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Bon Voyage, Rebecca - To Music and Radishes!

A year in retrospect: Rebecca Haldeman, the Farmer Training Program Assistant and organizer of the CRAFT alliance, wrote this post in response to finding her place within Angelic Organics Learning Center and CRAFT. She will soon be leaving the Learning Center and embarking on a journey in pursuit of her music career. You can watch her grow and "like" her progress on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rebshaldeman

May 25, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the produce section at Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Wisconsin. I always scan the shelves for the purple "locally grown" tags, and I was excited to see the number of these tags increasing with the warmer weather. I came across a bunch of radishes, synonymous with spring, and I was pleased to recognize the name of the farm that grew them, Tipi Produce of Evansville, Wisconsin.

Tipi Produce is one of many farms whose names I have come to know over the past four months while working at Angelic Organics Learning Center. I've spent my days contacting farmers, getting familiar with their specialties and products, understanding their histories with the CRAFT alliance. I am beginning to have interactions with the farmers in the alliance as we attend CRAFT Field Days, and it is exciting to put faces to the names that populate the pages of our handbook and website.

With the radishes I took home with me that day, I also took away a sense of appreciation and respect for the CRAFT alliance that I work to support. Tipi Produce represents a generation of sustainable farmers who are established in their operations and who serve as a resource for farmers who are just starting out. The beginning farmers, and folks wanting to learn more about farming, comprise the majority of our network membership, and it is encouraging to see an increase of attention to land stewardship, sustainability, and the overall health of the world in which we live.

An invigorating connection occurs with the exchange of information, experience and ideas. Somewhere in the background of our network, facilitating these connections, from farmer to farmer, between learners and teachers, there is a team of us at work to make the network more easy to use and comprehensive. We work to increase awareness of available resources and make this information easy to access and digest. I am proud to be a supporting part of this network, hopeful that more farmers will be able to continue doing what they love to do, and I happily partake in the bounty made available to me.

I have dabbled in radish growing in my own garden over the past few springs. As one of the first crops to rise from the ground, they are a joy and reminder of the yields to come. However, my radishes can't hold a candle to the radishes grown by the hands whose life work is growing food. My radishes are tiny, piquant, with tough skins, and they lack the attention to quality and prosperity that a farmer focuses on their crops. As I relished in the delicate, juicy crunch of a Tipi radish, I somehow came to terms with my own need to focus on my talents and skills as a musician and an artist. I identified with the determination to develop an interest into a profession, and admire those whose work inspires others to think critically about their own lifestyles and choices.

The most successful people are creative in developing their outlets of expression. Through my work here at AOLC I have met astoundingly innovative, resourceful people whose passions are rooted in the land that supports us. Their success and vitality gives me hope for the future of growth and change. I am happy to be active within this movement, and in the meantime, I snack on radishes.