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July 2012 Meeting Minutes

on Thu, 07/26/2012 - 12:13

Welcome and Attendance

In attendance: Ann-Corinne, Ruby, Robert Shields, Jen Becker, Julie Emslie, Nicole Swenson -grad student in Fairbanks

Rhubarb Update: Ruby

On June 11 a meeting was held to discuss the growth of the rhubarb industry, specifically in rhubarb juicing. Bruce Bush is applying for a grant for a juicer to supply rhubarb juice to restaurants. If you have any extra rhubarb Di Tomasos he’ll buy it from you. Bruce can be reached at 746-2874. http://www.manta.com/c/mmn7m19/di-tomaso-s-fruit-vegetables Ruby discussed harvesting rhubarb, and shared that rhubarb can be planted up until August

Bioneers and the Resilient Community Network: Robert Shields

The annual Bioneers conference is being held in Anchorage, October 26-28, 2012. More information can be found at bioneersnka.org . Bioneers focuses on sustainability issues. Robert also discussed the Resiliency Conference in Fairbanks. Robert feels that there are some natural connections that can be made with ACAA and the Resiliency Conference. Next year’s conference is scheduled for May 4-5.

Wrapping up of last month’s discussion items:

-        Deirdre had expressed concerns regarding the social networking aspects of the new website. She feels that the new site is not used as much for on-line sharing like the old site did. Overall it was determined that the ACAA Facebook page seems to fill this void. It is not as active as some other Facebook sites, but it is definitely used. It was suggested that everyone try to participate more in the Facebook discussions.

-        Face-to-face gatherings were also discussed. It seemed like this should be tabled to later in the year, when meeting up with other local regional farmers might be possible. Robert shared that he was having a community BBQ at his home on Saturday, July 28 1-3pm. He will post more information about this on the Facebook page. Jen Becker is also planning on having an event on her farm, which will be relatively low-key. The details for this are still being determined.    

-        Farm Tours were also discussed. It was suggested that ACAA might be a good avenue to organize farmers surrounding farm tours. These farm tours need not be as involved as the current Mat-Su and Delta farm tours, and could be more economical, as the current farm tours cost over $50/person. Julie expressed interest in having a Fairbanks farm tour, or possibly a community-wide open Farm Day Open House, in which participating farms can have visitors stop by while they visit farms throughout the area –much like the Tour of Greenhouses that took place earlier in Fairbanks. Farm tours would also fall into one of the four goals of ACAA: Educate the public.

Website: Membership policy

The membership policy has not yet been established. Julie suggested that defining ACAA’s membership would help ACAA to move forward. Tiered membership was suggested, for example, Grower Members, such as farmers, and Support Members, such as individuals or those from outside organizations. Ann-Corinne and Jen felt that it was important for ACAA to be grower-led, but still have a place for those who are not farmers themselves, but are interested in community agriculture. It was discussed whether there should be a fee associated with membership, and overall the group felt that this would not be appropriate at this point. Julie felt that it would still be helpful to have some accountability, which doesn’t need to be financial, because as it stands right now, anyone who signs up on the website is more or less a member. For example, members might be required to attend a certain number of meetings per year. It would be good to know who’s actually committed to the group. The email reminder is sent out to 150+ people, yet as of late, less than 12 people are actually attending meetings. Identifying roles and levels of expected involvement could help strengthen ACAA.

Robert suggested other ways to raise money outside of a membership fee. Julie expressed concern over trying to raise money without a clear idea of what money would go to, or a system in place to manage the money. ACAA is currently struggling to have regularly attended and organized meetings. Julie suggested that it might be more important to define next steps and then raise money for those steps if needed, rather than the other way around.

Ann-Corinne felt that it is important to keep moving forward and felt that it would important to define roles and task members with clear responsibilities. Julie agreed with this, and felt that these roles could be as simple as deciding who should moderate the meetings, pull together an agenda, take notes, etc. These tasks could all be given to a different person each. Julie felt that by default much of these responsibilities are falling on her. While she is willing to help, she would rather not lead the group, but provide the support. For example, she feels comfortable taking notes, but not moderating the meetings or deciding/setting the agenda of what should be discussed

Accomplishing ACAA goals

-        Information and Resource Exchange. It seems that of all the goals, ACAA is doing the best at this through the use of its Facebook page and meetings. It was suggested that a very brief presentation could be given at each meeting discussing a topic that would be beneficial to ACAA members.

-        Advocacy. Ann-Corinne explained the original intent of this goal for ACAA. Rather than ACAA becoming involved in political issues as an organization, ACAA could serve as a place where its members can get information on political issues, and then act on them as individuals as they see fit. On uncontroversial issues affecting Alaska agriculture, ACAA can take a stance. Jen volunteered to play a stronger role in helping ACAA members understand legislative issues, as she participates in gavel to gavel.

-        Venue to cooperatively market and sell products, and cooperatively purchase supplies. This is primarily being done through the use of the website. Farms are listed on the website for a one-stop shop for consumers looking for CSA shares or other similar information. Originally it was thought that only member farms could participate, but this is difficult when a membership policy has not been established.

-        Educate public.  Time did not allow discussion of this item; however farm tours were discussed as a way to educate the public earlier.

Setting Next Meeting

            TBD