink Davis, Mesa Winds Farm & Winery, Hotchkiss
As I drove out the farm gate at 4:00 am on a recent Friday and turned toward Grand Junction, I was seized by doubt about the wisdom of the trip I was about to take. I’d be away for three days, the longest I’d been off the farm, except for family visits, in nine years.
Lambing would begin any day, a cold front was on its way, and I had a new crew pruning peaches.
I hoped that the group of folks I was about to spend the weekend with would provide an outlet for the dismay and anger I have been feeling at the way family farms and our food system are being trampled by corporate Big Ag. I was tired of feeling like a voice in the wilderness and my wife Max was tired of being my sole audience.
It was time to get serious and throw my lot in with these folks who I know to be effective in getting the job done.
I have, for many years, been a relatively passive member of Western Colorado Congress (WCC) and other member organizations of Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC).
About the most I have done is to respond to Pat Sweeney’s calls for letters to Congress and signatures on petitions. He and his staff have long been heroes of mine for their dedication to democratic, grassroots community organizing and savvy strategizing, as effective means for giving a voice to just-plain-folks like me against big, faceless, powerful, exploitative forces.
And here I was, on my way to Billings as a member of the team representing WCC on the WORC Ag and Food Campaign Team.
We went right to work on Friday afternoon. Far from the usual dry, them-talking-at-us, exercise in staying awake, the meeting was dynamic and engaging. We staged a highly realistic mock press conference on issues facing independent livestock producers with activists from Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming presenting the findings of recent research and others of us as correspondents. I played the role of a Fox “News” reporter. It was fun, informative, and an important rehearsal for the real thing soon to come.
When I re-boarded the airplane on Sunday evening, I knew I had been treated to community organizing at its best and an example of how WORC helps make WCC an effective grassroots organization.
As we all went our separate ways, we were galvanized as a cohesive regional working group, heading home energized and armed with knowledge and tools to make a difference for the future of family farm agriculture.
Back at the farmstead, I fired-up the frost fans at 2:00 am Monday, and our first lambs came along that afternoon. So, other than lack of sleep, there was no harm, only gain, in taking the weekend away.