We had our 2017 Annual Meeting Tuesday night at the county fairgrounds. Our farmer-members have schedules that are inundated with meetings, so annually we discuss the value in each meeting that Harvest Land hosts or organizes.
This meeting continues to draw a larger crowd than we anticipate each year. Tuesday we counted 12 seats not filled. That’s cutting it too close for comfort according to the event coordinator! This evening consists of a brief business meeting, the announcement of Board election results and a meal catered by Willie & Red’s.
Year after year, as farmers file in the doors to get away from the January weather, we can count on a few consistencies. Perhaps because farmers are set in their ways, or are somewhat predictable, we can always count on these four proven truths about farmer meetings:
You can expect early arrivals.
I don’t know what it is about farmers, but they’re quite often early and very rarely late. Last evening may have been a record; one couple showed up more than an hour prior to the meeting starting. No doubt, had crops been in the ground they would have arrived just a little later (but never late), only because they would have driven 45 mph. all the way to town as they checked out how neighbors’ crops were doing. But in January? I guess they just wanted to be first in the food line. Which brings me to the next point.
You’ll never throw out food.
Ever. No food goes to waste because farmers are conservative savers and appreciative of a meal with their community. There was food left over Tuesday night and our CEO stood and announced that seconds were available. There was then an instant choir of chairs scooting across the concrete floor as folks stood to fill their plates, again. But even after seconds from our farmer-members, we had food left over. This is where the spirit of rural America (rather than the appetite) set in: a loyal co-op customer and his wife packaged every ounce of the remaining food (roast beef, friend chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, broccoli salad, coleslaw, rolls with butter and 5 different desserts) and delivered it to the local soup kitchen. We were so happy to have this meal bless others in our community this week.
You’ll never leave with goodies to take back to the office.
We set up a display table with assorted information about our business services as well as “trinkets” with our logo on them. The trinkets consisted of several of each of the following: farmer caps, winter knit hats (I call them toboggans, but some think that’s a sled), 2017 calendars, ice scrapers, insulated lunch totes and ink pens. Do you know how many items I had to pack up after the event? Three: A stray rubber band, a calendar and a lone ink pen. My dad always said, “If it’s free, take two” and I guess most farmers have that same mentality.
You can expect late departures.
As sure as the early arrivals will roll in, you can count on having to push some farmers (or, farmers’ wives?) out the door at the conclusion of the meeting. We hate to use the phrase, “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,” so we just start cleaning up our venue in hopes that they’ll catch on to the fact that the meeting ended an hour ago. If that doesn’t work, we resort to shutting off rows of lights, one at a time. If push really comes to shove, we remind folks that they’ll see their friend (or, competitor?) at the diner in 9 hours to continue their anhydrous conversation over coffee.
Things are changing fast in our world, but isn’t in great to know that as sure as change comes on, some things will always stay the same? We look forward to this event every year because it brings in new members and old, to one event to celebrate another harvest in the books over a meal, together.