This year for Earth Day (a Day I don’t usually…observe), I gave a talk on small-scale organic farming for an audience of three in the airy designer meeting room in the Upstairs at Loblaws zone. Here’s the view from…upstairs (this is the same super-sized supermarket mentioned from another recent trip to town).
It was fun! To be more accurate, though, this wasn’t actually an Earth Day event, it just happened to fall on it, as part of an on-going series of talks and cooking classes and stuff that happen all the time, an effort of the giant Loblaws chain to be more community-oriented, engaging, one-stop. A veggie customer at the farmers’ market had suggested me for one of the slots way back last September or so, they called me up, I said OK, and a few months later…
Yesterday, the coordinator called to say there were only six sign-ups (it’s free registration), so I could cancel if I wanted. Apparently, attendance here can be low, with as little as one or two sign-ups for some, and 15 is a crowd. Since I had no expectations in the first place, I still made my I-don’t-drive transportation arrangements and there I was.
It was actually really interesting, talking to people who weren’t as predisposed to organic food and…greenness as most everyone who tends to shop at the stand at the farmers’ market or sign up for CSA. I’d decided no presentation, just questions. It only took a minute to get things rolling: I asked everyone (all three), why they’d come and what they were expecting (“to learn more about organic food…”) and took it from there.
The non-stop conversation lasted 90 minutes, without a pause or signs that any of us had had enough, until I took a natural exit point and casually wrapped it up. It was kind of a live, concentrated version of this blog: explaining what I do every day, giving what larger contextual background on agriculture I have—all directed by the flow of questions.
The cool part was seeing another first-hand example of how people don’t seem so much PROGRAMMED to be all-out industrial consumers, as not given any CONVENIENT alternatives…like having someone with first-hand experience cheerfully answer their questions in a pleasant room with a parking lot. At one point, talking about how tiny farming and local food seem quite workable, and also ENJOYABLE for everyone involved, all people have to do is try, I said it’s like the audience in a movie theater: everybody stares at the the screen, and even when the movie’s truly terrible, most people keep watching because it’s easier than leaving…
Anyhow, it seemed like I put on a good show, and I’d bet that it generated at least a little carry-on conversation and a couple of experimental purchases. Does that mean that tiny farming done well is at least one part entertainment?! I guess so… ;)