Although you won't find InFARMation in the dictionary it's a local agricultural event that takes place every second Tuesday of the month at Roots Organic Brewery in Southeast Portland where you can eat, drink and learn about all sorts of interesting local farm issues.
Since January 2009 Friends of Family Farmers has been hosting InFARMations in Roots' events space attached to the brewery. Folks arrive, order food and drink if they want (Tuesday is $2.50 brew night at Root's) and then usually by 6:30pm a farmer stands up front to talk about a pressing agricultural issue. Scot Callaway spoke at the first InFARMation I went to in mid-July. Callaway lives in Canby, Oregon and talked about how his community fought and organized against a Foster Farms CAFO setting up shop in their area. The fight isn't over. I learned a lot.
Before the event I got to talk with Michele Knaus about Friends of Family Farmers and its mission. The organization was founded in 2005 by co-president Kendra Kimbirauskas and received 501(c)3 status in May of 2007. In just four years FOFF has become a leading voice for Oregon's independent family farmers. The organization provides resources to help farmers and community members resist and retaliate against factory farms and support socially responsible sustainable farming.
Knaus is really happy with Portland's InFARMations. She says, "Bringing the farmers here and bringing the issues in from a different angle has been really helpful. It helps people connect with others in the community doing the same work. At an InFARMation I'll see a CSA urban farmer that I know talking to some old grizzly farmer who drove two hours to get here. I'll also see young urban people listening and taking it all in. I get really excited about that stuff."
I'm a big fan of InFARMations too. In college I attended all sorts of readings and lectures from visiting professors, writers, thinkers and I'm happy to live in a city where this kind of perpetual and diverse free schooling is available -- especially in relation to farms and farmers. Added InFARMation bonuses: delicious beer, decent food and a low-key communal feel with picnic tables and an informal Q&A. The Roots space isn't a quiet auditorium where you have to climb over ten people to get out. In other words feel free to stop by or take off beginning, middle or end.
According to Knaus October's InFARMation focus will be -- Eating Local: Thanksgiving, Winter, & Planning Ahead. November's InFARMation will be co-presented by the Oregon Food Bank. OFB will report on listening sessions and focus groups they've held around the state, specifically focused on food insecurity and fresh produce/farmers markets. In December Knaus hopes to get a lot of farmers in the room to talk about apprenticeships and how they're dealing with labor opportunities and training the next generation of farmers.
FOFF is always looking for volunteers and donations. Check out their website for more information.
Friend of Family Farmers 503.759.3276 P.O. Box 1286, Molalla, OR www.friendsoffamilyfarmers.org