Don’t you love six degrees of separation? I just had a classic experience of that. Friends of my sister-in-law’s in Florida (well, they are now friends of mine!) have a daughter who works in D.C. and has a job relating to “sustainability” (a passion of mine!). So, I e-mailed this person just to say hello. Via subsequent e-mails, I learned that she was coming to Asheville soon for a conference. Asheville is only 30 minutes from our farm. Therefore, I asked her if I could take her out to dinner while she was in town. Long story short, that came to pass two nights ago.
Since our dinner together, I have googled my dinner partner and learned that she is the Executive Director of NSAC (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition), an alliance of grassroots organizations which advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. In a nutshell, that sums up my entire life’s focus.
When I met Susan, I was immediately impressed by her demeanor, her sincerity, definitely her wit, and her humility. We chatted about her parents, both of whom I find charming, her siblings, with whom she is very close, about our shared passion for Local Foods, and about Asheville being the quintessential poster child for the Local Food Movement. We enjoyed lots of local veggies and some local brew at Early Girl Eatery, and ultimately realized how connected we were to each other, in large part because of our common beliefs in how the food systems in this country need a serious overhaul.
When I got to the farm on Monday, I delved a little deeper into who Susan is and what she does. I learned that, as ED of NSAC, she communicates directly with President Obama. She cautions him about cuts in agricultural spending, she warns him of the threat from large agricultural businesses upon small farmers, and she forecasts the dilemma regarding the aging population of farmers. She praises Secretary Vilsack, and his vision to increase the number of farmers, and she lauds CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) for its superlative environmental standards.
My conclusion is this:
I randomly had dinner with a lady who represents me in Washington, D.C. She talks to our President, she fights for the rights of the oldest profession in our country (well, maybe the second oldest profession), she is championing the values so close to my heart, and she is the daughter of some friends who certainly passed along all the right stuff.
~Sally Eason, CEO Sunburst Trout