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Meeting Minutes May 1, 2012

on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 12:28

Welcome and Attendance –Happy Alaska Agriculture Day!

In attendance:Emily in Homer, Ann-Corinne in Palmer, Ruby H. in Delta, Mike Emers in Fairbanks, Amy Nordrum in Fairbanks, Robert Shields in Fairbanks, Julie Emslie in Fairbanks

 Website: Updating CSA info (Julie)

-        Julie will be helping to update the website and encouraged all member CSA farms to make sure their info is accurate. Julie’s organization (FEDC) has been promoting CSAs recently, and subsequently directing people to the ACAA website, as it’s one of the best places to find an online listing of local CSA farms.

-        Julie has found that some of the most common questions asked are cost, pick-up locations, and the difference between shares. She suggested that farmers keep this in mind when deciding what information to include on their profiles. Unfortunately most people are not interested in calling every farm to find out this information and would rather be able to find it in one place.

-        There was discussion over whether there should be a chart on the website with this information. Ann-Corinne cautioned that this might encourage people to pick shares based on prices alone. Julie didn’t feel a chart was necessary and also understands why having prices listed in this way might be detrimental, however, noted that very rarely do people ever buy anything without first knowing the price and having to contact each farm to find out this info might discourage customers.

 Vertical Farming and the Resilient Fairbanks Conference (Robert Shields)

-        Robert Shields from the Alliance for Reason and Knowledge shared on his organization’s efforts, as well as specifically speaking about the upcoming Resilient Fairbanks Conference. The point of the Resilient Fairbanks Conference is to inform people about Vertical Farming. ARK is proposing converting the Polaris building in downtown Fairbanks to a cooperatively owned Vertical Farm. The concept of Vertical Farms started 10 years ago all over the country. This farm would use aeroponic and hydroponic technology.

-        Robert has taken great interest in ACAA, has familiarized himself with the organization, as well as has spread the word about ACAA by reposting it to many different facebook pages.  

Sharing of ACAA wants and interests

-        Dierdre was unable to attend the meeting, but had emailed her thoughts ahead of time to be shared. She cautioned against leaving gardeners out of ACAA because they aren’t farmers. There was much discussion about this topic. The general consensus was that there is a significant difference between being a farmer and growing food as a business, selling it to others, and basing your family’s livelihood on it, and being a gardener growing food for your family as an addition to other income your family might have. However, despite this distinction, ACAA does not want to leave gardeners out and wants them to feel a part of ACAA, only coming from a slightly different perspective –which is not bad, but strengthens the overall group. Mike E. also stated that as a farmer he is very supportive of gardeners and would love it if people gardened more.

-        There was also discussion of the website and discussion forums. Dierdre has also shared that she felt the old website was utilized much more for social networking than the new one. Others in the meeting agreed. The facebook page is being used a lot for sharing and networking. Suggestions were made to adjust the website in a way that it was more user-friendly or inviting for people to share. One of the benefits of the website is that information is catalogued, whereas on facebook conversations aren’t really filed, and it’s hard to go back to a previous conversation and find information.

-        Mike brought up the issue of becoming a 501c3. His concern was whether or not this status would limit the amount to which ACAA could politically advocate. He questioned whether this was a concern for others. Others in the meeting also felt that ACAA should keep itself in a position that in the future the group would be able to be involved in political decisions.

Discussion of Next Steps

-        Ruby felt that there was a need to get more people involved in ACAA. She agreed to send out postcards inviting others to join the group.

-        Robert also agreed to spread the word about ACAA.

-        It was also agreed that everyone should try to post at least one comment or question on facebook before our next meeting to continue to stimulate discussion and use of the facebook page.

-        Julie said that she would contact some of the legislative aides to see if they would be interested in speaking at the next ACAA meeting about bills, and other issues happening in the state government that affect agriculture. Julie also said that she could look into more info about 501c statuses that would be appropriate for ACAA.

 Other topics?

            Running out of time, other topics were not discussed.

 Setting next meeting

            Next meeting was set for Wednesday, June 13th 2012 @ 6:30pm.