At the National Slow Money Gathering in Louisville, attendees heard Douglas Gayeton cite The Lexicon of Sustainability’s motto:
“Remember: Your words can change the world.”
I never dreamed that the words I spoke during my six-minute presentation on the stage in Louisville could have such an effect on the world around my family and our farm. The longer this Beetcoin Feed Hub project goes, the more I am struck by the truth of this rhetoric of Douglas Gayeton’s. An idea whose time has come is certainly a powerful thing. Back home in Kansas, my neighbors have helped to educate me on this truth.
There is, apparently, something potent about the thought that a farmer in your little hometown may have a powerful idea. Why did these folks go so far out of their way to support us in this project? In our rural area, we may not always agree on how to do things, but we do want to see each other prosper. The press has also been fascinated with the idea of a GMO-free Feed Hub for Kansas. We’ve always “farmed outside the lines” and as a result, make the news around here. But this Beetcoin Feed Hub project has generated more media/press interest than we’ve ever been exposed to.
“Without Beetcoin, this Feed Hub would have never happened.” —Rosanna Bauman
Why has this so caught everyone’s attention? Some of the attendees at Slow Money’s National Gathering said they voted for our farm to receive the Beetcoin award because they thought that this project could change the state. Some even mentioned, to my total disbelief, that this concept could change the world. I blew it off as overzealous congratulations. They had more insight than I. I knew that this was a powerful idea, but I no idea how powerful. And that new phrase that was hastily coined “Feed Hub” is indeed changing our world here in Kansas. The project hasn’t even ground its first ton of feed, but I am amazed at how the locals have not only understood the concept of the project, but are excited about it. I am astounded at the number of farmers that we have never met approaching us and asking if we would buy their grain if they switched to non-GMO production.
Several of the most successful farmers that raise thousands of acres of GMO crops in the surrounding four counties have came out and asked if they could sell their grain to us, as they are getting tired of being pushed around by the big seed companies and want other options. Some of my neighbors who are mega-farmers have said to us: “I think you might be on to something. My cows don’t like to eat the (GMO) corn that I feed them; they’ll just sniff it and walk away.” I expected a little bit of scoffing from my neighbors, as most are largely dependent on GMO crop production for their income. But I haven’t even heard a whisper of discouragement. Being able to come home with an award-winning project from an event that had the word “Money” in its title gives tremendous validation to our project. Often sustainable agriculture is not seen as “economically sustainable.” Although grant money is nice, I am glad that this was a loan that we have to pay back. It helps validate my project in the eyes of the local Kansans. Slow Money is a non-profit that catalyzes money to “worthy causes” but ventures that are expected to be profitable.
We did not realize the full state of the GMO-free grain markets when we began this project, but we now are very aware that the missing link has been the connection between the farmer and the end user. Before the non-GMO grain markets can grow, the farmers who are willing to raise it must be able to get it to the consumers, be it animals or people. That infrastructure is totally gone in the grain industry, as the local elevators are only geared toward commodity and export markets. Farmers are nearly desperate for a local market for their grain that they can understand and see.
It is the truth when I state that “without Beetcoin, this Feed Hub would have never happened.” But it is not the whole truth. We must recognize the people who make up the Slow Money movement: the investors, farmers and thinkers, are the heart and soul of what makes this concept work. For our part, we must give credit where credit is due: that, without our belief that God had the ability to perform miracles on our farm, we would never have had the courage to take this giant leap of faith. What if there was a bag of GMO seed that nobody bought? In Kansas, we may find the answer to that question.