Correctly so, most organizations, groups, committees and boards have figured out that for most farmers, this time of year is the best (and only) time of year to hold meetings. Many farmers fail to see any merit in most of the meetings/info sessions/workshops, etc. and in some cases they are right, but Mark and I find the needle in the haystack once in a while that keeps us going back to more meetings than we probably need to. What I mean by that, is that although sometimes the day is overall a waste of our time, there will be one or two tidbits of info that makes it worthwhile. Or sometimes the info session itself is a waste of time, but we made a good contact with someone we would never have seen otherwise.
Anyway, the point is, Mark and I both find ourselves attending various conferences, meetings and workshops this time of year, every year. I won't go so far as to say it has become a competition to see who can claim they want the workshop more, so the other one stays home with the kids, but...sometimes I wonder. haha.
I spent two days last week in workshops. The first one was purely for my own marketing's sake, meaning I went mainly to promote my new business venture, which is as an "Organic Certification Consultant". I got a really good response from both the certifying agencies and the producers/processors who were there, so I'm hopeful for some work soon. I already completed work with one company and I think it went well. Since completing the Organic Inspectors course in the spring, I feel pretty confident in my ability to help anyone who needs it, now that I have experience with crops, livestock and processing. I certified mixed vegetables once, but I don't think those will be the producers that will be needing me the most.
The next day I went to a direct marketing workshop, which was one of those in which I wondered if my time couldn't have been better spent somewhere else, but also felt like maybe I had taken more out of it subconsciously than I thought. As in, maybe when I'm marketing lamb down the road I will find myself doing something that I couldn't have picked up anywhere but on that day. I am having a hard time reaching that 'mom' demographic with lamb. They seem to keep that connection between lamb and...well...lambs! It's really the fault of whoever first called it 'lamb', since we don't have little porks, or beefs running around looking cute, we have pigs and cows. But there's nothing I can do about that now, so I've got to try and make the most of it. So many men came to my booth at the market this summer wanting to buy lamb but, "my wife won't eat it." and evidently when the wife won't eat it, the husband won't buy it. (The direct marketing workshop confirmed that women control the food dollar in most households.) And then we've got egg customers who are looking for chicken or "whatever else you have here, the eggs are so good", but apparently...not lamb.
So, at this point, I don't feel like I have the soccer mom demographic in the palm of my hand, but I may have picked up some helpful hints along the way. It was a day out of the house anyway!!!
This coming week is Mark's turn who is attending two meetings, and who tends to come home far less cynical about his time than I. For example, he spent a day last week at a "Vision and Goal Setting Workshop", from which I probably would have come home shaking my head, but he came home invigorated and really enthused about creating a proper vision, posting it accordingly, developing goals and working towards them, etc. etc. While it's true that these are important things for the farm and for any business, I am far too cynical to find a LOT of value out of spending my day that way. And I'm the one with the English degree. Who'd a thunk it?