Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Networking Week in Review

It's been a week since the Farm's been in and yet no sprouts of corn, beets, or potatoes. The starts seem to be assimilating nicely, but from what I can tell I'm mostly growing rocks. I swear that every time I water, the rocks multiply and grow in numbers. The next workday will be a "fill-a-five-gallon bucket with rocks day before you are permitted to go home". However, my immediate chore right now is watering, which takes about an hour. After last night's downpour, I have at least one day off.

Apart from the watering, last week was filled with networking, which is something that used to make me completely gag/feel sickened in the realms of corporate business/suits/golf, but has turned into quite a pleasure now that I'm dealing with grassroot non-profits, other non-profits, entrepreneurs, foodies, and farmers.

On Tuesday the 1st, Frank Skala invited me to give a 15-minute urban farm presentation at the monthly Friends of Euclid Creek (FOEC) meeting. FOEC is a watershed group trying to revitalize Euclid Creek. As a watershed group, FOEC supports things like dam deconstruction/rebouldering, rainbarrel workshops, bioswales, and rain gardens. However, FOEC also supports a much more generalized environmental view, and hence my invitation. The presentation went great and generated applause from the 25 or so people in attendance. They seemed to get a real kick out of "Old Husher" and my speech segues were smooth.

Wednesday was a power day, starting early at Cleveland State University, where I met graduate student, Keith Peppers. He sat down with me all formal-like in a music sound room complete with a drumkit and that soundproofing stuff on the walls. There was a table in the middle of the room, adorned with a huge microphone and a Marantz digital recorder and two chairs on opposite sides. And in this weirdly sterile, soundproof environment, I gave my oral history in the form of a question and answer regarding my choice to become an urban farmer with Mr. Peppers.

Immediately afterward, I went right down the street to what is probably the coolest screen printer in the U.S.A, Jakprints, to do some market research on women's t-shirt cuts. During my visit, I also learned that if I bring in five pounds of recycled paper, then I'll get 10% of my order, which is alotta mullah when you have eight screens.

In the early evening, I caught up with Jim Doughman for some beers of JumpStart Inc, which is a non-profit Northeast Ohio technology investment firm. He wanted to talk just to see if he could possibly assist in any way. Pretty early in our discussions, he came up with a couple potential funding opportunities and list of several individuals. By the end of our pitcher of Moondog ESB, Dan Young (mobile-app guru of DXY Solutions) was chatting with us about mobile-apps that could assist in picking orders.

Wednesday ended at Lakewood's Bela Dubby coffee house. Wednesday night is "Noise Night" at Bela Dubby and is quite the draw (to my surprise). Both, my friend, Chris Wood, and artist-buddy, Steve Kuchna were going up there. So I had no choice. Chris wanted to buy tomato plants, and Steve had art for me.

Saturday was another good day. It rained a boatload, thus reducing my workload. When I got to the Farm that day, my nice rake was laying there right next to the plot. Apparently, Mike and I had forgotten it the day before; and obviously, no one had stolen it either. For as many warnings as I have gotten from the multitudes of various resources, the rake should have been stolen in theory. How's that for creating vibrations?

Furthermore, it was Little League Marching Day down the street. Eventually, these little kids all marched up Sprecher in their various, green, orange, red, or blue uniforms past the Farm. I was watering while this was happening, and then all of sudden, I had a man making a beeline directly to me. I should have recognized him, but in his civilian uniform of shorts, baseball hat, and sunglasses, I had no clue. It turns out it was Cleveland City Council President, Sweeney! After quick introductions, he gave me a verbal pat-on-the-back, and I returned it with a business card, and he proceeded with the March.

Today, Kuchna and I will be making the last tweaking of the "A Farm in Cleveland?!" t-shirt artwork. Ordering will commence!