On February 15th, farmers, consumers, grocers, restaurant owners, chefs, and community members from Mendocino County, Sonoma Valley, Yolo County and Sebastopol all gathered at the Sebastopol Grange to celebrate the first collaborative Guild Raising. NCAT specialists Rex Dufour, Marisa Alcorta and Intern Emma Koefoed attended the event as a chance to network and promote the ATTRA project.
The day started with a Farmer Invented Equipment Showcase, in which farmers had been invited to show off equipment, gadgets or tools they had built. During the showcase Rex and Marisa interviewed Theo Rehbach, Lucas Heweter, Hunter Flynn, and Paul Bernier, all of whom brought things to exhibit. Theo, Lucas and Hunter together built a rolling and a two-hand manual dibbler; both are used to make holes in the beds for transplants on smaller-scale farms. For farmers transplanting by hand, these appropriate technology tools would save time and energy. In addition to the dibblers, Theo brought some traffic cones he had refurbished as kill cones for chicken processing.
Paul Bernier, of Bernier Farms in Dry Creek and Alexander Valley, also demonstrated his handywork at re-purposing materials and inventing farm tools specific to his own needs. Paul brought a homemade root vegetable washer that he had assembled with a foot pedal that controlled the water input. He also engineered and built a simple compost temperature gauge, using a volt-meter connected to a piece of rebar, a bed shaper welded from different tillage parts, and a compost sifter that raised and lowered off the side of his tractor, which he could pull through a windrow of compost and turn it in minutes.
Shortly after the showcase, participants gathered for the Farmer to Consumer Speed Dating session. In the spirit of the Valentine’s Day weekend, consumers, restaurateurs, grocers and eaters had a chance to “date” the local growers. This market-linking tactic facilitated important networking, and good old-fashioned chitchat about possible CSA’s, available animal shares, wholesale opportunities, and more. The night finished off with a barn dance and a delicious pig roast with food donated by farmers and prepared by chefs of Northwest Catering.