We’re Sitting on Go!

17 06 2010

Just a quick note to share some exciting “news”. I’ve been pondering the possibility of programs well-suited to the environment and facilities that Meadowcreek has to offer. I believe that we have, hands-down, the most beautiful site in the state for a variety of educational opportunities. The serenity students find here serves as a catalyst, opening their minds to new knowledge and experiences. No matter your background, vocation, or aspirations, attending a program at Meadowcreek precipitates a paradigm shift.

For those of you who’ve tracked Meadowcreek over the years, you’re familiar with the various challenges we’ve encountered. Funding and organizational structure have been at the forefront of those obstacles. As I delve further into the “solution finding” phase of my residency, it has become clear that these two elements are intimately intertwined. Like the age old chicken-egg dilemma, I’m constantly wondering “which comes first, the programs or the infrastructure/assets?”

I’m looking forward to fund raising: As surely as I believe that Meadowcreek is worth my time and energy, I am certain it deserves the financial support of donors and foundations who share our principles of education, sustainability, and leadership. But the question that begs to be answered is “What are we funding?” It’s an inquiry I ask of myself, and one that grant makers expect I will be able to answer.

Finally, I have a feasible program concept. Bev Dunaway, one of our amazing board members, is also the Stone County Farmer’s Market manager. She recently introduced me to Dustin Black, a young man full of energy, enthusiasm, and ambition during the Market.

Dustin recently graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in Orlando, Florida, and has started a grass-roots business called Ozark Mountain Foods. He’s working with Stone County farmers to turn their surplus produce into value-added products with mass appeal. His goal is national distribution of wholesome, hand-crafted provisions that benefit both the consumers and the farmers.

As I’ve been working tirelessly in the garden (and looking forward to my first day as a Farmer’s Market vendor!), it seems that horticulture has permeated all aspects of my life. I have seedlings growing behind my shop in town, can be found perusing farm supply catalogs behind the cash register, and exhibit the tell-tale “dirt under my nails” when I show up to work directly from the garden. This has led several of my customers to inquire, “How do you know how to do all that?” While gardening is by no means “easy”, it’s something almost anyone can do and enjoy. Eventually, I found myself brave enough to answer, “Well, I’ve just moved out to Meadowcreek, and I’ve been thinking about offering classes…” This has been met with a resounding, “That would be wonderful, please let me know when you start!” on several occasions

So there I was, pulling weeds and mulling over curriculum ideas. Then, the epiphany: What could be better than learning to not only grow your own food, but also how to prepare your garden vittles? Not much! And so the vision was born. This evening I ran it by Dustin who agreed it would be an outstanding collaboration.

“From Home Grown to Home Made” That’s our working title, and I’m a little bit proud of it. What do you think?

The project is in its infancy, of course, and I’ve yet to pitch a proposal to the Board of Directors. There’s still a syllabus to write, marketing to undertake, and facilities to prepare. But if rehabilitating Meadowcreek were a race, initiating a successful program is the starting line. Slowly, steadily we will overcome hurdles, passing the baton of knowledge from resident instructors to students. The finish line is inconsequential; it’s the journey that matters.